What is a crosscut saw used for?

A crosscut saw is a type of hand or power saw designed for making cuts perpendicular to the grain of wood. It is used for cutting lumber, trimming branches, and other woodworking applications where a clean, precise crosswise cut is needed.

Crosscut saws come in various forms, and the choice of which one to use depends on the specific task and personal preferences.

1.     Hand Crosscut Saw: This is a traditional, manual saw with a handle at each end and a toothed blade stretched between them. One person typically stands at each end of the log or workpiece and alternately pulls the saw back and forth to cut. These saws are available in various lengths and tooth patterns to suit different cutting needs.

2.     Two-Man Crosscut Saw: These are more extensive, longer hand saws designed for two people. They have large, coarse teeth and are primarily used for felling and bucking (cutting a felled tree into logs) trees. One person stands on each side of the log and cooperatively operates the saw.

3.     Power Crosscut Saw: These are electric or gasoline-powered saws used for crosscutting timber, lumber, and other wood materials. They are often equipped with circular blades or chains designed explicitly for crosscutting. Power crosscut saws are commonly used in construction, woodworking, and forestry.

4.     Miter Saw (Chop Saw): While not traditionally called a crosscut saw, a miter saw or chop saw is a power tool designed to make precise crosscuts at various angles. It’s commonly used in woodworking and carpentry for making accurate miter cuts, bevel cuts, and straight crosscuts.

5.     Radial Arm Saw: This power tool can perform crosscuts and other types of cuts. It has a motorized blade mounted on a horizontal arm that can be adjusted to make cuts at different angles and depths.

Stake pointing on a crosscut saw

Stake-pointing on a crosscut saw refers to sharpening and aligning the teeth of a crosscut saw to ensure they cut effectively and efficiently. Correctly pointed teeth are essential for making clean and smooth cuts in wood. Here’s how you can stake point a crosscut saw:

Tools and Materials:

  • 1. Crosscut saw in need of sharpening
  • 2. Saw vise or clamps to secure the saw
  • 3. Flat file
  • 4. Saw set (optional for adjusting the set of teeth)
  • 5. Saw jointer (optional, for maintaining consistent tooth height)
  • 6. Triangular file or chainsaw file (for shaping the teeth)


  • Secure the Saw: Place the crosscut saw in a saw vise or secure it using clamps to prevent it from moving during the sharpening process. Ensure the saw is stable and won’t shift as you work on it.
  • Assess the Teeth: Examine the teeth of the saw to determine the extent of sharpening required. Look for any damaged or missing teeth that may need replacement. Check if the teeth have become dull, uneven, or misaligned.
  • Set the Raker Depth (Optional): If your saw has raker teeth (lower, offset teeth designed to remove the wood between the cutting teeth), you may need to adjust their depth using a saw jointer. This ensures that the raker teeth are at the correct height relative to the cutting teeth.
  • Sharpen the Teeth: Start sharpening the teeth one at a time using a flat file. The angle at which you file depends on the type of crosscut saw and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, you should file at the same angle as the existing tooth bevel. Maintain a consistent angle and apply even pressure while filing.
  • Maintain the Tooth Set (Optional): If the saw’s teeth are set (bent outward to create a kerf more expansive than the blade), you can use a saw set tool to adjust the set of the teeth if necessary. This helps maintain the proper kerf width for efficient cutting.
  • Shape the Teeth: You may need to shape the teeth after sharpening. Use a triangular file or chainsaw file to create the desired tooth shape. Some crosscut saws have specific tooth patterns, such as lance or champion teeth, which require specific shaping.
  • Remove Burrs and Clean: Make sure the teeth are clean and free of debris.
  • Test the Saw: Before using the saw on your project, make a few test cuts on scrap wood to ensure it cuts smoothly and efficiently. Make any additional adjustments if necessary.
  • Maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain your crosscut saw to keep it in good working condition. Sharpen the teeth as needed, and store the saw dry to prevent rust.

Types of Crosscut Saws

Crosscut saws come in various types, each designed for specific cutting tasks and conditions. Here are some common types of crosscut saws:

  • Hand Crosscut Saw: This is the traditional manual crosscut saw with a handle at each end and a blade stretched between them. Hand crosscut saws are versatile and come in different lengths and tooth patterns. They are suitable for general woodworking tasks, including cutting lumber and trimming branches.
  •  Two-Man Crosscut Saw: These saws are more prominent and longer than hand crosscut saws and are designed to be operated by two people. They have large, coarse teeth and are primarily used for felling trees and bucking (cutting felled trees into logs). Two-person crosscut saws are commonly used in forestry and logging.
  • One-Person Crosscut Saw: These are smaller crosscut saws designed to be operated by a single person. They are ideal for smaller-scale logging and cutting tasks and are easier to handle than two-person crosscut saws.
  • Pole Saw: Pole saws are specialized crosscut saws mounted on a long pole, allowing users to reach high branches and limbs for pruning and trimming. They are commonly used in arboriculture and tree maintenance.
  • Bucksaw: A bucksaw is a lightweight, frame-style crosscut saw with a thin, narrow blade stretched across the frame. It is often used for cutting firewood and camping purposes due to its portability.
  • Japanese Crosscut Saw (Nokogiri): Nokogiri is a saw used in Japanese woodworking. It has a thin, flexible blade with fine teeth designed for precise crosscuts in woodworking projects. Japanese crosscut saws are known for their precision and clean cuts.
  • Circular Crosscut Saw: These are power saws equipped with a circular blade designed for crosscutting wood quickly and efficiently. Circular crosscut saws are commonly used in construction and larger-scale woodworking projects.
  • Miter Saw (Chop Saw): Although primarily designed for angled cuts, miter saws can also make precise crosscuts at various angles. They are commonly used in carpentry and framing.
  • Radial Arm Saw: Radial arm saws are versatile power tools that perform crosscuts and various other cuts. They have a motorized blade mounted on a horizontal arm that can be adjusted for different angles and depths.
  • Table Saw: While primarily used for rip cuts (cuts parallel to the wood grain), table saws can be equipped with crosscutting sleds or miter gauges to make precise crosscuts. They are commonly found in woodworking shops and are versatile tools for various cutting tasks.
  • Panel Saw: Panel saws are large industrial saws designed for cutting large sheets of material, such as plywood or particleboard, into smaller pieces. They are commonly used in woodworking and cabinetmaking workshops.

One-Person Crosscut Saws

A one-person crosscut saw, also known as a single buck saw, is a type of manual saw designed to be operated by a single person. These saws are primarily used for cutting wood and come in various sizes and designs to suit different cutting tasks. One-person crosscut saws are often used for forestry, firewood gathering, and trail maintenance. 

  • Blade Length: One-person crosscut saws typically have blade lengths ranging from 3 to 6 feet (approximately 0.9 to 1.8 meters). 
  • Blade Teeth: The teeth of a one-person crosscut saw are designed for crosscutting, meaning they have cutting edges perpendicular to the blade’s length. The teeth are usually filed with a specific pattern to ensure efficient cutting.
  • Tooth Design: The tooth design can vary, but common patterns include lance teeth (for faster cutting) and champion teeth (for smoother cuts). The choice of tooth pattern depends on the type of wood you’ll be cutting and your preferences.
  • Tooth Set: One-person crosscut saws often have “set” teeth, which means the teeth are bent slightly outward alternately to create a wider kerf (the cut made by the saw blade). A proper tooth set is essential for preventing binding while cutting.
  • Handles: These saws typically have wooden handles at each end, allowing the user to grip the saw comfortably. Some modern versions may have ergonomic plastic or rubberized handles for improved grip and comfort.
  • Maintenance: One-person crosscut saws require regular maintenance like all saws. This includes keeping the blade sharp, ensuring the teeth are correctly set, and occasionally lubricating the blade to reduce friction.
  • Safety: Always follow safety precautions when using a one-person crosscut saw. Wear appropriate protective gear, ensure proper footing, and use the saw with care to avoid accidents.
  • Applications: One-person crosscut saws are commonly used for felling small to medium-sized trees, cutting logs into manageable lengths, and harvesting firewood. They are also valuable tools for trail maintenance in outdoor and wilderness areas.
  • Portable: One-person crosscut saws are portable and do not require fuel or electricity. This makes them suitable for remote locations where power tools are unavailable.
  • Historical Significance: These saws have a rich history and were once essential tools for pioneers, loggers, and forest workers. They are still used today in traditional and historical reenactments.

Two-Person Crosscut Saws

Two-person crosscut saws, often called “two-man saws,” are manual saws designed to be operated by two individuals working in tandem. These saws are known for their large size and are primarily used for felling and bucking (cutting felled trees into logs) more giant trees in forestry and logging operations. 

  • Size: Two-person crosscut saws are considerably longer than one-person saws, typically ranging from 4 to 7 feet (approximately 1.2 to 2.1 meters) in blade length. The longer blade allows for greater cutting capacity and efficiency when tackling large logs.
  • Teeth Design: The teeth of two-person crosscut saws are specifically designed for efficient cutting and are typically filed with a pattern that optimizes cutting performance. The tooth design may vary, but common patterns include lance teeth (for faster cutting) and champion teeth (for smoother cuts).
  • Tooth Set: Like one-person saws, two-person crosscut saws often have teeth set alternately outward to create a wider kerf, reducing the risk of binding and making it easier to cut through large logs.
  • Handles: Two-person crosscut saws have two sets of handles, one at each end, allowing two individuals to stand on opposite sides of the log and work together to cut it. The handles are typically wood and designed for a comfortable grip.
  • Maintenance: Proper maintenance is essential for these saws. Regularly sharpening the teeth, ensuring they are correctly set, and keeping the blade lubricated are essential to maintain cutting efficiency.
  • Safety: Using a two-person crosscut saw requires teamwork and coordination. Safety is paramount when working with these saws. Both operators should be in communication and have a clear understanding of the cutting process to avoid accidents.
  • Applications: Two-person crosscut saws are mainly used for felling large trees and bucking them into logs. They are precious in remote or rugged terrain where access to power equipment is limited.
  • Historical Significance: These saws have historical significance and were commonly used in the forestry and logging industry before the widespread adoption of chainsaws. They are still used today in traditional and historical reenactments.
  • Efficiency: When operated by skilled individuals, two-person crosscut saws can be highly efficient, making precise cuts with minimal waste. However, it does require coordination and strength from both operators.
  • Transportation: Transporting two-person crosscut saws can be challenging due to their size. They are often carried in protective cases or sheaths when not in use.

Cleaning Your Crosscut Saws

Cleaning and maintaining your crosscut saw is essential to ensure its longevity and cutting efficiency. Proper cleaning helps prevent rust, removes debris from the teeth, and keeps the saw in good working condition. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your crosscut saw:

Tools and Materials:

  • 1. Crosscut saw
  • 2. Wire brush
  • 3. Soft bristle brush or toothbrush
  • 4. Mild dish soap or saw cleaner
  • 5. Clean rags or paper towels
  • 6. Water
  • 7. Lubricating oil or saw oil
  • 8. Fine sandpaper (if rust is present)
  • 9. Saw vise or clamps (optional)


  • Safety Precautions: Ensure you work in a safe and well-ventilated area. 
  • Secure the Saw (Optional): If you have a saw vise or clamps, securing the saw before cleaning is a good idea to make the process easier and safer.
  • Remove Loose Debris: Use a wire brush to remove loose debris, sawdust, or dirt from the blade and teeth. Brush in the direction of the teeth to avoid damaging them.
  • Prepare Cleaning Solution: Mix the solution gently.
  • Soak the Saw: Submerge the blade of the crosscut saw in the soapy water. Let it soak for several minutes to soften any stubborn dirt or sap.
  • Scrub the Blade: Use a soft bristle or toothbrush to scrub the blade, focusing on areas with sap or stubborn residue. Gently scrub the teeth to remove debris stuck between them. 
  • Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse the saw thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap and debris. Ensure that the water runs clear.
  • Inspect for Rust: Check the blade for any signs of rust. If you find rust spots, you can gently sand them away using fine sandpaper. Be careful not to remove too much metal while doing this.
  • Dry the Saw: Use dry rags or paper towels to dry the blade thoroughly. Ensure no moisture is left on the surface to prevent rust formation.
  • Lubricate the Blade: Apply a thin coat of lubricating or saw oil to the blade. This helps prevent rust and reduces friction during cutting. Make sure to cover the entire blade evenly.
  • Store Properly: Store your crosscut saw in a dry, cool place, preferably hanging vertically, to prevent the blade from contacting surfaces that could cause damage or rust.
  • Regular Maintenance: Periodically inspect your saw for any signs of wear, damage, or rust. Clean and lubricate it as needed to maintain its performance.

Tools and Materials

  • 1.     Safety gear: Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect your eyes and hands.
  • 2.     Pitch-removing solvent: Options include commercial pitch and resin removers or household items like rubbing alcohol, acetone, or mineral spirits.
  • 3.     Scraper or putty knife: A flat-edged tool will help gently lift and scrape away pitch.
  • 4.     Soft cloth or rag: For wiping away residue.
  • 5.     Toothbrush or small brush: Helpful for scrubbing small areas and crevices.
  • 6.     Warm, soapy water: Clean the tool after pitch removal.
  • 7.     Lubricating oil: To protect the tool from rusting after cleaning.


  • 1.     Safety First: Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect your eyes and hands.
  • 2.     Remove Excess Pitch: Be careful not to damage the blade teeth.
  • 3.     Apply Pitch-Removing Solvent: Apply your chosen pitch-removing solvent to the pitch deposits. You can place a cloth or sponge soaked in the solvent on the affected area. Allow the solvent to sit for a few minutes to soften the pitch.
  • 4.     Scrub the Deposits: Gently scrub the softened pitch with a toothbrush or small brush. Work in a circular motion or along the grain of the wood, depending on the tool or surface you’re cleaning. Continue to scrub until the pitch starts to dissolve and loosen.
  • 5.     Repeat If Necessary: If the pitch is stubborn, you may need to repeat the process a few times until it is entirely removed. Be patient and avoid using excessive force, which can damage the tool or surface.
  • 7.     Clean the Tool: If you’re cleaning a tool, wash it with warm, soapy water to remove residual solvent and pitch. Dry the tool thoroughly to prevent rusting.
  • 8.     Apply Lubricating Oil (for metal tools): To protect metal tools from rust, apply a thin coat of lubricating oil to the cleaned surface. This helps prevent moisture from causing rust.
  • 9.     Dispose of Solvent Safely: Properly dispose of any pitch-removing solvent following local regulations or guidelines.


Maintaining and cleaning your tools, such as crosscut saws, is crucial for their performance, longevity, and safety. Regular cleaning, safety precautions, proper storage, and maintenance routines are essential practices to ensure that your tools remain in top condition and continue to serve you effectively in your woodworking and cutting tasks.