You probably won’t need a pull saw every day, but it’s a great tool to have when the need arises. Unlike Western-style saws, which cut on the push stroke, Japanesestyle saws cut on the pull. Pulling on the blade takes advantage of steel’s higher tensile strength compared to its compressive strength. As a result, the extrathin blade on a Japanese saw cuts straighter and with greater accuracy than the blade on a Western saw.
You’ll find pull saws useful for cutting casing and base trim in place and for cutting small moldings. In short, they are great tools for using any time you need to make a precise, easily guided cut.
Japanese saws are available in a number of different styles. Perhaps the most useful for carpenters is the Ryoba. This type of saw has two sets of teeth: one set for crosscuts and one for rips. You can tell the difference between the two sets by looking at how light reflects along the teeth. If the light reflects the same on every tooth, it’s a rip blade. The teeth are usually bigger, too, but not always. If you see a bright reflection on every other tooth, it’s a crosscut blade. It used to be that Japanese-style saws were rare (and expensive), but now you can find them in just about every hardware store and home center.