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40 years ago when I was first learning to work with wood, there were crosscut and rip saws, each used for their own purpose. As I recall you could use a crosscut saw for either job. A rip saw could only be used for ripping wood. I have just recently got back into working with wood, and I don't think I have seen a saw proclaiming it is one type or the other.

While this question is primarily focused on hand saws, information about power saws would be welcome also.

Are rip saws still sold and used?

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Hand saws may never get used in a shop that turns out cabinets exclusively, but in most shops they have a wide variety of uses. Yes, there are specific rip and crosscut saws, but the woodworkers I know have mostly adopted Japanese style hand saws. A ryoba saw is a great tool to have around. It has crosscut teeth on one side and ripping teeth on the other. And the small oval shaped haft or handle allows very precise control. Most Japanese saws have an incredibly thin kerf which makes them easier to use as well.

ryoba saw

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    Worth noting that these saws typically cut on the pull stroke, which has its advantages (less binding in the cut) but takes some getting used to. cheers. – Steve Scott Mar 21 '15 at 21:18
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    Good catch. Yes, they cut on the pull stroke which has it's pros and cons. Keep in mind that western style saws are made of much thicker and stiffer steel, if you used steel as thin as Japanese style saws and tried to make a saw that cuts on the push stroke, the saw would simply bend all over. – cathode Mar 21 '15 at 23:00
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There are definitely still rip saw vs. crosscut saw blades for circular saws. Attention should be paid to purchase the right blade for the right task, since the tooth design in the blade dictates whether the saw will produce a nicely finished edge when the cut is complete. They do make saws that are designed to do either ripping or crosscutting, but some will argue that those general purpose sawblades do neither cut effectively.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that toothcount can help compensate for an improper blade type with regards to keeping the edge clean, but the wood piece will still feed more hesitantly if the blade is designed for a rip cut and you're doing a large crosscut.

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It's also worth mentioning that old rip saws are fairly easy to find on eBay and, I'd wager, at garage and estate sales just about anywhere. Finding one in decent shape to use may be more of a challenge, but there is no shortage of online tutorials for fixing up old tools. Here are some interesting links.

WK Fine Tools internet magazine has a fairly thorough selection of articles on restoring and repairing old hand saws, along with tons of information about other tools.

http://www.wkfinetools.com/tRestore/saw/sawsRestore-index.asp

Matt Cianci is a craftsman in Rhode Island who makes, sharpens and restores saws. He also teaches, but it's unclear how far he strays from the northeast to do this. You can send him an old saw for tune-up or just browse the site for useful info. Some pretty cool links.

http://www.thesawwright.com/index.html

  • I have sent one saw to Matt Cianci (mentioned above) and his sharpening skill is excellent. The saw cut surprisingly fast. Popular Woodworking (sold at shopwoodworking.com) also produced a video of Matt restoring a saw and it is also very useful. – glw Mar 21 '15 at 20:04
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As far as hand saws go, they definitely have a place in the shop. I own 7 rip saws and not a single cross cut saw. From the research I have done, crosscut saws are a new-ish tool and you don't need them.

Why? Well, when cross cutting project-sized wood (say 3/4" or thinner" a rip saw does a great job and the tear out is minimal. You can eliminate all tear out on the back side if you score the wood with a knife first. On thicker stock (more than 1" or so) a cross cut can be faster, but it still isn't needed. It is only now I am considering converting one of my rip cut saws to cross cut, and that is only because I have a "spare" 5TPI saw and quite a bit of 8/4 stock to creak down.

In my experience (granted it is only 5 years) tooth count is more important than rip/cross.

  • in my experience (35 years) absolutely agreed, 100%. But I think we are pretty lonely in our opinion - how did you come upon your discovery of the Truth? :) – Benchwerks Mar 27 '17 at 2:23
  • @Benchwerks I guess I just stumbled into it over time and then had my feelings validated by well known experts in the field. (Schwartz, Sellers, and a local craftsman) – user234 Apr 25 '17 at 18:40

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