Your grandfather or great-grandfather probably had a handsaw in his workshop, and you should, too. You never know when you may need to shorten a plank, build a sawhorse or fell a wind-damaged tree branch.
There are two types of general-use handsaws, and it's a good idea to have both on hand. A crosscut saw has backward-angled teeth and is used to cut against the wood grain, while a ripsaw has downward-facing teeth that flex left and right during action, and is used to cut parallel to the grain. On both types, look for evenly set, sharp teeth set into a blade that's arrow-straight and tapered at the end.
There's one other important factor to consider, too. Unlike a power tool you can easily buy over the Internet, selecting a handsaw is a more personal matter. When done right, you'll be adding an heirloom to your workshop, one that feels balanced and comfortable in your hand. Shop around and saw the air with a few different models. You'll know when you find the one that fits [source: McKay].