PDA

View Full Version : Push or pull handsaw?



Matt Woodworth
08-16-2003, 12:01 AM
Friends,

I'm going to be cutting some tenons tomorrow and I'm thinking about getting my first handsaw. This is probably the handsaw that I'll be using to make many future joints with as I devolve my way towards more hand equipment.

I'm leaning towards the Dozuki (option B in this picture)

http://shop.woodcraft.com/Woodcraft/assets/product_images/12f27.jpg

I'm also considering the expensive Lie-Neilsen handsaws. At $140 I suppose I could survive (it lasts forever right?) but I see they have a dovetail saw and a carcass backsaw. $280 seems like a lot of money when compared to a "do it all" Dozuki.

Good tools are expensive. They are even more expensive if you buy the wrong tool first. What would you do? Is the $40 Dozuki as good as some people say it is? Does it compete with the Lie-Neilsens? Will I regret getting the Dozuki as a $40 "I never use this anymore" saw if I step up to the Lie-Neilson?

Thanks in advance.

Dave Anderson NH
08-16-2003, 7:32 AM
hi Matt-

You'll notice that your name is now changed to the correct one, sorry about my proofread error.

Personally I use only western style saws. I'm more comfortable with them and I think they are less delicate and prone to breakage from short lapses in careful use. That said, many use Japanese style tools with great success. If you do decide to go western, a better buy than the L-N saws are the ones from Eddie Sirotech. They are slightly less expensive (though not much) and they are all sharpened by Tom Law, the guru of sharpening by hand. The handles are also slightly better shaped . I own the L-N carcass and the dovetail saws and they are quite nice, but if I had to do it over, I'd buy Eddie's.

Another route is to get some used saws from a reliable antique tool dealer and clean them up and resharpen them. I have 2 14" tenon saws I bought used a couple of years ago and refurbished. It's not a difficult task and I spent $60 for the 2 saws and another $40 to have them jointed, reset and sharpened to slightly different tooth patterns. This gave me 2 very nice saws for $40 less than one L-N tenon saw and while not as pretty, they work just as well.

I'll leave the discussion of Japanese saws to someone who knows something about them.

Paul Barnard
08-16-2003, 9:15 AM
Friends,

Good tools are expensive. They are even more expensive if you buy the wrong tool first. What would you do? Is the $40 Dozuki as good as some people say it is? Does it compete with the Lie-Neilsens? Will I regret getting the Dozuki as a $40 "I never use this anymore" saw if I step up to the Lie-Neilson?

Thanks in advance.
Matt,

I echo Dave's sentiments and use only Western style saws. I'm sure one or more of the pull saw officianadoes with make some recomendations on the suitability of the Dozuki. One thing to bear in mind when you are comparing western and eastern tools is that you compare apples to apples. The LN and Adria are the pretty highest end western saws you can buy today. The Dozuki you show is much closer to the bottom end of the Japanese tool tree. You can spend just as much on both types of tools. Dave's comment about older saws is a great one. With western saws it is posible to pick up excellent quality older saws. By excellent quality I a refering to the materials rather than amount of shine :). These can be cleaned up and sharpened of a very small cost ($25 is about the going rate for a sharpening) and you will have a tool as good as the LN and Adria. For $40 you can get an excellent older saw. That would be my choice over the $40 Dozuki.

Martin Shupe
08-16-2003, 11:22 AM
I have an Adria. I recently took Kelly Mehler's blanket chest class at the Marc Adams school, and cut over 40 dovetails. After I learned to cut to the line (my skill level had to rise to the quality of the saw) I really enjoyed it. One problem I had was that I tried to bear down too hard with the saw while cutting. Kelly said, "you must hold the saw like you have a live bird in your hand, don't let the bird escape, but don't squeeze it to death". In other words, let the saw teeth do the work.

Dave, is Eddie the guy that makes the Adria? I bought it a while back, and forget who makes it.

Dave Anderson NH
08-16-2003, 1:13 PM
Eddie Sirotech is the owner of Adria Tools and makes tenon, carcass, and dovetail saws. After he blanks out the blades, he sends them ot tom Law to be toothed and sharpened. His saws are also a slighter harder steel on the Rockwell C scale and last a bit longer between sharpenings.

Matt Woodworth
08-16-2003, 6:05 PM
Friends,

Well, I didn't get any responses from the Japanese saw crowd so now you have me leaning towards the Adria. For the workbench, I resorted to my normal method of making tenons, the bandsaw.

However, I'd like to have a hand saw for my next project. It's going to be a bed and it's going to have a lot of tenons. Do you really need the set of saws for both rip and crosscut? Unless I'm mistaken, the LN is just a "backsaw" and you use it for both cuts.

As for buying an older saw and bringing it back to life, that has some appeal but I'm a little concerned. It's hard to learn a new skill when you don't have confidence in your tools. I know that as I learn to plane I wish I knew that my planes were just fine and that it was just me.

So again, am I supposed to buy both Adria saws or is just one ok? If you pick can one of his three as a "do it all" saw which would you choose?

Paul Barnard
08-16-2003, 9:12 PM
Do you really need the set of saws for both rip and crosscut? Unless I'm mistaken, the LN is just a "backsaw" and you use it for both cuts.

Alas you need both. Well, you can make do with just the crosscut but it will probably put you off handcutting tenons. The teeth are very different for ripping (with the grain) vs. crosscut (across the grain) If you are cutting tenons then cutting the cheeks is a rip cut and the shoulders a crosscut. For dovetails you can happily get by with just a rip cut.

Tom Law the guru of sharpening also sells refurbished saws, and you wouldn't be able to blame those is the cuts don't go right. If you have a second thought at the old saw route then Tom might be a source for a ready to go oldie but goodie.

I have a LN rip dovetail, a LN carcase in crosscut, a Spear and Jackson tennon in crosscut and a Tysacs tennon in rip. Sad to say not using the right one for the job make life a lot more difficult.

Sean Evoy
08-18-2003, 5:00 PM
Hi all. I've been lurking for a while and have really enjoyed the content on this forum. Like most of you, I have discovered that woodworking is more relaxing and enjoyable when I don't have to cope with the dust and noise of power-tools (and the constant worry that I'll slice off a finger if I have a 1 milisecond lapse in concentration). And like you, I can't seem to stop buying tools. Thanks to a very understanding spouse, next week I'm starting a 2-week course at the Rosewood Studio to learn how to sharpen and use the ones I have.

I bought an inexpensive Gent's saw to do the course, and I figure it will serve me nicely until my technique improves. Of course, at some point it's worth investing in the right tools and the Adria dovetail saw seems like a great choice. My question for people who use western-style dovetail saws is, how often do you find you have to sharpen and set them?

Paul Barnard
08-18-2003, 5:33 PM
next week I'm starting a 2-week course at the Rosewood Studio to learn how to sharpen and use the ones I have.

I bought an inexpensive Gent's saw to do the course, and I figure it will serve me nicely until my technique improves. Of course, at some point it's worth investing in the right tools and the Adria dovetail saw seems like a great choice. My question for people who use western-style dovetail saws is, how often do you find you have to sharpen and set them?
You'll love the course at Rosewood. I did one a while back and it was great.

Ted like the very fine tooth gents type saws and he sells them very cheaply at the studio. As to how often to sharpen, it's really when it needs it. After an initial sharpen my dovetail saw hasn't been sharpened since. This is all a little arbitrary as I don't use them on a daily basis.

Sean Evoy
08-18-2003, 5:42 PM
Thanks Paul. That's pretty much what I figured but I wanted to make sure. Sharpening my plane irons and chisels is enough of a challenge right now and it sounds like saw sharpening is another level of complexity altogether.

I'm really looking forward to the course. I only hope I can cut dovetails as well as your daughter by the end of it.

Marc Hills
08-19-2003, 8:51 AM
[QUOTE=Sean Evoy]. . . Sharpening my plane irons and chisels is enough of a challenge right now and it sounds like saw sharpening is another level of complexity altogether.QUOTE]

Hi Sean:

I'd like to encourage you and other beginners to try your hand at saw sharpening. I'm a rank novice as well and was really intimidated by the prospect, but found it to be much easier and successful than I thought.

Resharpening an old dovetail saw in particular is a fairly easy first sharpening project because the required rip tooth pattern involves holding the taper file 90 degrees relative to the saw blade. I don't doubt that an L-N Independence/Adria dovetail saw, or a vintage saw worked on by Tom Law is a whole other world of performance, but the $4.50 and sweat equity I invested in a 10" Disston sure beats the pants off the Stanley hardtooth backsaw I had been using.

I've also had similar success with sharpening two crosscut saws. It's just not as mysterious or complex as I thought. It's part of this mad slide we are all on, might as well give it a whirl!

Jerry Crawford
09-03-2003, 12:00 AM
Friends,

I'm going to be cutting some tenons tomorrow and I'm thinking about getting my first handsaw. This is probably the handsaw that I'll be using to make many future joints with as I devolve my way towards more hand equipment.

I'm leaning towards the Dozuki (option B in this picture)

.

while I can't speak to the cost vs value of hand saws I can comment on the use of a dozuki - I've used the same one for about 20 years. Mine is certainly not in the catagory of a high end master's tool but it has stood me well over the years for a nice utility bench saw for a variety of uses. It's never been sharpened and now has a few teeth out of alignment but it keeps on giving me nice thin cuts. Buy yourself a cheap one and have at it for a while - you'll love how nicly it slices through a piece of wood.

Eric Sanford
09-04-2003, 2:15 PM
Hi Matt,

thought I would toss out my experience since I went through the same question awhile back. I've been getting into WWing in the last three years. I originally bought a dozuki and ultimately added a couple other japanese-style saws. They are great; they cut well and quickly. They do require some adjustment to how you saw, but nothing that cannot be learned. That being said, I did find cutting dovetails to be challenging with the dozuki. I couldn't seem to keep the cuts as straight or square as I wanted. Usually that meant I would cut shy and pare. Finally, I decided to try a western style saw and bought a LN Independence DT saw. It was pure bliss. I find that my cuts are much straighter and result in more confidence. I still reach first for my Ryoba for many of the odd cuts I make, but prefer the LN for dovetails.

As far as I know, I am not breaking any laws by having and using both ;)

Eric

Hal Flynt
09-04-2003, 4:24 PM
First a little background.

I lived in Japan almost 10 years and the only hand saws I could get were pull saws, so that's what I learned on. I can cut a strip off a piece of plywood and leave graphite on each side of the line as the kerf is as thin as a band saw (oops a panel saw) blade. I used to marvel at how my Japanese carpenter would cut overhead miters without marking anything or using any jigs. Like any good technique, stance and body control are very important. If you stand straight and square to the work, lay the blade of the saw across the work and look at the reflection of the work in the blade, you can see 90 and 45 degrees easily.

For 90 the edge of the work's reflection appears to pass through uninterrupted. If you can pull straight back, your cut will be 90 degrees. That reflection line can show any bevel (line appears to climb or drop).

To cut a 45 miter, you want to see a 90 reflection. Does it take practice, yes. Can you master it, yes.

A fellow named Chris Black at Highland Hardware was demonstrating hand cutting dovetails when you were in a hurry and that caught my attention, He used a pencil, marking gauge and a dozuki. First he scribed the thickness around the work, put it in a vice and set the pin angle to what was pleasing to the eye, cut the first half pin, then the opposite side, next he decided how big he wanted the tails and how many and cut the opposite pin side leaving the tail width between. Next he took half the distance from there to do the other side and viola, 3 pins. Chopped out the waste, marked the tails with a knife edged sharpened pencil cut inside the lines, chopped the waste. I drove home cut my first set in about 10 minutes fit them together and can't get them apart, they measured 10 degrees in 3/4 inch stock. Itís the same process as with a push saw, he just is in the camp of pins first.

I had purchased a Crown gents saw and just couldnít cut with it as well. I did practice sharpening the gent and well I can almost cut as well with it. The angle of the Japanese saw blades will keep the front and back of your cut on the same plane IF you have the work at the right height, and you need to find this height by experiment. I also learned how to sharpen a pull saw and wow sharp tools cut better.

Now what does this have to do with tenons? Same principal applies, mark the tenon, put in the vice at the correct height, stand plumb and square, start at one corner, then the other, connect the two etc. etc. The object IMHO is to end up with a tenon or dovetail by removing what doesnít need to be there in the most comfortable and efficient way. Oh I almost forgot, without killing any electrons. Donít cut too fast or you could blow the candles out.

Brian Bailey
09-04-2003, 7:14 PM
Hi Matt,

I just bought a L-N Dovetail saw. After using a small bowsaw with a fine tooth hacksaw blade to cut dovetails it's like nite & day. I have a bunch of L-N planes and am very pleased with the quality, so the saw was a no brainer. Also, the offer of sending it back to L-N to get it resharpened was more incentive to get it. Good luck in your quest. Brian...

Matthew Springer
09-05-2003, 5:00 PM
Matt,
I went through this about 3 months ago when I was thinking of getting into handcut dovetails. I ended up getting one of pretty much everything. The ones I use are LN carcass crosscut, LN dovetail rip (I use this one mostly) and the SunChild Dozuki with the disposable blade (it's the one with the crane lookign mark). I use them all for stuff. I find when I'm just making non dimensionally important cuts, I always grab the Japanese dozuki because I don't need to clamp the board in my bench, I can just hold it still on the table with my hand.

Thoughts:
Your reults have alot to do with how well you can get the stock flat, square and do layout. Cutting to the line is important. There's some folks who say pull stroke saws obscure the line, but I find both types of saws do that. I find the pull saws much easier to start. I use the LN dovetail when I do dovetails. Still learning how to do layout.

You might as well buy a cheap but good dozuki. The Sunchild $40 Japanese Woodworker jobbie is great. If you hate it, you're only out 40 bucks.

-Matthew

Marc Burt
09-06-2003, 1:54 PM
I just received my Adria dovetail saw yesterday and played with a little last night. Wow what a difference a quality tool can make. I had be using the rosewood handled gent's saw from Lee Valley. There is no comparison.

I say all this to say that I'm sure it's the same way with pull saws, there's cheap ones that you will have to fight and better ones that are more of a joy.