Crosscut Saw: 6 Uses Explained

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A crosscut saw is a handy tool with valuable uses for its owner and operator. Crosscut saws have been used since the days of the Roman Empire. There are basically two types of crosscut saws: a felling saw and a bucking saw. The felling saw is the familiar one used by lumberjacks to take down trees. A bucking saw is used to cut wood already felled. Although many modern uses now employ chainsaws, crosscut saws are still a popular choice because they are lighter and more eco-friendly than chainsaws. Crosscut saws are designed to cut across the wood grain without tearing it.

Tree Felling

The two-person crosscut saw has long been employed in the felling of large-diameter trees. Unlike a chainsaw, a crosscut saw has no moving blades. The blade contains one to two teeth per inch for optimum cutting. Crosscut saw teeth are sharpened in an alternating design, allowing for the saw to score the wood grain before spitting out wood made from the cut. Advantages over a chainsaw include more flexibility, lighter weight, and use of a wedge is possible.

The flexibility allows the saw to rise with the user’s arc motion. As the saw is pulled toward the user it rises, keeping it from binding. Using a springboard platform, an operator also transmits energy from the legs, employing a rocking motion back and forth on the toes. Due to the fact that felling saws are a two-person operation and specifically designed for cutting down trees, they are limited to this use only.

Two-Man Bucksaw

person next to a cut tree

Again, this is a saw that has one to two teeth per inch and is used to cut felled trees, for example, as firewood. Each operator pulls at the saw handle on either end, developing a back and forth rhythm that produces a quick and even cut.


A backsaw can be a useful tool in cabinet making. It can contain a fine tooth combination with 12 to 16 teeth per inch. A professional or advanced amateur cabinet maker will use a backsaw for intricate dovetailing work or cutting shoulders on tenons, which are the male extensions inserted into a mortise to join two pieces of wood.

Hand saw

A hand saw is a popular tool used by all carpenters. This is a crosscut saw that is used for cutting boards to length across the grain. Uses include cutting joists, 2 x 4s or for trim. It cuts cleanly across the grain.

Bow Saw

A bow saw is a popular tool with a narrow crosscut blade, supported by a bow, which also serves as the saw handle. Typical uses include pruning tree branches and cutting small diameter wood for use as firewood.

One-Person Crosscut Saw

cutting a limb with a handsaw

This type of crosscut saw possesses an asymmetrical design with a “D-shaped” handle. The tip of the saw blade has holes for a supplemental handle. These are usually three to four-and-a-half feet long. It can be used for felling small diameter trees as well as cutting firewood.

Crosscut saws were popular tools that had customized, designed wooden handles, making them attractive collectibles today.