The saw serves numerous purposes. A careful workman would choose the saw that does the job effectively and having the least effort.
Six types of saw are especially useful in a home workshop:
(1) the hand ripsaw;
(2) the hand crosscut saw;
(3) the compass or keyhole saw;
(4) the coping saw;
(5) the backsaw;
(6) the hacksaw.
These vary in shape, length, number and position of their teeth, and the curve of the back. There is more to the blade of a saw than meets the untrained eye. The metal must be of tempered spring steel so that the teeth couldbe filed and sharpened. The edge with the teeth is a bit thicker than the rest of the blade, to have firmness at the cutting edge. The handle must be made of a hardwood, formed to give a good handhold, decently fastened with brass rivets and finished to protect from deterioration. Each of these features changes the usefulness of the tool. Thus a skewback blade, having a slight curve at the end, is more pliant than a straight backsaw.
But the important component in a saw blade is the number, size, shape, and direction of its teeth. The teeth are set alternately in reverse directions to give a cut broader than the blade itself. Otherwise the blade will bend in the cut (the kerf). How much the tool must be bent depends upon the type of wood that will be cut; the softer and wetter the wood, the wider the cut (kerf) should be.
A good saw must be flexible. A veteran shopper always bends the blade back so that the end nearly touches the handle. If it springs back, the saw must be absolutely straight. If it is wisely selected, a steel saw will give a long, clear ring when the blade is snapped. The cutting edge should be thicker than the top edge. The blade surface must be ground and polished.