Tips for sawing wood

Sawing panels for flight cases is often said to be one of the most tricky or difficult things to do. It’s true, manual sawing demands more energy than doing it or having it done mechanically, but if you’re only going to be making a few cases, and you have a good hand saw for wood, you really don’t need to buy an electric saw, especially for these projects. With a little bit of cleverness, you’ll definitely be alright with a hand saw.

It’s important though that you work very exact. That’s usually what goes wrong. It’s very important that the line you’re going to saw along is straight and the angles are right angles. Otherwise the end result - your flight case - will also be crooked. Furthermore, the more exact your sawing is, the better all the flight case parts will fit onto your case: the aluminium case angles will fit much more snugly if your case is straight, your ball corners will fit better, etcetera.

Below are a few tips, general ones for sawing panels, and more specific ones for sawing wood for your flight case.

-   Use a pointy carpenter’s pencil to draw the line you’re going to saw. A thin line is necessary for you to be able to work exact.

-   Before drawing the line, make sure the angle is straight. Use a steel square for this, preferably one with long arms. Proceed as follows: before you start sawing, check with your steel square if the panel you’re sawing from has straight angles. Lots of people namely assume the big standard-sized panel they’ve bought in the shop will have straight angles, but that’s certainly not always the case. If the corners are not a perfect 90°, it’s best to make them that way first. Use your steel square and a long guide (I mean a long straight piece of wood or aluminium) to draw your straight angle from the long side of the panel. Saw the excess wood off. This will give you at least one straight angle to start sawing your first panel from. Draw the lines for your panels on the wood, if necessary with the steel square and the guide.

-   It’s not always easy to draw these lines with a pencil if you’re working with laminated flight case wood, certainly not if it happens to be black or grey. In that case you can turn the wood upside down (with the laminated side on the bottom) so you can draw your lines on the bare plywood side. Though this way will increase the chance of small pieces of laminate chipping off your sawing line, you have to do some really bad damage to the laminate for it not to be covered up later by the case angles or lid locations. None of the lines will be visible, once you’ve put all the parts on your flight case.

-   Normally you won’t be sawing exactly on the pencilled line, but right next to it. For two reasons: one, you can saw more exact right next to the line, because you can see it and you’ll saw straighter because of that. Two, it’s also a way of taking the thickness of your blade into account. If you’re sawing right on the line, your panels will usually turn out to be just a bit smaller (e.g. 1 mm) than what you had measured out on your big panel, because the blade on the saw also has its own thickness. Of course this depends on the blade, but sawing right next to the line is often a good trick to account for this issue.

-   Saw with one hand and keep your other one at a safe distance from the line. It’s best to use your free hand to keep hold of the panel.

-   Don’t make the angle between the saw and the panel too big. 35° is ideal. A bigger angle will increase the chance of sawing crooked.

-   It’s best to blow the sawdust away from time to time while you’re sawing. Otherwise you won’t be able to see the line very well and you’ll start sawing crooked.