Different Types of Handsaws- 17 Major Types of Handsaws

There is an extensive array of handsaws for various purposes. Of course, for specific tasks, you’ll require a specialist saw. Our guide will help you choose from the different types of handsaws.

What does saw teeth per inch mean?

A Man cutting wood with a saw

A Man cutting wood with a saw

We regard a handsaw with fewer teeth per inch as coarse, while those with more as fine. A coarse-toothed handsaw is best for low-precision tasks such as tree pruning. Conversely, a fine-toothed saw is the best fit for high-precision jobs such as finishes on thin lumber. 

Below are the three primary classifications of saws regarding the number of teeth per inch. 

  • Fine-Toothed Saw– It has at least 12 teeth per inch. 
  • Medium-Toothed Saw– It features between 7 to 12 teeth per inch
  • Coarse-Toothed Saw- It has, at most, seven teeth per inch

17 Types of Handsaws

Below are some of the major types of saws you’ll find at your local store. 

1. Coping Saw

A person using a coping saw to cut a semi-circle out of a plank of wood

A person using a coping saw to cut a semi-circle out of a plank of wood

It’s a woodwork and carpentry handsaw primarily valuable for carving intricate shapes on wood. Thus, we can also refer to it as a fine finish saw. In addition, it has a removable blade, thus allowing for custom adjustments during use. 

Besides, a square frame housing the Saw’s blade allows cutting at a safe distance from the blade’s top part. Further, a coping saw has an average of 15 to 17 teeth per inch; hence it’s a fine-toothed saw. 

But, its blade is relatively thin and thus prone to damage upon application of immense pressure. 

2. Bow Saw

A Bow Saw

A Bow Saw

Also called the buck saw, Swede saw, and Finn Saw. It is a course-toothed kind that allows sawing at about 6 inches away from its frame. A bow saw facilitates the cutting of thick wood or branches, albeit roughly. Some bowsaws feature turnbuckles, while others have twisted cords.  

3. Fret Saw

A Fret Saw

A Fret Saw

It’s also called a scroll saw. A Fret saw resembles a coping saw in its application since both are useful in finely cutting wood with tight curves. 

Nonetheless, a fret handsaw has a thinner and shorter frame than a coping saw. Also, it’s a more fine-coarse saw than other types, with 32 teeth per inch. Further, It has a relatively wide frame. Thus it allows cutting with the frame way off the wood’s edge. 

However, Its blade is significantly thin and thus more fragile than a coping saw. 

4. Back Saw

It also goes by other names such as tenon saw, carcass saw, dovetail saw, and sash saw. A back saw is vital for cutting joints and creating mortises. Back saws on the opposite end of their cutting edge feature a stiffening rib that facilitates cutting stability. 

Also, on average, back saws feature between 12 to 14 teeth per inch. Back saws are handy for precise cutting applications. But, the stiffening rib property withholds the Saw from making deep cuts.

A Crosscut saw

A Crosscut saw

5. Crosscut Saw

It’s one of the commonest handsaws thanks to its versatility. The coarse-grained Saw’s tooth design features an alternating pattern. The crosscut saw is also the typical lumberjack saw, thanks to its coarse cutting capabilities. Lastly, unlike other saws, it can cut seamlessly against the wood’s grain

6. Hack Saw

Cutting a metal pipe with a hack saw

Cutting a metal pipe with a hack saw

A hack saw is a versatile fine-toothed saw capable of cutting wood, metal, and plastic. A hack saw features between 18 to 32 teeth per inch. Hence, we use it for precise cutting applications.

Its blade’s tension is also adjustable, thanks to the wingnuts holding it. Hence, you can easily modify its position to facilitate the cutting of thick and large-diameter plastic or metal pipe. 

However, Its blade is thin and prone to snapping if you apply immense force while cutting.

7. Bone Saw

A Bone Saw

A Bone Saw

It is a medical-based saw, useful for cutting bones in orthopedic and plastic surgeries. Also, it can be straight or curved; some bone saws are electric, while others are manual. 

The former is vital in plastic surgeries, while manual bone saws are common in orthopedic surgeries. But, being a specialist saw, it has limited applications. 

8. Keyhole Saw

A keyhole saw is a miniature version of a compass saw. Some refer to it as a plasterboard saw, Jab saw, alligator saw, and drywall saw. The main feature of a keyhole saw is its narrow and long blade.

Being a fine-toothed saw, it can easily and precisely cut through soft materials like drywall. Also, it can easily cut into areas that a typical saw can’t reach but is unsuitable for cutting hardwood. 

9. Folding Saw

A folding saw lying on a wooden stump.

A folding saw lying on a wooden stump.

It’s a coarse-teethed saw, also called a camping saw. It features a pivot at the blade-handle joint that enables folding. Further, its blade resembles a pruning saw. 

10. Pruning Saw

Pruning a tree using a pruning saw

Pruning a tree using a pruning saw

It’s the typical gardener saw. Also called a branch cutter, garden saw, and log saw, it features a curved blade that facilitates cutting around round branches. Some have a folding design, thus ensuring easy portability.

We can regard a pruning saw as medium-toothed since it has 8 to 9 teeth per inch. Also, they are cardinal in cutting sap-heavy green wood. However, it’s limited to pruning trees. 

11. Compass Saw

Many confuse it for a keyhole saw. However, the compass saw’s blade is significantly longer. Primarily we use a compass saw to cut curves on softwood or drywall. Also, it can cut through parts that a typical crosscut saw can’t reach.

However, a compass saw is still unsuitable for hardwood cutting.

12. Rip Saw

A Rip Saw

A Rip Saw

The primary feature of this Saw is its rip-tooth design allowing cutting hardwood along the grain. Besides, its edges have a right-angle pattern. Hence, when sawing, it cuts like a chisel. But its coarse structure is not suitable for a fine finish.

13. Pit Saw

A pit saw is a handful for cutting wood bars.

A pit saw is a handful for cutting wood bars.

It’s a conventional saw useful in precisely splitting large wood trunks over a saw pit. A pit saw (or whipsaw) has two handles, each on either end. Also noteworthy, a saw pit requires two operators, one inside the saw pit and another above. 

But, it is an old-school saw that is rarely useful in modern lumbering applications.

14. Two-Man Forest Saw

As a pit saw, the two-person forest saw requires two sawyers. But this is handy in cutting down trees rather than splitting wood logs. The average two-man forest saw can measure up to 12 feet in length and cut in both directions. Hence, each sawyer’s effort contributes to cutting the wood. 

Other names for the Saw include misery whip and clearing saw. Notably, this Saw can cut down large tree trunks with better precision than the axe. But, It’s unpopular due to the efficiency of the chainsaw.

15. Manual Chain Saw or Pocket Chain Saw

Cutting wood with a pocket chain saw

Cutting wood with a pocket chain saw.

It’s an alternative to the powered chainsaw. But the powered Saw beats it regarding efficiency and precision. 

Cutting and pruning tree branches is more efficient than using a hand saw. Moreover, you can easily carry it as it’s foldable.

16. Turning Saw

It’s ideal for cutting curves and has a fine-teethed structure. Hence it’s useful in precise woodworking applications. Regarding the overall appearance, a turning saw looks like a bowsaw. However, they differ in their teeth structure and application.  

17. Nokogiri or Japanese Saw

Sawing with a Japanese Saw

Sawing with a Japanese Saw

It resembles the Western Saw in appearance. However, the following features separate it from the Western Saw: 

  • It has teeth on both sides of the blade
  • Moreover, it can cut in both directions thanks to its slightly bent teeth. 

The fundamental application of this Saw is to cut bamboo, although we can also use it for fine and precise wood finishes. But it’s a specialist type of Saw and has limited applications.


You can’t go wrong when choosing saws with the information we’ve provided above. For more, talk to us anytime.