Best Crosscut Hand Saw For Cutting Wood, Logs, & Firewood
Best crosscut saw. That depends on what you’re using it for!
The hand saw. There are lots of kinds. And there are many purposes which lead to their unique designs.
- Cutting wood, as in general purpose carpentry lumber
- Fine trim, woodworking
- Hand saw for cutting logs
- Hand saw for firewood
- Trimming limbs, pruning
(just to name a few)
The Best Crosscut Saw
A good crosscut saw is a great tool for preparedness. And, for using on any of your do-it-yourself projects. I have a number of them, each designed for their own task.
Be aware — No matter what kind of crosscut saw you use, cutting by hand is ALL WORK. The correct saw will make it easier!
I’m going to recommend several types of hand saw. I will start with cutting logs. Then for cutting smaller limbs. Followed by one of the best for a general purpose carpenter saw.
Crosscut Hand Saw For Cutting Logs
If you’re cutting logs, a properly sharpened crosscut saw is the only way to go! Although this method of cutting logs is going to kick your butt, you would be surprised how well a maintained crosscut saw will cut.
Crosscut Saws basically come in two tooth styles for cutting logs…
Tuttle Tooth (Champion)
This type has two cutting teeth to each raker tooth.
It is most common to use the Tuttle Tooth style for hardwoods.
Perforated Lance Tooth
This hand saw has four cutting teeth to each raker tooth.
It’s common to use the Perforated Lance Tooth style for cutting softwoods.
However, many people have used each interchangeably throughout history.
One Man Crosscut Saw – 3 feet
This large saw is used mostly in forestry work, and the crosscutting of large logs. But in recent years it has been purchased by people aiming to cut their own firewood in a more traditional fashion.
It also comes with an auxiliary handle for use as a two-man version if required.
“If you use a saw like this it will be a lot of work. There is no avoiding it. However, it does the job. The saw creates a nice kerf so it doesn’t bind deep in the wood. Have used it for logs greater than 12”.
“I currently use a Stanley 21-106 8-Inch Mill Bastard File to sharpen the points. The single cut pattern minimizes material taken off.”~ Reviewer
TIP: Use “goo gone” as a lubricant, and to keep sap/gum out of the teeth.
Lynx 3′ One Man
Two Man Crosscut Saw – 4 feet
This large saw is used mostly in forestry work and the crosscutting of large logs.
“We love it! Beautiful Sheffield steel, sharp as anything and easy enough to use when you get the rhythm right.”
“It had no problem cutting through pine tree logs up to 15 inches thick.”
Razor Tooth Hand Saw
I have this one. It’s ‘wicked sharp’. A 21 inch Raker Saw that I purchased a number of years ago. It has been great for general purpose around the property! Cutting limbs and such. Its curved design is great for this.
“I will always stick with Corona hand saws, great product. This 21″ blade can tackle anything from small branches all the way up to medium size tree trunks with ease. If I ever have to replace it, I will definitely buy this saw again.”
This is their latest model of that saw:
Corona 21-inch Razor Tooth Raker Saw
(view on amzn)
Cutting Firewood With A Crosscut Saw
Not only will you need a good felling axe, mauls, and other gear to accommodate felling, bucking, cutting, and eventually splitting your wood – one of the crucial tools (in a time without access to fuel) may be an appropriate crosscut saw to cut the logs into usable lengths.
“The best way to think of firewood is an investment account: Add to it slowly and steadily over a long time to maximize your investment.”
That sounds like good advice, particularly when facing the prospect of cutting firewood or cutting logs by hand!
Many people supplement their home heating with firewood for a wood stove. It’s hard to imagine the very hard labor that would be required if we could no longer obtain fuel for chainsaws and log splitters to cut and split our firewood!
Small stoves (requiring smaller pieces) will work you to the bone.
Wear gloves always while cutting or handling.
Procure or make your own blade protector for safety while not in use.
Cut wood as green as you can get (easier).
Try to get the logs raised to a comfortable height.
Use shims/wedges so the cut doesn’t pinch the saw blade.
You will also want to know how to sharpen the teeth yourself, and have the equipment to do it. You will need a small file (mill Bastard – probably a six inch), a saw set gauge, and a setting hammer.
Download a crosscut saw manual for the USFS (United States Forestry Service),
(manual from the USFS)
Crosscut Saw For Cutting Firewood (Smaller)
Maybe you don’t want something as big. Maybe a smaller hand saw to use while camping – cutting smaller sizes for campfire firewood.
Or maybe just a small saw for around the house, for cutting branches and such.
A good option for this is the typical Bow Saw, like this which I also own.
“This Bahco rocks! I bet I have 3 crappy bow saws in the barn, you know how they work blades go all wonky cant get the cut to start correctly on either draw, cheap handles and poor tensioning systems. Not this Bahco saw, this thing is great!”
Or a Razor Tooth Folding Saw, such as this one, which is available in varying lengths.
It’s designed to cut easily through small to medium sized branches. The professional-style saw folds for safe transportation and easy storage.
Corona Razor Tooth Folding Saw
Crosscut Hand Saw – Best for General Purpose Carpentry
Irwin makes high quality products and tools. Engineering from Germany. They have a wide variety in the crosscut saw market.
The length of this blade is only 15 inches, but enough – just right… It has a pitched nose that tapers off at the end. This, and its blade heft provide stability and rigidity during the cutting process.
A perfect handle with a rubber grip.
IRWIN Hand Saw, Coarse Cut
(view on amzn)
A Hand Pull Saw For Your Carpentry Preparedness Toolkit ]
Share the work and the wood. Get a two-man saw.
A 2 man saw is suitable for logs 18″ in diameter or more. Two guys with two saws will cut a lot more wood then two guys with one two man saw. Think about a buck saw as a realistic option. Best for logs 12″ or less. A buck saw is a lot easier to maneuver if you can put the wood to be cut into a saw horse. Then you can get good leverage on it and not be bent over. What I generally do is cut the logs to 4′ in the field and that makes it easy to load and transport back to the house. Then cut the 4′ sections into 3 16″ sections (perfect for a wood stove or fireplace). I don’t use a buck saw much anymore but as a teen me and my brother would cut a wnters worth of wood every year using a buck saw.
Two man saws come in two main varieties: felling and bucking saws. There are so many different terms out there and so many are regional, but I believe what you are referring to, from my experience using these saws professionally in wilderness areas in Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington, is a “single-buck” saw. For trail building and maintenance, we often use a two man felling saw because it is lighter and easier to pack for hiking those long miles, but for a stay-at-home saw, a two man bucking saw or a single-buck are definitely the way to go.
I tend to agree that two one man saws will be a little faster than a two man saw, but only marginally. I think you’ll get similar cut times — the two man being just slightly faster — but a lot less exertion required for the two man. Over the course of an entire day or two, I think you’d maybe rather have the two man than two one mans. Plus, working with another person is fun and rewarding!
When I was a kid, my father would order 4 cords of wood that would just get dumped in our yard and my sisters and brother and I would have to split and stack it all. I actually enjoyed splitting the wood. I now have all the tools needed to harvest our own wood munually, but splitting the wood will always be my favorite aspect of preparing for the winter.
Chainsaws are very loud and can be heard for miles. In a long term grid down situation the last thing I would want to do is draw attention to myself by using one – announcing to the world that I have gas and cut firewood.
Even an Ax could be too loud in some situations. A crosscut saw would be smart to have for “stealth” benefits alone.
Have you ever seen those pneumatic saws the linesmen use when clearing branches from transmission lines? Those things are pretty awesome, and need only a source of compressed air. There are plenty of 12V compressors which can be found on-line and at auto parts dealers for filling tires. While they do not produce great volume, they can fill a pony tank which would hold enough air to provide for cutting a few branches or logs in to more manageable size. I suppose if one was not in a hurry, you could simply wait for the little pump to refill the pony tank and use it exclusively. It has no need for fuel, and has a relatively small oil reservoir for the bar, so I suppose if you had a few chains and a few quarts of oil, it might be a decent substitute for gasoline saws post SHTF.
I was not aware of Pneumatic chainsaws. I love chainsaws and own a Stihl 066 magnum that cuts through large oaks like they are made of soft butter. The saw draws a lot of attention when I fire it up. I would like to have a one man crosscut saw as a stealth option – even though there will be a lot more sweat involved with each cut.
@Mike. I agree. Things like chainsaws and generators will be a beacon you can hear for over a mile. Maybe if we’re lucky and the treated gas is still good in a year or so, you might be able to use them. Short term you better already be ready.
Very good point. Same goes for cooking with your wood. Make sure the wind isn’t blowing in the direction of any undesirables.
First pulled a cross-cut back in ’65 and still own several as well as the tools for sharpening and setting.
#1 Two people pulling one is much faster than two people pulling two. Cross-cut saws are pulled to cut. Pushing the saw not only binds it, but repeated pushing results in damage requiring straightening.
#2 For resinous woods, you need a solvent such as kerosene to sprinkle on the saw during cutting.
#3 Use an axe to finish the undercut and limbing.
#4 Sealed cans of gasoline last several years. In remote Alaska we buy in bulk and haul in. The gas goes bad by loss of light volatiles, so keep it sealed. Once opened, use it. Stored under cover, conifer firewood lasts many years, even aspen lasts 3-4 years if kept dry.
#5 Bow saws and buck saws are okay for wood up to about 4″ maximum. But sooner or later they bend and start cutting half-moons that bind the blade. A far better choice is a larger pruning saw. I cut a winter’s supply of wood (3 cords) once with a bow saw in Crescent Oregon many decades ago. Never again.
#6 Now at 62YO, I know that I can rent my saws, axes, wedges and mauls out to younger folks in return for firewood delivered once the economy really dumps.
#7 There are more tooth designs than perforated lance and tuttle. There are falling and bucking saws. There are 1-man, 1-man assisted and two-man.
#8 Learn to sharpen and set yourself. The experts are all dead by now. I learned from them, but you don’t become an expert by being taught or reading a book. It takes years of experience doing and hardly anyone owns a cross-cut saw anymore let alone use it. So I get very little practice. I usually use a chainsaw myself.
#9 Some saws require a cant file for sharpening rather than a mill file. And NEVER use a mill bastard unless you are re-cutting the teeth. A second-cut mill file is probably the best choice. One old boy I knew that cut firewood with a cross-cut into the mid-1970’s used a stone to dress up his saw teeth.
#10 Always give your saw a light coat of oil after every use. Rust causes pitting which increases drag. Old rusted saws can often be reclaimed by judicious use of emery cloth and elbow grease.
#11 I was gonna quit at #10, but I figured I’d give you a treat. Old carpenter’s saws can be re-cut to shorty 1-man cross-cuts. You just won’t be able to swage the teeth and therefore you must depend on a good tooth set for kerf. Saw sets for carpentry saws are a lot easier to find than swage blocks and spiders.
Those who can – do.
Thanks for the suggestions. I called the local fellow who sharpens saws for Woodcraft and Hardware stores to ask if he can tackle new unsharpened Lynx 3′ saw. He says he has only sharpened 3 cross cuts and I will be better off sharpening it myself. I mentioned another man who had a shop by 84 lumber and he says yes that was his mentor and all the old timers including that gentleman are either retired or passed on. I watched a few videos and purchased the appropriate 4-10tpi saw set tool, taper files and vice. My great-grandfather was a logger up in Tupper Lake so maybe this will come naturally, lol. Wish me luck.
Best of luck on the endeavor. Mine are sharp, hardly use (use chainsaw 99%) but tis a bit of knowledge I’d like to gain. Maybe these coming years when get some spare time. Where’d you get your sets if you don’t mind?
As DH & I are getting to the antique stage in life we keep 3 yrs supply of wood on hand so when wood cutting becomes more of a stress or gas runs out we will be still have some on hand. He also cuts about 30 cords stove length for sale. Since DH is almost 79 & an ex bucker & scaler he knows a lot about sharpening saws. He even goes back to the days prior to powersaws so as long as our strength holds out we will be warm.
2 years ago when a local 2nd hand store closed down I got 6 hand carpentry saws for $2 each. They were rusty but DH knows how to clean them up. So watch the 2nd hand stores. They have all sorts of “junk” there that they might be willing to let go at a reasonable price especially if you are willing to take more than 1 item off their hands. A lot of artist paint scenes on various saws. Therefore they want them cheap. Whether you are an artist or not you can tell store owners you want cheap saws for your painting hobby & they may keep an eye open for you for cheap ones. Mind you cheap may be “cheap” & not what you had in mind.
Remember practice now when not in life & death mode may make it easier on you if we get to that stage.
Cutting firewood is hard work. What if you only needed sticks/small limbs? We are contemplating installing a rocket stove mass heater. What are the opinions on this?
Do you have a lumber mill nearby? Local ones sell the end pieces as scrap.
I’ve cut 10 large pickup loads this fall. I would sure miss my still! I have two saws like yours, but not as shiny. Took me long time to find the correct files and gauges to correctly file those saws. Oh their a dime a dozen a flea markets, but the teeth are gone. So anybody looking for a 2nd hand saw need to feel the teeth. They need to be all there, none broken, and points like a cats’ claw. Meaning, if it touches you, it scratches!
I used to heat with wood in upstate NY. God bless & protect y’all still up there when the balloon goes up. I’ve used hand saws to harvest wood when camping but to heat a house…. At least the wood will heat you three times.
Grin. You mean once sawing, once carrying, and once burning?
Don’t forget SPLITTING and STACKING!
I think I’ll just move South instead! ;)
We live in Mississippi, and we can burn through some firewood! You’d have to go further south than here- LOL!
For splitting I bought a “Monster Maul” when Sotz was still in business. I’s a heavy steel handled 15-20 pound wedge that split some of the knarliest wood I saw.
I to have a monster maul i purchased about 25 or 30 years ago. Last year i bought a Fiskers. I don’t see a lot of difference in performance but the Fiskers is so much lighter its the winner for me.
I have a 36″ one man crosscut saw that can be a 2 man saw if needed. It has the perforated lance tooth system and I have the sharpening set as well. As long as there is fuel and my saws run I will use my Stihl or Echo chain saw for falling,limbing and bucking.I have an electric splitter as well as splitting mauls , wedges, axes as well as extra handles for all the toys.
We heat mostly with wood and I look at firewood as money in the bank. I try and have a 2-3 year supply on hand in the wood shed.
we have a wood burning furnace…..therefor we cut wood all year long to use for our heating endeavors. When we had a “barrel” burner it took about 9 cords per year. When we installed an actual wood burning furnace it has only taken 3 cords per year. But we still bring in about 5 each year based on dead and fallen.
Chain saws are DH’s fav. Sons help a couple weekends per year….that is always nice for DH. One DD is REALLY good on the BobCat, so she helps often as well. wood does not save well in the drier climes….so about 3 years is the oldest it is good for. Not much of an investment account there…..however, by using wood for our main source of heat, we use less than 250 gals of propane annually. For a household of 2400 square feet, with 3 ovens running often, gas water heaters, gas dryer….well, I feel like that is a pretty good track record. AND, our electric bill averages 110 per month (that includes the heavy fans in the greenhouse all summer long) and multiple computers running in the office 20 hours daily, and HEAT lamps for the hatchery 4 months a year either Sept or March? Am I on the right track? seems reasonable. Maybe not? Would love to hear from others.
3 cords doesnt sound too bad for it feeding a furnace, ive been trying to talk my mom into one of those to heat her house, simple setup, just hest the main areas, she isnt ready, sounds too expensive to her but still cheaper than having the HVAC guys put in a full on propane forced air system.
Ive actually thought about trying to adapt a pellet furnace to run on woodchips, but storage and drying is an issue, the pellets are costly over here, even if i buy a pallet full and get it shipped, i might as well burn alfalfa pellets, almost the same cost,,,
I have an electric pole saw with about a 9 inch blade. It is suppose to draw 7 amps, I’ll bet I could do some fair amount of cutting using my 15 amp 110v power supply in me Jeep. Maybe a solar storage system would do well, its a very quiet pole saw.
I know it wouldn’t be too great for logs, but would surely say my back!!!
The pit saw setup was used extensively in the early Koa logging that went on here in the islands, they used that setup to saw planks or slabs off large logs, easier to cut vertical than horizontal with a long whip or a single man, they also did this as transporting boards was easier than logs, the logging areas were rough country. Most of the early sawyers over here were Portugese
My go to saws
Husky 395xp 42” and my small saw a husky 372xp 32”, limber for climbing is a little Echo or a couple Shindaiwas, one a 22 the other a 26
Years ago in The Mother Earth News there were ads for a log splitter that bolted onto the drive wheel of your jacked-up vehicle. It was a cone-shaped screw that you would stab a log into and it would split it as it screwed into it. And then it disappeared from the marketplace overnight, presumably from accident injury lawsuits.
I am a USFS certified “C” sawyer and trail maintainer in the North GA Wilderness Areas and use a crosscut, wedges and axe a couple of times a month clearing trails as well as instructing sawyer classes for the USFS.
Crosscut saws are very rewarding if they are sharp and the sawyers know how to use them, can read binds and know how to wedge. I prefer a crosscut over a chain saw on long day trips (6-8 mile) since I don’t have to wear chaps, carry gas/oil/spare chain etc, the saw always starts and you can listen to the wood “talking to you”. I’ve never seen a crosscut saw not start but I have seen a bunch run out of gas.
As stated above owing a crosscut saw requires you learn to file, set and sharpen the saw which is best done on a saw vise, takes a lot of practice (start out on an old worn saw) and patience.
Heres the guys i like buying saws from
crosscutsaw dot com
American made, they have all the files and tooth set tools too and some other good stuff.
Agree 100% on packing a hand saw over a chainsaw,
I think a pack like the Eberlestock J1 or something similar with the scabbard would be good for safely carrying a 36″ crosscut, can cut some serious timber with that and a decent axe and still be able to carry food and water, extra clothes etc.
Thanks for the website. Another goid place for crosscut saws, tools etc. is
Cool beans, great site,
The Crosscut Saw Company is where your dreams go to die. Their line of Jemco saws are flat plates of soft steel and will arrive unjointed and dull. Their saw filing tools are inferior to what you can get on eBay for half the price. I say this as a saw filer who occasionally has these saws come into my shop to be put right. Jemcos can be made to cut but will perform miserably out of the box. On the other hand, The Axe Hole has a deep bench of reasonably priced quality saws. I’ve had people bring me Axe Hole saws to file and have never seen a bad one.
Interesting, thanks for that info
Thanks for your input on this.
Well said RC. I’ve filed a lot of saws for Georgia trail crews and follow your adventures on the Trail Maintainers FB site. You forgot to mention how the saw sings to you as it’s drawn through the kerf.
– Many years ago in the Boy Scouts,our troop wold take a 4′ crosscut saw (Tuttle Pattern, I have now learned,) camping with us in the back of the old fifties school bus we used for transportation and storage. I learned how to use that thing as well as later on learning to set teeth and sharpen the thing from one of our assistant Scoutmasters. We were not allowed to use power equipment in those days, so I had to either use an axe, hatchet, my bow saw or that “big saw”. We cut a lot of firewood with that stuff; mostly Mesquite or Chinese Elm from trees seeding and the seed blowing into ranch lands from developers in the 50’s who planted it in new subdivisions in West Texas cities and towns. The crosscut was mostly because we already had it and it was thought we needed to learn how to use and care for it.
I worked as a tree climber in my younger days, but never did much with hand saws. One place I worked had an old chain saw with a 48″ bar, it was like trying to cut wood while holding a motorcycle.
When i worked at the college library i found an old history book about early logging in the western states. There was a pic of some sawyers working in a virgin forest in New Mexico who had cut a wedge in a Western Red Cedar prior to felling it. The old trees were so big the sawyers were standing up inside the wedge! Imagine working with handsaws in those days…
I have a two man crosscut hanging in my house for ‘decoration’ and maybe one more back at the farm along with a single. All came from my mom’s farm many, many years ago.
I had an 8’ long misery whip hanging in my livingroom, i left it there when i moved,
If i need to be using a hand saw to cut wood so ican cook, i think ill take the emergency exit, honestly, if we are there, i doubt ill have time to worry about cutting anything with one of those
What’s that saying?
Ye of little faith……
Just saying, uncle.
We will come through this…. Come what may…..and we’ll just give em hell, for all we’re worth.
Although they cannot be sharpened the large pullsaws from Silky such as the Katanaboy 500 cut very fast, fold small, weigh very little, and take a long time to go dull
Actually, the Japanese saws can be sharpened with feather files, amazon has em, Highland woodworking has em too or you can google them, smaller files for smaller blades, the Silky saws are actually among the easiest to sharpen because the teeth are so long