The familiar modern handsaw, with its thin but wide steel blade, cuts on the push stroke; this permits downhand sawing on wood laid across the knee or on a stool, and the sawing pressure helps to hold the wood still.
Operator control is superior, and, because the line being sawed is not obscured by the fuzz of undetached wood fibres or sawdust, greater accuracy is possible. Some tree-pruning saws have teeth raked to cut on the pull stroke to draw the branch toward the operator. Blades that are thin and narrow, as in the coping saw, are pulled through the workpiece by a frame holding the blade.
Electric reciprocating and sabre saws, which have narrow blades that are supported at only one end, pull the blade when cutting to prevent buckling. The carpenter’s pull saw for wood requires sitting on the floor and using one’s feet to stabilize the wood while sawing.
The true saw, a blade with teeth, one of the first great innovations of the Metal Age, was a completely new tool, able to cut through wood instead of merely gashing the surface. It developed with smelted copper, from which a blade could be cast. Many of the early copper saws have the general appearance of large meat-carving knives, with bone or wooden handles riveted to a tang at one end.