Hand Saw Series - Flush Trim Saws
posted on January 13, 2011 by Ralph Bagnall

flush cut hand sawEven if you do not generally keep and use handsaws in your shop, a quality flush trim saw should be found in your toolbox. There are many occasions when a wood pin, plug or dowel will need to be trimmed, and these saws can cut them clean and close before you can even dig out a power tool.

Trim saws feature very thin flexible blades compared to other saws, and the teeth have no ‘set’. Typical saw teeth are ‘set’ or bent slightly to each side to provide a little clearance in the kerf to keep the blade from binding. If you try to use a normal saw to flush trim, the set of the teeth will tend to scratch the surface surrounding the cut. The flat teeth of a trim saw are designed to minimize this risk.

flush cut saw teeth trimming a screw plug

The blades of trim saws are not only flexible, but actually designed and treated to work while flexed. This feature allows for trimming even deep in the center of a panel without the handle and your fingers getting in the way. The blade can cut on the flat while the handle is flexed at a workable angle.

While a sharp chisel can be used to flush trim in the same fashion, there is a risk that the plug/pin can break along the grain line, and if that line extends below the surface, that will need to be fixed. With the saw, a cut can be taken from each side, cutting toward the center, eliminating this risk.

While these saws can cut very cleanly, on highly visible surfaces, like trimming accent wedges on a table top, I like to lay a piece of tape around the cut before starting to insure against scratches. This is also highly recommended when trimming against a finished surface, as you might need to when repairing a chair joint.

wood plug cut flush to surface selection of three flush cut saws

Flush trim saws are available in whatever saw style you prefer: The traditional Western version by Crown (right top) a Japanese style, (bottom) and even a modern version by Fastcap (center) that has folding handles that cover and protect the blade when stored in a toolbox. Even if you tend to resist handsaws, think of these as ‘cordless’ trimmers. You’ll be surprised how often yours gets used.

posted on January 13, 2011 by Ralph Bagnall
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2 thoughts on “Hand Saw Series - Flush Trim Saws”

  • Woodworkweb

    These little saws are great. I have a few in my tool box, but you really need to be careful with them as they can buckle easy from too much force or from over bending them when cutting. Slow and steady works best with these saws.

  • Olly Parry-Jones

    I totally agree with the first comment. Nearly three-years ago, I bought (in the UK) a very similar saw and it took less than two-weeks before I'd buckled it - never have been able to straighten it properly (is there a way?) and, of course, it's next to no use for flush-trimming, now...

    Rather than buy a new one, I tend to use a fine gents or dovetail saw to cut it back close to flush but finish trimming with a small block plane.

    You can also buy saws like this with disposable blades - but then, the cost of a spare blade is almost equal to the cost of a new saw! Plus, the teeth don't seem to hold an edge for as long as some of the saws with wooden handles.

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