If you have ever been disappointed by your results when
hand sawing a joint, the problem could be that you are
going about the task in the wrong manner. While sawing
requires practice, it also is helped along by a few clever
and quick tricks.
Years ago I read an English woodworking book that separated
all sawing into three kinds of cuts: first-, second-
and third-class saw cuts. Each type of cut has a different
purpose. Third class sawing is for removing material
with little regard for accuracy or appearance. Second
class sawing is for cuts that require accuracy, but
the final appearance of the cut isn't critical. And
first class sawing is for situations in which the appearance
of the completed kerf is paramount.
Third-Class Saw Cuts
This type of cut is fast, rudimentary and useful when breaking
down rough lumber into manageable pieces. Use it only
when the board is going to be refined further; for instance,
in circumstances where you will shoot the ends with
a plane or crosscut the board to a finished length with
a powered saw or finer handsaw.
Begin by marking the cut-line on the face and edge
of your board with a pencil. Place the teeth of your
saw on the waste side of your line and use your thumb
to keep the saw positioned as you make your initial
strokes to define your kerf. Advance on the face and
edge of your board simultaneously to increase your accuracy.
Saw rapidly through the board until you get near the
end of your cut. Then use lighter and shorter strokes
to cut the waste away cleanly.