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Starting the Saw is Half the Battle

a couple of years ago

I hear from woodworkers all the time who struggle with their hand saws. Usually it has to do with just getting the cut started.

Starting your cut is all about taking the weight off the toe of the saw so that the teeth can glide over the wood. A starting backstroke does nothing but mangle the wood and makes your cut more about guesswork than precision.

On a recent WoodTalk episode I answered a question about this and launched into a complex explanation of an exercise designed to improve your feel for starting the saw accurately. But describing that exercise is where the audio medium fails and video is much better. Hence this video:

There are of course things you can do to the toothline of your saws to make them easier to start like relaxing the rake angle of the first 10-20 teeth or using a finer pitch for the first 10-20 teeth, but I can’t help but feel that is extra work when all that is really needs is a little improvement in technique and a greater feel for the saw. Both of which will vastly improve your sawing accuracy across all your woodworking.

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