When I am using larger hand saws, like my big rip saw, I have a problem when I pull back. The blade "buckles" and flaps back and forth. As a result pulling the blade back through is harder and the blade "skips" back through. These are Western saws to clarify.

I had though that I was holding the saw at a slight angle but that was not helping.

I wish I could add more details here but I just need to know what I am doing wrong that is causing my saws to flop around.

  • Is there a chance the saws have a problem with the set of the teeth or are you pretty sure it's a technique thing? – Graphus Sep 22 '15 at 17:03
  • @Graphus The set could very well be off. These are old saws. I will look more closely at them. – Matt Sep 22 '15 at 17:33

Make sure you're applying force in line with the blade; shift your stance as necessary to achieve this. It may help to extend your index finger along the blade, to help you feel where the force should be going.

Do not push down through the cut. Let the weight of the blade and its motion do the work, whenever possible.

For thin-kerf cuts, use a saw that had a stiffening bar along its back, or consider a Japanese-style pull saw.


That's part of the nature of Western-pattern saws, unless they're extremely finely tuned - they tend to "flutter" on the return stroke. That's because a thousandth of an inch of misalignment in the kerf triangulates out to a pretty large fraction of an inch at the far tip, so if the saw vibrates within the kerf, the tip will flutter.

The best advice I can lend, beyond cleaning off any rust, waxing the blade, and really fine-tuning the saw's set and sharpness, it so touch the side of the blade with the tip of your front hand's index finger on the return stroke. It doesn't take any great pressure, just enough to damp the blade's vibration.


I have a problem when I pull back. The blade "buckles" and flaps back and forth.

I take this to mean that the far end of the saw (on the opposite side of the cut) flaps back and forth as you saw?

It's really all about the application of the force. If you don't apply force in line with the blade, you're going to get odd vibration and movement, and your cuts won't be straight.

Also, your saw could be binding in the kerf. This is either caused by the kerf closing in on itself due to the wood warping or just friction between the blade and the wood. In the latter case, your saw could have an insufficient amount of set or just needs a quick swipe of lubrication along its length. This friction will set up resonance along the length of the blade when you pull back, hence the wiggling on the far end.

As @keshlam says, let the weight of the saw do the work and don't force it down. That will definitely buckle the saw when pushing it through the cut and could contribute to the friction issue I highlighted above.

And, as always, make sure your saw is properly sharpened and correctly set for best results. I can't tell you how many times I've had a saw behave badly because I failed to do these two things.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.