Even if you’re outfitted with three or four types of power saws, there are times when you’ll need a handsaw. More and more North American carpenters — of both the finish and the rough construction variety — are discovering a tool their Japanese counterparts have used for centuries.
It’s called the pull-stroke saw. Instead of pushing the saw on the cut-stroke, as you do with an ordinary handsaw, you– well, you get the picture.
So what are the advantages.
First off, it’s a more natural motion. Budding carpenters in shop classes across the country have to be reminded to push when cutting; their first instinct is to try and cut on the pull stroke. The more natural the effort, the easier it is, and that makes sense for fine carpentry, and cutting a 2×4.
It’s also easier because the blade is thinner — up to half as thick as a push-stroke saw. Push-strokes must be strong enough to withstand the pushing motion, but a pull-stroke saw doesn’t.
Unlike thick push-stroke blades being forced into the cut, there’s less chance for binding, and in fact, the blade cleans itself on the return stroke, setting itself up for another good cut (more akin to a slice than a tear).
Pull-stroke saws also weigh less than traditional Western saws, so framers and renovators find them handy for overhead cuts and cuts in awkward areas.
Of course, that narrow blade means a narrower kerf, which makes the saw ideal for precise, clean cuts in finish work and cabinetry.
Next we’ll help you choose one.