The cutting edge of each tooth has a flat front edge and it is not angled forward or backward. This design allows each tooth to act like a chisel (rather than being knife-like, as with a crosscut saw), preventing the saw from following grain lines, which could curve the path of the saw. By acting like a chisel, the saw can more easily cut across deviating grain lines, which is necessary if a straight cut is to be achieved. This feature enables the orthogonal cutting edge to efficiently transport wood-chips from the kerf, allowing subsequent teeth to perform a more effective cut. It is possible to see this material removal mechanism in action by analyzing frame by frame footage of the cutting process. Rip saws typically have 4-10 teeth per inch, making them relatively coarse.
All sawmills use rip saws of various types including the circular saw and band saw. Historically sawmills used one or more reciprocating saws more specifically known as an "up-and-down" or "upright saw" which are of two basic types, the frame saw or a muley (mulay) saw which is similar to the hand powered pit saw. Some sawmills also use crosscut saws to cut boards and planks to length.
On the vast majority of saws throughout the world, the teeth are designed to cut when the saw is being pushed through the wood (on the push stroke or down stroke). However, some saws (such as Japanese saws and the saws used by Ancient Egyptians) are designed to cut on the pull stroke.
- The Saw in History: A Comprehensive Description of the Development of this most useful of tools from the earliest times down to the present day. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Henry Disston & Sons. 1922
- Naylor, Andrew (May 2014). "Evaluating the Cutting Mechanics of Woodworking Hand-Saw Teeth" (PDF). IJMMM 2 (2).
- New international encyclopedia, 2nd ed. Volume 20. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co. 1916. 601.
- Naylor, Andrew. Evaluating the Cutting Mechanics of Woodworking Hand-Saw Teeth. IJMMM, May 2014