Most shops today are putting all their purchasing efforts into large saws, CNC machinery, line polishers, etc. Many fabricators are also frustrated because their small grinders and polishers don't seem to be as efficient.
The smaller hand tools you have in your shop can be used more efficiently, and you will be surprised how much work can be accomplished with the proper choice and use of these small tools. The following is a list of hand tools that can be essential to the success of a shop and some tips and tricks for making these tools more efficient.
Portable Hand Saws
There are many varieties of these saws ranging from the small saw that uses a 4- to 5-in. blade up to the 8- or 10-in. saws that run a rail. Many shops purchase these rail saws as their first saw, but even shops with large bridge saws will need a small hand saw for some tasks.
The small hand saws are used for cutting, rodding and cutting round and oval sinks. I have seen lots of time wasted changing blades from a straight blade to a contour blade, etc. Oftentimes the wrench or blade can't be found and there is loss of efficiency when this happens.
Here is a tip that will save you hours a week: Instead of spending time changing blades, buy three small saws and equip each one with its own blade. These saws are very inexpensive (around $100), and the time you save in changing blades alone will pay for having multiple saws in labor savings. I would suggest setting one up with a standard blade for cutting, one with a rodding blade for rodding and another with a contour blade for sink cutouts.
It is important when using these small saws that you don't overwork them. When cutting sinks or using the straight blade, you want to step cut instead of plunge cut. There are some exceptions, but your saw will last much longer if you don't force it and plunge cut.
Alpha Professional Tools, Makita and several other companies produce these small saws.
There are several types of rail saws also and they all have advantages and disadvantages. Some are self-propelled and others have to be pushed by hand. Some of these saws can step cut and others can plunge cut.
I have found with any rail saw that using a good blade is important. I have tried many different types and brands of these saws and as long as I am using a top-quality blade, they run efficiently.