DIY Toolbox: Cutting Tools

The most basic of cutting tools are still the essentials for any kit. But they've been improved over the years to work better and safer.

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    Almost eclipsed by a plethora of power saws, the humble handsaw still has many advantages: It's inexpensive, lightweight, compact, quiet, relatively safe, and can trim wood in close quarters and without being tethered to a power cord. Redesigned, hardened, razor-sharp teeth help this handsaw cut much faster than older step-tooth saws.

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    A hacksaw cuts metal, plastic, and other materials. The tensioned blade is replaceable and available with fine teeth for smooth cuts in hard materials and coarser teeth for faster cuts in softer materials. This model accepts a range of blade lengths and configures as a traditional hacksaw, a low-profile hacksaw for close-quarters work, and a jab saw for making cuts in drywall.

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    Backsaw and Miter Box

    For precision work, such as cutting wood and some plastics precisely square or at accurate 45-degree angles, choose a backsaw and miter box. Essential for cutting moldings and picture frames to ensure tight corner joints, a miter box is an inexpensive alternative to a cabinetmaker's power cutoff saw. This one has cam-shape pegs that fit in holes in the miter box's base and secure the material you're cutting with a twist of each peg, increasing accuracy.

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    Utility Knife

    With its pointed, razor-honed, replaceable blades, a utility knife is designed to cut almost anything: cardboard, pasteboard, poster board, insulation, foam board, packaging and duct tape, crafts materials, plastic sheeting, vinyl floor tiles, and more. The blade on this model slides out just far enough to cut the thickness of the material you're working with, improving safety. A slit in the knife's cutting end allows you to cut very thin materials with the blade fully retracted.

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