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Forum topic by Hmlee posted 04-19-2013 05:13 PM 929 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Hmlee's profile


18 posts in 1889 days

04-19-2013 05:13 PM

Hi all. So I’ve been doing a glue-up for an end table with some nice 6/4 white oak (a mix of flat sawn, rift sawn, and quarter sawn boards). I had been using a miter saw and portable circular saw to cut my boards down to length / rip them a little where necessary. I do most of my heavy duty work in a metal shop where I rent time (I also weld and do other metalworking), but glue-ups, light sanding, and finishing I tend to do in a spare room at my own place.

For this reason, I can’t just run back to the powered saws if I need to do some quick cuts. I discovered last night that two of my boards are about 1/4-1/2” too long. I could wait until I’m back in the shop to trim them, but it occurred to me that I could also buy a handsaw and do it here.

Except, I’m not too familiar with hand tools. How difficult is it to do cross cuts on oak with a handsaw? And what kind of saw should I be looking to buy if I decide to go through with this?

5 replies so far

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2349 days

#1 posted 04-19-2013 05:44 PM

Well it does take some practice to cut straight with a hand saw, but not a lot. cross-cuts will not be difficult at all, and will go quickly. I would recomment practicing a few times on some scraps first if the cut is vital, and you don’t have a good way to cleanup/strighten up the cut (planing or sanding).

If you’re not looking to spend a lot, I would recommend a stanley fine-finish sharptooth hand saw from a home center. Or if you want even smaller teeth for a nice cut finish, look for a cheap pull-saw at a home center.

Other here can probably recommend the more expensive options.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Tim's profile


3781 posts in 1926 days

#2 posted 04-19-2013 06:14 PM

You can definitely do this. Practice for sure, but until you’ve had enough practice, you’re probably also going to want a block plane to smooth and clean up the edge you just cut. You can do it with a sanding block if you really don’t want to get into planes though. If you want to spend less time sanding, you’re going to want to learn how to cut straighter and cut to a line that you’ve marked.

A good way to guide your saw cut is to cut in about 1/8” called kerfing in around the mark around the board. Paul Sellers also has a lot of good examples on how to cut a knife wall to help guide your saw cut in his videos on youtube. Here's a good one. He’s cutting a tenon, but the same method applies, just cut all the way through. You need a square, a knife, and a chisel, but an exacto or utility knife and a cheap speed square works fine for beginning. It all depends on how careful you want to be.

Search for some other videos on youtube if you want more sawing basics such as not breaking off the end

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2324 days

#3 posted 04-19-2013 07:12 PM

+1 on 12strings’ recommendation re Japanese style pull saw (like this)
Much easier to “master” for non-sawyer and will leave a very smooth surface.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2935 days

#4 posted 04-19-2013 09:57 PM

I really like those little pull saws. Mine is a Jorgensen, but looks just like the one DocBailey linked to.
A block plane is a great idea.
A miter guide would help as well.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#5 posted 04-19-2013 10:01 PM

we discuss it almost daily over here

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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