View Full Version : Hand Saw Advice Needed

Brent Langdon
02-25-2003, 2:40 PM
I am looking for references on hand saws. Mostly I need some guidance on purchasing a couple saws. Don't laugh, but currently the only hand saw I own is a Stanley Handyman miter saw that came with a $30 miter box kit that I bought 10 year ago (okay, now you can laugh).

What would I like to do? hmmm… I would like to learn to hand cut dovetails. I like the idea of hand cutting tenons as well. I figure that I also could use a saw to crosscut boards. BTW, I also own a tablesaw.

What is my budget? Free would be good, but I suppose that I could justify around $100 for two or three saws. I don't need the best to get started and there are a lot of items on my "tool need" list. My next project is a bed-side end table with a dovetailed drawer, so I guess the dovetail saw is the biggest priority (and hopefully my Buck Bros chisels are good enough for now).

I was browsing around the Woodcraft in Springfield Virginia. They had a number of backsaws and Japanese saws in the $20-$30 range. I was just confused by what would be the best for me. Browsing around the Lee Valley web site I see a number of saws in my price range. The "Veritas Dovetail Saw and Guide" looks interesting.

What saws do you use and what do you recommend as a starter set?

Brent Langdon, Sterling VA

Dennis McDonaugh
02-25-2003, 4:25 PM
I think setting and sharpening the teeth are more important than the actual quality of the saw (within reason). I have seen inexpensive saws that were professionally set and sharpened that would cut rings around more expensive saws. One of the things that I don't understand is the way many dovetail saws are set at the factory--they have crosscut teeth. Dovetails are a rip cut so the saw doesn't perform as well as it could. I guess what I'm saying is get a good saw, but make sure its sharpened correctly by a competent professional.

Jim Fuller
02-26-2003, 10:57 AM
But keep in mind that if you buy a cheap saw then upgrade you will have spent more on the good saw than if you just bought good to start with. I like western style saws, my preference. If I were starting from scratch I would buy the japanese saws now. They cut good and are a lot cheaper. With that said I am not going to go away from what works for me. Be aware that the japanese saws cut on the pull stroke. And as Dennis said be sure you have a competent sharpener do your sharpening, or you will be disapointed. Another thing if you are going to cut dovetails and tenons you will need some good chisels, and sharp chisels, so leave room in your budget for them.

Brent Langdon
02-26-2003, 3:11 PM
I went ahead and placed my first order with Lee Valley. I ordered the $45 Professional Dozuki. I also ordered the front vice hardware so that I can finish up my workbench. I wish that Home Depot had better woodworking stuff, 'cause those charges are easier to slip by SWMBO.

I also posted this question over on WoodCentral and got a few more responces. I like both places, but I hope that this forum picks up a little more traffic. The Power Tool forum seems to be doing pretty good.

- Brent Langdon, Sterling VA

Stan Thigpen
02-27-2003, 7:46 AM
I was hanging a door for a friend several days ago and I needed a hand saw to trim the shims in place, as I had forgotten mine. I rummaged around among his few tools and found an old Disston which was surprisingly sharp, considering his lack of interest in tools. The interesting thing about this saw was that it had been sharpened and re-sharpened so many times that the tip of the saw came to a point and the heel end of the teeth was flush with the grip. Man, this old saw has seen some service over many years. I asked my friend about it and he said that it came from his wife's grandfather after the Mother's death. Just goes to show, buy a good tool and it'll serve for generations.:)

Gary Greenberg
03-04-2003, 12:27 PM
You've gotten a bunch of good advice so far. I'll add this: I purchased the 4-saw Paragon set from Garrett Wade some time back. They're decent quality saws and the 4 were on sale for $99.00 when I ordered 'em. Now, on sale, they're about $120 +/-.

Out of the box, they wandered! I thought it was me at first, but I had an opportunity to use the LN Independence and found out it was really the saws. I sent them to Tom Law for sharpening (as I didn't want to learn on this set -- I have others for that). I now have really nice saws--sharp, set properly, and easy to use.

The GW Paragon saws are a good value -- but if you get them, have 'em tuned and sharpened first.

Happy shavings,

Stan Smith
03-04-2003, 7:56 PM
The dozuki is a good choice. I have a small one. I also have a ryoba whick I use the most. It has small and large teeth on opposite sides of the blade. I also have a norbiki which has curved blades. I hardly ever use it though but it can get into tight places. I keep saying that I'm going to get a larger ryoba if I ever get to Japanese woodworker in alameda.

Ernie Miller Topeka
03-05-2003, 10:59 AM
Any fine tooth hand saw will cut dove tailes 12-14 TPI as long as it is sharp and perferably filed rip with out to much set. I prefer a western saw but I alos have an eastern saw that was about $15 from wood craft that works fine also. I am a bottom feeder and have a couple older distons that were about $5 each at garage sales that I have sharpened and set. I would consider learning to sharpen you own saws and keep them sharp.