Even 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.
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.
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.