Getting To Know The Backsaw

If you are a student of engineering or an engineer, you probably know how to use a saw.

But do you know what a backsaw is? Even though it has a small name, this tool is very powerful.

With its stiffening metal rib, a backsaw makes sure that cuts are straight.

This makes it an important tool for anyone who works with wood.

In this article, we will learn more about backsaws, including how to use them and how to keep them in good shape.

Whether you are an experienced woodworker or just want to learn more, this guide will give you the information you need to make your projects better.

So, grab your safety goggles and let us get started!

Introduction to Backsaws

Formal definition:

A fine-tooth saw with its upper edge stiffened by a metal rib to ensure straight cuts.

A backsaw is a type of hand saw that is made to cut things accurately.

It has a stiffening rib on the edge opposite the cutting edge, which makes it easier to control and more accurate than other saws.

In woodworking, backsaws are often used to cut dovetails, mitres, or tenons in cabinetry and joinery.

Types of Backsaws

There are different kinds of backsaws based on their size and how they are used.

Backsaws that are bigger are called "tenon saws", and those that are smaller are called "dovetail saws".

There are also the mitre saw, the gents saw, the razor saw, the sash saw, and the dozuki.

People often call the mitre saw a big backsaw because it is used to cut miters at any angle.

A gents saw, also called a gentleman's saw, is like a dovetail saw, but it can be told apart by the way its handle is made.

Blade Characteristics

The blade of a backsaw is usually between 8 and 14 inches long and is shaped like a rectangle.

It has a hardwood or plastic handle and a metal-reinforced back edge opposite the teeth to keep the blade from bending as it cuts.

The blades of backsaws are usually three or four inches wide and shorter than the blades of handsaws.

Most backsaws have teeth that cut in both directions, and there are 11 to 20 teeth per inch.

When the smaller blade and brass or steel reinforcement are used together, it gives you more control.

Using a Backsaw

To use a backsaw safely, you should first make sure the wood is firmly held in a wood vice or clamps so it does not move while you cut.

Use a pencil to mark where to cut.

Put the middle teeth of the saw on the line, and then push the saw to start the cut.

Continue moving the teeth carefully over the line until you reach the depth you want.


Backsaws need to be sharpened every so often, either by a professional or with a good tool for sharpening saws.

With regular maintenance, the saw will stay sharp and work well.

Discover the Power of Precision with Backsaws

Still hard to understand? Let me change the point of view a bit:

Are you sick of making bad cuts and throwing away good wood? Well, have you thought about using a rusty, dull saw with no ribs at all? I mean, who needs to work with wood with precision and accuracy? Just grab any saw you can find and cross your fingers.

Of course, you could use a backsaw instead if you do not want to take unnecessary risks and mess up your hard work.

But hey, it is your project, so do what you want.

Okay, that was just a joke made to look like a TV ad.

Now let's go back to the explanation.

Backsaw Features

A backsaw is a type of handsaw with a stiffening rib on the edge opposite the cutting edge.

This makes it easier to control and cut more precisely than other saws.

There are different kinds of backsaws that are made for different uses.

The tenon saw, dovetail saw, and sash saw are the most common kinds.

Most tenon and dovetail saws have a handle that looks like a pistol grip.

The bottom of the handle can be open or closed.

Most saws have steel or brass on the back of the blade.

Blade Characteristics

The blade of a backsaw is square and made of high-quality steel.

The length of the blade varies from 6 to 20 inches, depending on the type of backsaw.

The back edge of the blade is made of metal so that it will not bend when cutting.

Backsaws have teeth that are close together and have little or no set.

Each inch has 11 to 20 teeth.

Crosscut and rip saws are the two main types of backsaws in terms of how they work.

Crosscut saws have teeth that go in the opposite direction of the blade and are used to make smooth cuts across the grain.

Rip saws have teeth that are slightly bent away from the blade and are used to cut with the grain.

Handle Design

Usually, a backsaw's handle is made of wood or plastic.

Most tenon and dovetail saws have a handle that looks like a pistol grip.

The bottom of the handle can be open or closed.

When you use the saw, you have more control because of the smaller blade and the brass or steel reinforcement.

Mitre Saws

Even though mitre saws are often called large backsaws (20–30 inches or 60–90 cm) that are used in a wooden or metal mitre box or in a metal frame to cut mitres at any angle, they are technically a type of power saw, not a backsaw.

Applications of Backsaws

Backsaws are a type of handsaw that can be used for many different tasks.

For example, they can be used to cut dovetails, mitres, or tenons in cabinetry and joinery.

They work best for making small cuts in wood and making joints or grooves.

The tenon saw, dovetail saw, sash saw, and mitre saw are all different kinds of backsaws.

Here are some of the ways backsaws are used in engineering:

Fine Woodworking

Backsaws are often used to make wooden joints and fittings because they can make fine cuts.

Backsaws are often used by cabinetmakers, furniture makers, and other woodworkers who need to make fine cuts or joints.

For finer joints, you should use a smaller dovetail saw.

Cutting across the grain

Backsaws can be used to cut across the grain of the wood, just like crosscut saws that are bigger and more flexible.

You can also get them with hardened teeth for cutting plastics or brass, or with handles that are angled so that you can cut flush with a surface.

Cutoff Work

Backsaws can also be used to make simple cuts or to do precise work like cutting small joints to make dovetails.

Safe Use of Backsaws

To use a backsaw safely, make sure the wood is firmly held in a wood vice or clamps so it does not move while you are cutting.

Use a pencil to mark where to cut.

Put the middle teeth of the saw on the line, and then push the saw to start the cut.

Continue moving the teeth carefully over the line until you reach the length you want.

Backsaws need to be sharpened every so often, either by a professional or with a good tool for sharpening saws.

Stiffening Metal Rib in Backsaws

A backsaw is a hand saw used in woodworking for precise tasks like cutting dovetails, mitres, or tenons in cabinetry and joinery.

One thing that makes a backsaw stand out is the rib that makes the edge opposite the cutting edge stiffer.

The stiffening rib is a metal piece that makes the blade thicker.

This rib is called the back, and it is swaged (and maybe spot-welded) along the length of the top edge of the blade.

Benefits of the Stiffening Rib

The stiffening metal rib on the top edge of a backsaw helps make sure straight cuts by giving you more control and accuracy when cutting.

The line will help you cut in a straight line.

Because the back makes backsaws thin and stiff, it also limits how deep they can cut.

Proper Use of a Backsaw

When using a backsaw, it is important to make sure it has the right amount of flex, tension, and crown on the blade.

The saw should bend easily when you bend it, but it should straighten out quickly when you let go.

Built-in tension means bending the saw with a straight edge across the blade to see if there is a slight bow.

If the saw's tension is right, the bow should have a smooth curve and not look crooked.

Blade crown means to hold the saw out in front of you and look at the teeth.

The pressure needed to cut wood is higher because only a few of the teeth are touching the wood at any given time.

Maintenance of Backsaws

With regular use, a backsaw can last for several years, but the exact length of time will depend on a number of things.

How long a backsaw lasts depends on how often it is used, what it is used to cut, and how well it is taken care of.

For example, a backsaw that is used often on harder materials like hardwood may wear out faster than one that is used less often on softer materials like pine.

The saw's durability will also depend on how well it is made and what it is made of.

If you take care of it and keep it in good shape, a well-made, high-quality backsaw can last for decades.

To keep a backsaw working well and lasting a long time, you need to do a few things.

Here are some tips on how to keep a backsaw in good shape:

  • Clean the blade often.

Remove sawdust and resin from between the teeth of the saw blade to keep it clean and free of dust.

  • Sharpen the blade regularly: Sharpen the blade with a file, diamond sharpening steel or whetstone to maintain its cutting performance.
  • Wipe the blade with paste wax: Give the blade an occasional wipe with paste wax to help prevent rust.
  • Store the saw properly: Store the saw in a dry place and protect it from impact and other tools to help extend its lifespan.
  • Maintain the handle: If the saw has a wooden handle, keep it dry and occasionally wax it to prevent splitting or cracking.
  • Check for bent teeth: Check for bent teeth and pick-up which can be removed by smoothing it off with a hand-held hone-stone.
  • Remove backlash when changing blades: To remove backlash when changing blades, lift up on the front of the blade and hold it in place before tightening the bolt all the way.

By following these tips, you can keep your backsaw in great shape and make sure it lasts for many years.

Choosing a Backsaw

When choosing a backsaw, you should think about a few things to make sure it fits your needs.

It is important to think about how the tool will be used, what it will be cutting, and how precise you want it to be.

Also important to think about are the blade's material, thickness, overall build quality, and how comfortable the handle is.

Price range

Price ranges for good quality backsaws can be very wide, depending on brand, quality, and features, among other things.

Some backsaws cost between $20 and $30, while others can cost as much as $100 or more (At the time of writing).

Depending on how good they are and how rare they are, vintage versions may cost even more.

Blade measurements and technical features

The type of cut you can make with a saw depends on the length, width, and thickness of the blade.

Another technical feature to think about is the number of teeth per inch.

More teeth per inch make for smoother cuts.

You should also think about how the handle is made, since a comfortable grip can make long-term use easier.

Other factors to consider

The material of the blade is an important thing to think about.

High-carbon steel or Japanese steel are both good options.

The thickness of the blade is another thing to think about.

Blades with thicker edges can do more heavy-duty work.

A strong brass or steel back edge can also add to the overall quality of the build.

Lastly, it is important to think about the saw's balance, weight, and handle comfort to make sure it is easy to use and will not hurt your hands after long use.

To sum up, you need to think carefully about more than just price when choosing a backsaw.

You can choose the best backsaw for your needs by thinking about how you want to use it, what you want to cut, and how precise you want to be.

You should also look at the blade's measurements, technical features, and other things like the blade's material, thickness, overall build quality, and handle comfort.

Using a Backsaw with a Miter Box

A miter box is a useful tool for woodworkers who like to use hand tools because it lets them make precise cuts at angles.

Here's how to use a backsaw with a miter box.

Setting up the Miter Box

  • Clamp the miter box securely to the workbench or table.

This will stop it from moving while you are cutting.

  • Choose the appropriate angle slot for your cut.

Most miter boxes have 45-degree and 90-degree slots.

  • If your miter box has pegs, put one in a hole close to the wood to keep it from moving.

Turn the peg to secure the piece of wood.

If your miter box does not have pegs, you can use your free hand to hold the wood in place.

Keep your hand away from the blade of the saw.

Making the Cut

  • Insert the backsaw into the appropriate slot in the miter box.
  • Position the saw blade so that its teeth are just touching where you want to cut.
  • Start sawing slowly and steadily through your piece of wood until you reach the other side.
  • Repeat the process for any additional cuts.

Checking Accuracy

Before you use a miter box to cut wood, you should check its accuracy to make sure that your cuts will be straight.

  • Place a piece of wood in the miter box and cut straight across at 90 degrees.
  • Flip over one half of your board and see if it lines up perfectly with the other half.

If not, make changes as needed.

Using a miter box and a backsaw is a simple way to cut angles in woodworking projects without using power tools.

By doing things like clamping down your miter box before using it and checking its accuracy before starting work, as described above, you can always get great results.

Making a budget backsaw

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Use cases

Used in:Description:
Fine Woodworking:Backsaws are great for fine woodworking projects where accuracy and precision are very important.They are especially helpful for making tenons, dovetails, and box joints.
Cabinetry:Backsaws are often used by cabinetmakers to cut wood in precise crosscuts, miter cuts, and rip cuts.They are perfect for cutting the thin pieces of wood that are often used to make cabinets.
Trim Work:Backsaws are also great for cutting trim pieces like baseboards, crown molding, and other decorative moldings.Their small teeth and stiffening rib make it possible to make clean, precise cuts, which are important for trim work.
Joinery:Backsaws can also be used to make precise cuts when putting together furniture, doors, and other woodworking projects that need joinery.They can be used to make accurate cuts for mortises, tenons, and other joints that need them.
Hand Tool Woodworking:Backsaws are an important tool for woodworkers who like to use traditional tools and methods.When working with hand tools like chisels and hand planes, they are perfect for making precise cuts.
Construction:Backsaws are also used to cut thin pieces of wood for finishing work, such as trim and molding.They can also be used to make precise cuts in framing lumber when building custom cabinets or other interior finishes.


As we finish talking about backsaws, it is important to remember that this small but powerful tool has been an important part of woodworking for hundreds of years.

Even though modern technology has created a lot of high-tech tools, the backsaw is still a tried-and-true way to make precise cuts and get high-quality results.

As a student or professional engineer, it is easy to get caught up in the newest ideas and trends.

But let us not forget how useful old tools like the backsaw are.

By learning how to use this tool well and putting it to use in our work, we can honor the history of our craft while also pushing the limits of what is possible.

So, the next time you have a woodworking project, you might want to pick up a backsaw and see how powerful this old tool is.

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