I plan to use hand tools for my first workbench. I'm new to
woodworking and have decided to try this
project using a handsaw. Another thing is, quality is important to me,
even though I'm not a tradesman, just
a "tinkerer". So, while looking for a good quality saw (at Lee Valley
and Woodcraft web sites) I noticed that they don't offer a low enough
TPI number for what I think I should use for crosscuts on the 2 x 4s
(most likely kiln-dried pine). Trying to learn about TPI, diff.
between crosscut saws and rips , I found this site:
"Hand Saw Basics" http://www.norsewoodsmith.com/ww/sawbasics/sawbasics.htm
which says that as a general rule, you should use a slightly higher
TPI saw for cross cuts than for rips, because going across the grain
tends to bite into the wood more. The general rule seems to be
anywhere from 6 to 10 TPI for every inch thickness of wood, for cross
cuts. Therefore, if I'm cutting 2 x 4s that would work out to 3 to 5
TPI applying the same rule.
My question is two-fold: would the Pax handsaw here be good choice (5
And since it's presented as a "rip saw" I'm assuming it doesn't have
the right kind of alternating blade configuration found on crosscut
Thanks to everyone for any and all help you can provide. Links where I
can do further research are appreciated, as is any explanation or help
you can give me to understand what's going on more clearly.
On Aug 19, 1:21 am, email@example.com wrote:
OK. To start, you do not want lower TPI for crosscuts, regardless of
wood thickness. Work with 10 TPI at the roughest, 12 TPI for smoothest
crosscuts, and get a 5 or 5-1/2 TPI rip saw. I have no idea who the
Norse woodsmith is, but when I worked as a carpenter, the roughest saw
we used on the job site was 8 TPI. That was a long time ago; the guy I
worked for was an old Pole, who trained in Poland prior to WWII. Maybe
the Norse do it differently, but 3 TPI is down into bucksaw style, two
men on the saw while out felling or bucking trees. It is far too rough
for finished use of any kind.
Rip saws are ground differently and do not do crosscuts at all well.
Crosscuts will do rips, but are slow and have a tendency to wander
I use a 10tpi Disston for crosscuts. I have a 10tpi Craftsman (1960's
vintage) that is a taper ground saw that is sharpened
as a rip saw that I use a lot for ripping, but also I will crosscut with it.
I first used a saw like this several years ago at Homestead
Heritage (Waco) to cut out a seat blank used in a rocking chair. Tage Frid
sharpened is as rip saws.
I like the saw because it stays in the kerf well and is easy to control. The
edges of the wood will be hand planed any way.
I also have several 8 tpi rip saws and a 5 tpi that I never use.
That's a good point. If the edges will be planed down or sanded, I
just mark my line and then proceed to cut just outside of the line. So
TPI factor is probably not that important in this case, since I would
cleaning it up by hand afterwards.
BTW, where can i find Disston's? Are they only available
on the used saw market? garage sales or flea markets?
On Sun, 19 Aug 2007 12:35:16 -0700, rawbeginner wrote:
They nay (or may not) still be in business, but the old ones are the ones
to get. I've got some old ones you can bend the blade around to touch the
handle with out harming it.
But Disston isn't the only choice, simply the easiest one to find. If you
can find an old Atkins Silver Steel, they make a Disston look cheap.
Simonds and Bishop also made good saws that show up occasionally at estate
sales and flea markets.
I mostly use Japanese pull saws, but I collect the old American hand saws
and saw sets. One of these days I plan on sharpening some of the old ones
and selling them, but I may die of old age before I get around to it :-).
He's a fellow who builds saws, really nice saws, and is a particpant on
several of the forums. Buying a saw from him, if they are for sale, is by
no means a 'bad thing'. It may not be the right thing for building a bench
from construction materials, but it's a nice saw.
Back to you regular programming...
Thanks for clarifying that. According the norseman's site, there's a
general rule that
says for every inch of thickness of the wood, a cross cut should be
made with a saw
with anywhere between 6 to 10 TPI. A finer saw if the wood is less
than 1" or is a hard wood.
My guess was if the wood was thicker than 1" (for the legs and cross
struts of the bench, say)
then a lower TPI than 6 -10 would be needed (say 3 to 5) for cross
cuts. But he doesn't actually say anything
about thicker woods than 1". Anyway, what you said bout bucksaws would
I haven't been able to find anything with less than 5 TPI in the
handsaw areas of the sites.
One question I still have is whether the "pax rip saw" I referenced
above (at 5 TPI) would be
correct to use for my cross cuts or not? I'm guessing it won't be,
because it appears not to have
the cross cut blade configuration. Am I right on this?
Thanks again for your comments. Much appreciated.
On Sat, 18 Aug 2007 22:21:15 -0700, rawbeginner wrote:
I've converted to Japanese handsaws. With the thin kerf, there's a lot
less work involved and I find them easier to cut without wandering. A
good ryoba with crosscut on one side and rip on the other should be a good
choice. Try it, you'll like it :-).
I agree with Lowell. Certain muscle memory set in early in life, and a
pull saw doesn't 'work' for me. Once it starts to cut, I start to push,
and things go south. For my son, on the other hand, they work quite well.
I've got one of each, and like them both. The key, however, is to use a
sharp saw. If your saw's not sharp, it doesn't matter what kind it is.
One thing to consider, though, is that the different styles might work
better for different tasks. My push saw works really well with the bench
hook, where the pull saw works really well with thin cut offs.
Saws are almost like planes... There's a different style for every cut
and you can own every one made and *still* think you're missing one!
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
I don't disagree with you that they fit for different work tasks. There
are 5 or 6 'traditional' saws here, some of mine, some from my dad's
place. There are a couple of backsaws with some age on them, plus an
Adria dovetail saw, and a couple of Lie Nielsen Independence joinery
saws as well. And a couple of inexpensive, get to work with them pull
What I was thinking, though, was that, for me, once the cut gets
started, my brain goes into the mode of 'this is working, finish it up
and move on'. And motor memory takes over, and push cuts. It's just
me, but I've been doing it that way for 50 years or so. I could
relearn, I suppose, but there are so many more interesting things to
spend my cycles on.
Like I need another slope to slide down... ;-)
Buy a general purpose hard point hand saw. It will do the job well, cost
next to nothing and you will learn to use it. Don't worry about the tpi
until you come to fine joint cutting or laborious ripping. The most
important thing is that it is new and sharp and that you mark and cut with
I wish you well and much satisfaction from your new hobby.
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