A general-purpose handsaw is one of the first tools in most toolboxes. The saw can handle cutting across the grain (cross-cutting) and along the grain (rip cutting). They’re around 500mm long but you can buy smaller saws that do the same job but fit into a toolbox for easy storage. The handles on most saws are moulded at 90 and 45 degree angles to the blade so you can use them as a square for quick marking of angled crosscuts.
A tenon saw is a short fine-toothed saw use for fine cutting and making joins in timber. The square end and stiffened rib along the blade keep it rigid for accurate cutting.
The D-shaped frame and flexible narrow blade, allow you to cut tight curves through timber. It is used for fine detail work and cutting one side of a scribed join where skirting boards meet at an internal corner.
A dovetail saw is used for creating fine joints – like the dovetail after which it is named! It has a thinner blade than a tenon saw and more teeth for a finer cut.
Hand planes are used to smooth timber prior to the finer finish of sanding. The fine-tuning and sharp blade allows you to take thin shavings off timber with much more accuracy than a power plane. A bench plane is used for initial smoothing of rough timber and should be followed with a smoothing plane.
Chisels are used for scoring and removing timber for rebates and smoothing in tight areas where a plane is impractical. They are struck with a mallet when removing timber and by hand for smoothing. Common uses for the DIYer are smoothing notches in posts and creating rebates in doors for hinges and handles.
Japanese handsaws are fine-toothed saws that cut on the pull stroke not the push like conventional saws. It also has a thinner blade so is perfect for situations when you don’t want a wide cut through the timber.