Manual One-Man Crosscut Saw

When looking at my long term resiliency and my ability to gather firewood and provide fuel for heating / cooking, I look for simple, quality tools like this cross-cut lumber saw.  It will last for multiple generations if properly taken care of and will provide me with an effective tool to cut trees into manageable chunks. 

As the old adage goes, “Wood heats you three times — when you cut it, split and burn it.”

I am also considering a two person crosscut saw to help with larger trees and get a little help to make quick work of firework gathering projects.


One-Man Crosscut Saw on Amazon

Two-Man Crosscut Saw on Amazon

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Jason, have you used the saw? Please share your personal experience! There are some mixed reviews on Amazon.

Brak - I have not purchased one yet but it is on my amazon wish list as next in line for my preps.  2 additional rain barrels are first in line and then these saws. From what I read on the one-man saw there was only one negative (1 star) review and the rest were pretty much positive. 
So as soon as I get mine in hand and use it a bit, I will report back on my thoughts. 
Let us know if you come across another style saw or option that could work better.  I am just looking for and recommending folks have an alternative option to a chainsaw. 

I do have a one man crosscut saw.  It's not quite like the type in the Amazon link.  I forget where I got it, Lehman's I think, though it did cost a fair amount more as I recall.  The main difference with mine that I can see is the tooth pattern.  This wikipedia entry has some info on that.
The one at Amazon looks similar to The Great American Tooth pattern while mine is a perforated lance tooth.  I'm not familiar with the other tooth pattern.  I have to wonder if it would work as well.  Most crosscut saw tooth patterns work with paired sets of teeth which are set to score the wood in two lines often with a kerf set just slightly wider than the width of the blade to help prevent binding as the saw works deeper into the wood.  Following up these teeth are what are called rakers.  When properly sharpened and set to the right depth in relation to the teeth these rakers function rather like mini chisels cutting away the narrow strip of wood between the two scored lines the teeth made.  Open sections in the saw called gullets can then store these shaved away mini strips of wood until the blade runs free from the wood letting the shaving fall away.  It's all rather fascinating in it's simplicity of engineering for effective results.  From what I've read the key to having a good working crosscut saw is having the teeth properly sharpened and set right.  There's info out on the web about how to do this.

I don't know if the Amazon saw would work as good because it doesn't look like it has the rakers, but pretty much all of the reviews are positive, and the one poor review sounds fishy to me.  Maybe that guy just got a saw that wasn't sharpened.  That listing says the saw comes sharpened.  I should note that not all crosscut saws do come sharpened.  Mine didn't and that first sharpening took a fair amount of time.

I have several older crosscut saws including a two man saw that I have bought at a fleamarket for much less money.  However, if you want to go this route I would first study how to sharpen a saw so you will better know what you are looking at.  Many that I see really are just junk in terms of being restored to working tools.

I haven't used my saw all that much I'm afraid, but it does work rather nice.  There's a certain amount of fun to it watching it shave out neat curls of wood with quiet efficiency.  It is work though, no doubt about that.  If I used mine more I would be in much better shape!  One tip that I've read and have found to be true is that they do work better if you can lubricate the blade some.  I first read about using kerosene, which worked well.  The last time I used mine I used WD40 which is much less toxic and it worked well too.  I don't think you'd need lubrication if you're cutting smaller logs.  I was sawing through logs about 16 to 18 inches in diameter where the saw really gets burried in the wood while working.

One final thing, I've also found it quite handy to have a bow saw.  Here's a wikipedia entry about these.

I have both the modern version (which I found worked MUCH better when I sharpened the teeth more like my crosscut saw and set a wider kerf) and the traditional version which I find often at the fleamarket too.  These are very nice for cutting smaller logs and branches where the crosscut saw become too large and unwieldy to work with.

I fought forest fires during the summer while in college. We carried a couple of 2-person saws "misery whips" in the transport. We only used them in Wilderness areas. There were 20 people on the crew. We'd split into 9 teams with at least 1 experienced person per team. The crew boss and his lead person would decide where the line was to be cut and we'd start cutting trees. After the tree fell, the next team would grab the saw and get the next tree. The team that just cut the tree would move to the back of the line and work on clearing the line to mineral soil.
I was never as sore or tired fighting fires than when we used these misery whips. Are they a good idea for an emergency? You bet. I'd investigate other options before I'd use it. Remember that anything you cut will have to be transported to your wood shed. If you don't have trees within a short distance, this could add considerably to your efforts. Wheel barrows and a path are wonderful! 

Trees always drop branches. These are usually smaller diameter that don't require splitting. Saw to length (or break on a big sharp rock) and you're done. Look at what trees are available to you and decide which ones give you the most heat for the least amount of effort. For instance, oak provides a lot of BTUs, but it is heavy and fibrous. Splitting a knotty piece with a maul isn't the funnest job. Some woods split easier when wet while others split easier when dry.

It all depends on what is available in your immediate area. Don't forget to be creative in your situational analysis. Third world countries use animal manure. It can be picked up when dry and stored quite easily. I wouldn't use it for barbecuing, but I would use it to heat a pressure cooker.

I'm in the process of cutting, splitting, and stacking 5 cords of oak. I'd pay at least $100 per gallon for gasoline to run my chain saw. Does anyone know of a chain saw that runs on ethanol? If so (and the noise isn't an attractant to nefarious sorts,) that would be the option I'd prefer. Make some brew, distill it, and run the saw.