Hand saw techniques (depth stop, guides, etc)
I'm a big baby. I own two circular saws, a table saw, a chop saw (not the sliding kind, unfortunately), and a jig saw. I use them all, but for quick, small cuts, it usually seems like a lot less work to grab my hand dovetail saw or longer carpenter's hand crosscut saw.
My shop doesn't have a ton of space, so I keep the power tools on shelves most of the time. Getting them down and setting them up is a bit of work. Hand saws are light, and unless I have a lot of material to cut, they're my first choice. It helps that they are quiet and won't disturb anyone else in the house. I like to work late in the evenings sometimes and the kids are often asleep.
Clearly I don't do production work.
Anyway, I've been reading about hand saw technique. There is a lot of skill involved. I have very little of it. So I've been cheating. Let's see... Various tricks I've read about or used for crosscutting:
- knuckle guide - I place my knuckle against the saw and attempt to use it as a guide as I cut. Not very effective, usually, but if I go slow I can get good results
- clamped wood guide - for longer cuts I take a piece of straight wood and clamp it on my cut line. Just like using a knuckle, but I can concentrate on sawing instead of holding my knuckle steady. This is similar to using a clamped guide with a circular saw. Seems pretty effective, and all I need is a nice straight piece of wood. Can be reused without modification.
- L shaped guide - like the clamped guide, but you just slide it onto the wood you are cutting and hold it in place by hand while cutting.
- knife wall - I just watched Paul Sellers do this in a video today. Cut a deep knife line, then chisel up to the line so there is a nice clean wall. This way no guide is necessary. Possibly slower than clamping, depending on the length of the cut (repeated chisel cuts).
Ok... What about depth management (like for dovetails, dados, cuts to aid in material removal while chiseling, etc):
- eyeball it - this is difficult for me. The sawdust obscures the cut line, my blade is not perfectly flat while cutting, so I usually undershoot the mark or overshoot it. Lots of skill and practice involved. Difficulty increases as the length of the cut increases.
- depth guide clamped to the saw - basically a C clamp holding a strip of wood to the saw. alternative method is a piece of wood fixed with double sided tape. Seems like it works best if the piece of wood is cut precisely as wide as the depth of the cut. That seems like a lot of work because you'll need a new piece of wood for each cut. But maybe you can use a thin piece and lock it in place with the C clamp, allowing reuse for different depths. I haven't tried this yet. Seems interesting.
- custom saws with depth guide attachments etc - seems like overkill to me. I saw an article from a magazine in 1981 where they recommended drilling holes in a saw for mounting sliding depth guides. I've also seen Japanese dovetail saws with jigs attached from the factory.
Did I miss anything? Do you have a favorite tip or trick?