How to Use a Saw Without Hurting Your Back

man with mask cutting lumber with a hand saw

When tool experts tell you how to use a saw safely, they usually focus on how to avoid cutting yourself, hurting your eyes, or injuring other people. Rarely do they mention that using a saw can strain your back.

Here's how to use a saw the right way, without causing yourself back pain, either immediately or eventually.

Holding a Saw

It seems like a no-brainer but holding a saw does take some special positioning. Holding the saw in the way that feels most natural to you might not be the best way to hold the saw to keep your back supported and protected.

Because a saw can be a deadly weapon, you might instinctively hold it as far away from your body as you can. But holding a saw out and away from yourself puts a lot of strain on your muscles. You'll get tired more quickly.

You're also compromising your balance, so you may not react as quickly or as effectively if there is an accident. You want to support the saw coming from your center of gravity.

While holding the saw, keep your elbows tucked in toward your body and keep them slightly bent. Rest the body of the saw on your own body, against your waist your thigh. This will provide stability.

This means the back end of the saw should be against your body. However, under no circumstances should you ever cut across or above any part of your body. The saw will still be pointed out toward what you are cutting, with your body under the body of the saw and not under the blade.

person with gloved hands cutting lumber with saw

A saw is a powerful tool. This naturally encourages you to hang on tightly to establish control. But if you're very tightly gripping the saw, your muscles are much more rigid. This sets your body against impact, which can be more painful and put more strain on muscles.

You want to be just a little loose and a little relaxed. Hold the saw firmly but not tightly. Your muscles shouldn't be tight and tense.

Good Sawing Form

Make cuts with long, smooth strokes. Don't put your weight on the saw or put your muscles into it. That means you shouldn’t be bearing down on the saw. You don't want to put your back into it, as they say, because this will simply put a strain on your back. Allow the saw to do the work.

Saw Stance

standing person cutting lumber with a saw

Stand firmly on your feet the whole time you’re using a saw. Keep your feet about hip-width apart. Keep your knees soft and relaxed, not locked and rigid. Stand square, with your hips directly in line with your knees and your shoulders directly over your hips, back straight.

When you’re holding a saw and you’re using a saw, remember that you are in charge. You are in control. If you lose control at any time, stop what you’re doing immediately and put the saw down as safely as possible. Step back, gather yourself, and only take up the saw again when you’re ready.

All safety factors should come into play when you’re using a saw. You want to prevent back pain and strain but you also want to prevent cutting yourself or being harmed in any way. Flying debris and the saw blade itself can be very dangerous.

When you master using a saw, you open up a wide variety of DIY carpentry projects. There are so many different things you can do and build and change once you know some basic saw techniques.

But no matter how much experience you have using a saw, it’s always important to maintain proper positioning and grip. Never get casual about safety or you can seriously injure your back or worse.