How to Use a Tenon Saw Correctly – (Use Like A Pro)

Joinery is form of woodworking and probably the most common task in a woodworker’s shop.

Likewise, tools like dovetails and tenon saws are also found in the chest of a woodworker. When you want to shape a tenon that fits in a mortise, you get to use a tenon saw.

This article is, however, to deliver a clear guideline on how to use a tenon saw correctly. If you feel you want to learn the skill, read this step-by-step guide and become on of those joiners that take their craftsmanship to the next level.

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How Does a Tenon Saw Work?

First thing first, let’s discuss over the most fundamental questions here: what is a tenon saw and how does it work?

A tenon saw belongs to the backsaw family, and the reason for such classification is that they all have a brass liner that keeps the blade straight and firm.

As the name suggests, a tenon saw is used to cut a piece of wood to form a tenon. It works somewhat like traditional handsaws where position the saw on the material and cut through it by moving the saw back and forth.

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Let’s Learn How to Use a Tenon Saw Correctly

A woodworker using a tenon saw

A tenon saw can perform two types of cut: crosscuts and longitudinal cuts. Here is a step-by-step guide for both cuts.

Safety First

When you use a tenon saw or other tools with sharp edges, always keep your precious organs at a safe distance. In this case, don’t let your fingers fall under and by the cutting edge of the saw.

Crosscuts Using Tenon Saw

The crosscut, also known as the radial cut is one of the most common saw cuts used. It’s made by cutting across (perpendicular) to a piece of wood, rather than along its length or with it. This technique is often preferred when you need to make quick work out of smaller pieces like molding and trim.

Moreover, the tenon saw is an excellent tool for making precise crosscuts because it has teeth that are angled in such a way that they will produce smooth results every time. Read on to learn how to use one safely!

1. Draw a Cut Line: Take a pencil and draw a line on the wood that shows where you want to cut.

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2. Clamp: Fixate the wood to a workbench using C-clamps so that it does not wobble when making the cut.

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3. Hold the Saw: Hold the tenon saw with all your fingers except the index finger, for it will be there to point forward and to support the saw.

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4. Align and Score: Align the tenon saw with cutting line and move it forward with a little pressure cutting a score on the drawn line. The score will allow you to cut through the line accurately and achieve the desired shape.

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5. Saw through the Score Line: Keeping the saw perpendicular to the wood and straight to the score, move it back and forth to cut through the material. After 7 or 8 strokes, you are likely to cut 1-inch lumber with your sharp tenon saw.

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Pro Tip: Use your free hand to put extra weight on the saw by pushing it down.


Also Read: How to Pick A Perfect Shoulder Plane.

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Longitudinal Cut Using Tenon Saw

Longitudinal cuts are a type of joint that is created when two boards meet with their edges touching.  The most popular way to cut a longitudinal joint is with the use of a tenon saw, which splits the wood down the middle and creates an opening for glue to be inserted. Now, let’s see the process of longitudinally-cut using a tenon saw so you can get started building your next project!

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1. Draw Lines: Draw the cut lines with a pencil. Draw a perpendicular on the edge of the wood as well; it will help you to align the saw correctly.

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2. Attach the Wood to the Workbench: Fixate the workpiece firmly in a vise.

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3. Cut through the Line: Now cut through the line while supporting the saw with your free hand. You should be very careful performing the first strokes. Don’t let the saw be bent.

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Benefits of Using A Tenon Saw

Do you know why the Tenon saw has become a popular tool among homeowners, professional craftsmen and even carpenters? It does not take much effort to discover why. Let’s see its advantages

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Easy to Use

Tenon saws are easier to use compared to standard sawing. They have a thinner blade, which can be used even by those who have smaller hands. You simply need to apply a bit of pressure and let the mechanism do the hard work for you.

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Less Effort Required

Compared to regular saws with larger blades, requiring more effort on your part, the Tenon saw is more efficient. It provides you with an effortless cutting experience without making too much noise while at it.

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Less Likely to be Snagged

The thin blade of these kinds of saws are less likely to get stuck in wood or other materials you are trying to cut through. This makes them a safer tool to use compared to larger saws.

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Excellent for Detailed Work

Do you need to make some delicate cuts? The Tenon saw is perfect for this kind of application. Regular saws might get in the way or destroy your project, but a Tenon saw can help opt for a cleaner and more precise cut.

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Easy to Control

Most newbie saw users find it hard to use a table saw or radial arm saw because these require a lot of effort and skills to make precise cuts. Meanwhile, the tenon saw can be used by amateurs because it is very easy to control.


Read Also: How to Choose A High Quality Timber Framing Chisel.

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Yeah, that’s it. Now, you know how to use a tenon saw correctly. These are so simple steps that you can learn them easily and quickly. The key is to follow the guidelines and after practicing a couple of times, you will be able to use a tenon saw, quite frankly, like a pro. This is not hard to learn and anyone who loves to learn will find it easy and fun.

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