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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Southern Brisbane, QLD

    Default Rip vs Crosscut vs Panel Saws

    I did a forum search but couldn't find anything on this, so I figured I'd ask.

    The woodworking books I have distinguish between rip, crosscut and panel saws. These books aren't old - they've all been published post-2000. When I go into bunnings, or look in the carbatec catalogue, there are crosscut and panel saws but there don't seem to be any rip saws. Do people not use these any more?

    And while I'm at it, I may as well ask - is there a brand of saw I should go after that sits above "bargain basement" but isn't as expensive as Pax (which seems to be carbatec's mainstay)? Is the upper end of the bunnings range OK? I got my spear and jackson brass-backed tenon saw there, and it seems OK so far.

    Thanks guys,

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006


    Hand saws types are generally defined by the size of the teeth and the angles they are sharpened at. I imagine it would be somewhat hard to find a new rip saw for sale these days, although it is quite easy to convert a crosscut saw to a rip saw simply by re-sharpening the teeth, keeping the file at 90 degrees to the saw blade during the proces and with no "down-angle" on the file handle (ie. horizontal). This is what distinguishes the "rip" from the "crosscut" - one cuts along the grain (rip) and one cuts across the grain. The panel saw is pretty much a cross cut saw with a smaller tooth size for more detailed work, although some (me) like to change the "rake" (forward angle) of the tooth a little.

    Although the subtleties and difference in appearance is slight, the differing performance on each type of cut is dramatic. The rip saw cut tends to act like a series of little chisels cutting a square trench along the grain, while the crosscut acts like a series of left & right hand knife cuts neatly severing the fibres on each side of the cut. When the saw is properly sharpened you can quite clearly see this in action if you remove the saw from the timber and closely examine the kerf (saw cut). You would also generally prefer to have a tooth size of around 4-6 teeth per inch for a rip saw - quite large.

    With the cost nowadays of a GMC power saw (not that I'd own one) at around $30-$40 the rip saw probably holds little appeal these days, and they can be hard work as well. If you wanted one I would look for a nice Disston handsaw (1950-1960 vintage) on eBay and send it off to the saw doctor for a clean-up and resharpening in the rip saw profile.

    There's a lot to be said for the hardened point disposable saws which are every where these days. They last for ages under all sorts of use & abuse and you just chuck them when blunt and buy another for $20.00. However, I've still got my full set of hand saws in my saw bags and my sharpening clamp, even if I don't use them too often any more.

    Don't Just Do It.... Do It HardenFast!!

    Regards - Wayne

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Forest Grove, Oregon USA


    Hi James,

    In general, most authors since the early 1900s use the designation of "panel" saw for any saw irregardless of tooth configuration for hand saws 24" or shorter. A few authors make the break between "panel" and "hand saw" a little less than 24" (I've seen 20" and 22" as the divider).

    Generally (and back in the day), the shorter the saw is the thinner the plate is the blade comes from and or the degree of taper grinding. As well, the most sold tooth configurations were more teeth per inch as the saw gets shorter. All makes sense.

    Pax and Roberts and Lee do still make rip hand saws. I don't think S&J does any longer, nor does Bahco (formerly the Sandvik brand).

    As long as the saw is not the hardpoint type, like Wayne says, a cross cut can easily become a rip profile (and vice versa). And also like he mentions, a good used saw is a viable option. I've got a "few" that I have gotten from either eBay or second-hand shops.

    Take care, Mike

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Southern Brisbane, QLD


    Thanks guys.

    It seems strange that my books talk about getting a rip saw when they're not readily available .

    I'm enjoying working with hand tools hence why I wanted to make sure the equipment I get is right for the task. There is something very fulfilling about doing things by hand rather than buzzing straight through a piece of timber.

    Will using a hard-tooth crosscut saw for ripping reasonably short lengths damage the saw, or just be bloody hard work?

    (Off to check ebay for a Disston )

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