What is a Backsaw? The Definition, Types, Uses, and Benefits

Did you know that wood is the starting point of civilization and exceeds the ages of metal? The wood or forest economy exists and is well known in many developing countries around the world and many nations with a moderate climate especially the ones with low temperatures. Woods are also being used in a wide other variety like cellulose in paper, cellophane, rayon (substitute for silk), and so on.

So, what is a backsaw?

A backsaw is a type of hand saw which has a wide flat blade made of steel with a hard edge of wood or metal opposite the cutting edge ensuring the blade remains straight while cutting the wood. It gives better control and more accurate cutting than with other types of saw. The blade of a backsaw is usually shorter and narrower than any other hand saw. The blend of the smaller blade and the build-up steel or brass gives more definite control. Backsaws are normally used to do woodwork in a clear-cut way such as cutting miters or tenons in cabinetmaking and dovetails. Backsaws need to be sharpened now and then by a professional saw sharpener or with good quality sharpening tools found in hardware stores or larger saw shops. It is always better to keep a backsaw sharp for finer cuts.

There are also other types of hand saws that are used for woodwork in the wood economy. Few of them are the portable band saw, a fret saw, hacksaw, hole saw, and many others which are used to make different cuts in carpentry. Some are for making small and precise cuts, some are for making ornamental cuts or to cut metal, ceramics, plastics, etc. Let’s dive into the details of the different back saws.

Different types of Backsaw

Backsaws are used for both accurate woodworks for specific tasks and simple cut of woods, from cutting small joints to dovetails. To perform simple cut-off work, backsaws of smaller sizes are usually used for such tasks like the tenon saw, dovetail saw, the gents saw also known as the gentleman’s saw and the carcass saw. While using a backsaw, it has to be made sure that the wood is held in place on a wood vice or with clamps so that it does not move while it is being cut to ensure safety. To understand which saw to use for which kind of work can be quite a tough job to do, so here are the details of each saw.

The Tenon Saw

The tenon saw is designed for deep cuts with the grain and for chopping the tenon mortice. It can sometimes be used as a carcass saw as it is very good at ripping cuts. It has a deeper blade in comparison to the carcass saw and is mainly needed if someone has to make a lot of tenoned cuts.

The Dovetail Saw

The dovetail saw is enhanced for making lightweight cuts such as for cutting dovetails. It is usually 8″-10″ long. Since a dovetail saw has fine teeth, it can also be used to make small crosscuts. One such example is cutting small pegs to length.

Gentleman’s Saw (Gent’s Saw)

The Gent’s saw is quite similar to a dovetail saw but is often sharpened for crosscutting. It is a small general-purpose backsaw and can vary from 6” to 10” long. It can be used to make small crosscuts, dovetail cuts, etc. It is an important part of skilled toolkits for example model making.

Different uses of the Backsaw and the benefits of using it.

The benefits of back saw are uncountable and can be used for a variety of work. Whenever a carpenter has some woodcutting work , a back saw is a must tool for them starting from the basics to making furniture or precise cuts. Some carpenters may carry the gents saw in their toolkit box as it’s the perfect size to be carried around.

The uses of a backsaw can be assessed in different proportions. From the uses of a back saw, one can understand the benefits of using it since the benefits are merged with the uses. The following paragraphs will forecast it a bit more:

Crosscut in woodwork: If a wood needs a crosscut, a tenon saw is the best option since it has a unique design for such cuts. The tenon saw can cut the wood aligned to the grain since the blade has rip-filed teeth and can make flawless straight cuts.

Expertise in tenon and mortise joints: A tenon saw is a professional tool for cutting tenon and mortise joints. It has a unique design that is specially built for cutting mortise and tenon joints accurately. Such joints are exceptionally complex and crucial to making different furniture and a tenon saw makes it easier to cut.

Cutting dovetail joints: Dovetail saws are used for small and exact cuts and are typically used to cut dovetail joints where two pieces of wood must fit together perfectly. As most saws have few teeth per inch and are good for ripping work, a dovetail saw is best for making more precise cuts. A high-quality wood that has a closer grain will have better cuts with a fine blade.

Mitering: A dovetail saw can also be used for miter work where the cut needs to be precise and even if the wood does not need to have a deeper cut. It can be used with a miter box to offer an exact cut and hence the wood will need minimal sanding of the edge later. A dovetail saw can also be used to cut tenon joints as it’s a smaller version of a tenon saw.

Detailing the edges of a dado: Due to its crosscut filed teeth, a back saw is ideal for cutting tenon shoulders and detailing the edges of a dado and more accurately to make exact cuts across the grain.

Bottom Line

This article is a general information guide that will help someone to understand the basics of a backsaw and quite a few other types of hand saws that have been mentioned above and are used either for detailed work / ornamental cuts or to cut metals or to make circular cuts and how they are an essential part of woodcutting industry.