Having recently received a few questions concerning backsaws, I’ve decided to open up the archives and give you an article Christopher Schwarz, contributing editor, wrote for the Spring 2008 issue of Woodworking Magazine: “Understanding Western Backsaws.” Therein, he explains the size, tooth configurations and raison d’etre of four saws: the dovetail saw; the carcase saw; the tenon saw; and the sash saw. Plus, you’ll find Chris’s thoughts on halfback saws.
Also below, you’ll find a PDF of Charles Holtzapffel’s chart with the specs of various saws – including some now-obscure tools (anyone have a “Comb cutter’s saw?” I’d love to see it!). The chart, titled “Table of the Dimensions of Rectilinear Saws,” is from his 1846 book “Construction, Action and Application of Cutting Tools.”
Need more on saws and sawing? Get Christopher Schwarz’s “Sawing Fundamentals,” a set of two DVDs he recorded for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, or his “Build a Sawbench” DVD (Popular Woodworking Books) – build one of these, and you’ll not only get a crash course in sawing, but you’ll have a traditional sawing surface when you’re done (and I have it on good authority that a sawbench also serves well as a cat perch).