Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: Gramercy dovetail saw - a brief review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6,616

    Gramercy dovetail saw - a brief review

    Just after New Year I travelled to Brooklyn to meet Joel Moskowitz, who runs Tools for Working Wood. After a great day playing with planes and saws and talking tools modern and old, Joel made me a gift of one of his dovetail saws. Joel was not aware that I had earlier planned to buy this saw, and so instead purchased his sash saw (a review for another time). The tool day did not end there as that evening my wife and I joined Joel and his family for a wonderful dinner ... and more tool talk .. I also learned where the name Gramercy comes from - it is the park near Joel's home.





    The Gramercy dovetail saw is unusual. It should not work on my local hardwoods - not the 3/4" Curly Marri I have been dovetailing into a blanket chest. Not only is the tooth count high for hardwood - 19 ppi - but the saw is light, very light.


    I've been using the saw for a little while now and it has become a favourite. I enjoy joinery and have several excellent saws, so this is high praise. One of my interests lies with tool design, and so have found the design of this saw a little perplexing. Why does it work so well? This is what I came up with.


    Let's look at the saw ...





    A 9" long skinny canted saw plate, with a cutting depth of only 1 1/4". At the toe it is a tad less that that. Compare this with the LN, which has a plate depth of 1 5/8" and a Wenzloff & Sons at 2".




    Top-to-bottom: Independent Tools, LN, Wenzloff & Sons, and Gramercy.





    The Gramercy weighs the least at 200 gms. The LN is 325 gms and the Wenzloff & Sons a whopping 400 gms in a shorter 8 1/4" plate. In part this is due to the brass backs: 1/2" for the Gramercy, and 3/4" for the others.


    Was it the thin 0.18" saw plate and "aggressive" zero rake rip teeth? Well the LN has the same teeth configuration in a 0.20" thick plate and 15 ppi, while the Wenzloff & Sons is also 0.18" thick but 20 ppi. All a little different but not so much that the Gramercy should feel so different.


    It was not simply the light weight that stood out. There were two other features of significance: The handle was clearly skinnier than the others, and its hang was completely different.








    I like the LN handle. It is thick and solid. The rounder Wenzloff is even nicer. I am used to these handles. The Gramercy simply could not be held in the same way. Its thinness forced one to hold the saw lightly. Where one would consciously have to loosen the grip with the LN or Wenzloff, as these encouraged a strong hand, I found that I did not hold the Gramercy tightly to begin with. The lighter weight added to this effect as there was less to stabilise.


    Then there was the higher hang of the handle. Compared with the others, the Gramercy appeared to convert more effort into more downforce.


    In the end all I could come up with was that the Gramercy more naturally allowed the saw to do more of the work.


    All the saws were used side-by-side to cut several dovetails. They are all excellent saws, but the Gramercy was just more relaxing, less effortful to use.





    Regards from Perth


    Derek

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    147
    Hi Derek,

    Just out of curiosity how would you compare these saws to a Veritas dovetail saw?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Milton, GA
    Posts
    3,213
    Blog Entries
    1
    Enjoyed the review Derek. I happen to have the same Gramercy Dovetail and Sash saws. Although I do not have all those other saws in my shop, I have tried a few others and I own a Tyzack, 8", 20 pt. There is something about the Gramercy saws that feels very different. I get more of the feeling that I am cutting leather or material with a knife than the sensation that I am sawing. They reward a light hand and light pressure with the sensation that the saw is almost melting it's way through the wood.

    Looking forward to the Sash saw review as I am very fond of mine.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6,616
    Quote Originally Posted by Derrell W Sloan View Post
    Hi Derek,

    Just out of curiosity how would you compare these saws to a Veritas dovetail saw?
    Hi Derrell

    I did not include the Veritas saws simply because they have the same hand as the other saws here. However, I should have (and will do so for my website). In the hand they work the same, with one exception, this being that they have relaxed rake (14 degrees). This translates into easier starting but slightly slower sawing (they are less aggressive).

    How a dovetail saw starts is very important for someone starting out. Even a hard-to-start saw, such as the LN here, will start comfortably for me as I am familiar with it and because I know how to take the weight off the toe as I start sawing. The Veritas does this for you. To be frank, I cannot recall how the Gramercy faired (I just forgot to put myself into the shoes of a novice), and I will assess this element. I suspect that the lighter weight of the Gramercy will compensate for the aggressive zero rake.

    There is a full review of the Veritas here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolRev...vetailSaw.html

    As you can see below, the hang is the same as the LN (and Independence Tools, from whence the LN sprang) ...



    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  5. Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Just after New Year I travelled to Brooklyn to meet Joel Moskowitz, who runs Tools for Working Wood. After a great day playing with planes and saws and talking tools modern and old, Joel made me a gift of one of his dovetail saws. Joel was not aware that I had earlier planned to buy this saw, and so instead purchased his sash saw (a review for another time). The tool day did not end there as that evening my wife and I joined Joel and his family for a wonderful dinner ... and more tool talk .. I also learned where the name Gramercy comes from - it is the park near Joel's home.





    The Gramercy dovetail saw is unusual. It should not work on my local hardwoods - not the 3/4" Curly Marri I have been dovetailing into a blanket chest. Not only is the tooth count high for hardwood - 19 ppi - but the saw is light, very light.


    I've been using the saw for a little while now and it has become a favourite. I enjoy joinery and have several excellent saws, so this is high praise. One of my interests lies with tool design, and so have found the design of this saw a little perplexing. Why does it work so well? This is what I came up with.


    Let's look at the saw ...





    A 9" long skinny canted saw plate, with a cutting depth of only 1 1/4". At the toe it is a tad less that that. Compare this with the LN, which has a plate depth of 1 5/8" and a Wenzloff & Sons at 2".




    Top-to-bottom: Independent Tools, LN, Wenzloff & Sons, and Gramercy.





    The Gramercy weighs the least at 200 gms. The LN is 325 gms and the Wenzloff & Sons a whopping 400 gms in a shorter 8 1/4" plate. In part this is due to the brass backs: 1/2" for the Gramercy, and 3/4" for the others.


    Was it the thin 0.18" saw plate and "aggressive" zero rake rip teeth? Well the LN has the same teeth configuration in a 0.20" thick plate and 15 ppi, while the Wenzloff & Sons is also 0.18" thick but 20 ppi. All a little different but not so much that the Gramercy should feel so different.


    It was not simply the light weight that stood out. There were two other features of significance: The handle was clearly skinnier than the others, and its hang was completely different.








    I like the LN handle. It is thick and solid. The rounder Wenzloff is even nicer. I am used to these handles. The Gramercy simply could not be held in the same way. Its thinness forced one to hold the saw lightly. Where one would consciously have to loosen the grip with the LN or Wenzloff, as these encouraged a strong hand, I found that I did not hold the Gramercy tightly to begin with. The lighter weight added to this effect as there was less to stabilise.


    Then there was the higher hang of the handle. Compared with the others, the Gramercy appeared to convert more effort into more downforce.


    In the end all I could come up with was that the Gramercy more naturally allowed the saw to do more of the work.


    All the saws were used side-by-side to cut several dovetails. They are all excellent saws, but the Gramercy was just more relaxing, less effortful to use.





    Regards from Perth


    Derek
    Here is John Bullar dovetailing with a small dovetail saw similar to the Gramercy, it might even be smaller. While they are not carcase dovetails, he clearly is gettin' after it pretty good with that little saw. A dovetail saw doesn't need any more depth, really, than the thickness of the woods being worked. For carcase furniture that's unlikely to be more than an inch thick and the norm would be more like 3/4" in your example. A lot of people use gent's saws which of course are even lighter than the Gramercy and some even have a shorter blade so there's really nothing unusual, groundbreaking, new, or unique about small saws being used for dovetailing, not even carcases.

    There is also nothing about a small high tooth count saw that's contraindicated for use on hard, tropical species. One could make a case that they are actually preferable, especially on wild grained wood where the first few saw strokes with a larger, lower tooth count saw can produce unacceptable chipping and blowout at pin and tail edges (showing in the finished joint) where the grain swirls and runs out or is generally turbulent. It looks like this may have even happened on your tail no. 2 from the top - looks like a sliver came off a corner despite the use of a very finely toothed saw.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ8fSSKn0Ls
    Last edited by Charlie Stanford; 05-28-2013 at 9:38 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Chevy Chase, Maryland
    Posts
    2,482
    I concur with your review. I made the kit when it first came out, and like you I have several DT saws, but this one remains my "go to" first choice.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Milton, GA
    Posts
    3,213
    Blog Entries
    1
    The saw Bullar is using looks like the Gramercy saw to me: similar plate, similar nuts, similar handle & material, similar back.... not many handles like the Gramercy.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6,616
    Here is John Bullar dovetailing with a small dovetail saw similar to the Gramercy, it might even be smaller. While they are not carcase dovetails, he clearly is gettin' after it pretty good with that little saw. A dovetail saw doesn't need any more depth, really, than the thickness of the woods being worked. For carcase furniture that's unlikely to be more than an inch thick and the norm would be more like 3/4" in your example. A lot of people use gent's saws which of course are even lighter than the Gramercy and some even have a shorter blade so there's really nothing unusual about small saws being used for dovetailing, not even carcases.
    Hi Charles

    Thanks for responding.

    I've admired that video by John Bullar before. And he is using the Gramercy dovetail saw (and not just one that looks like it).

    The point I wished to make in the review (upon which I can and should expand) is that the design is different from the more "traditional" dovetail saws and the features are purposeful, not simply aesthetic. It occurs to me that the Gramercy is the antithesis of the saw designed and sold by Rob Cosman, which offers an "extra heavy brass back" and "composite handles", all of which add significant weight with the purpose of increasing stability. The Gramercy manages to do this quite differently. That is not a poke at Rob's design, but a comment that there are many ways to skin a cat.

    However, it is not simply about weight (as you refer to by making the comparison of the Gramercy to a gent saw). It is also about the hang of the handle - where the gent saw is quite different. I had some communication from Ron Bontz, who is making some superb saws these days. He was is agreement with my observations about the higher hang increasing downforce.

    There is also nothing about a small high tooth count saw that's contraindicated for use on hard, tropical species. One could make a case that they are actually preferable, especially on wild grained wood where the first few saw strokes with a larger, lower tooth count saw can produce unacceptable chipping and blowout at pin and tail edges (showing in the finished joint) where the grain swirls and runs out or is generally turbulent.
    One observation I can make about the Wenzloff saw here is that it was the slowest cutting. It had the highest tooth count (20 ppi), but was also filed with some fleam for hardwood. That was Mike's take on setting up a saw for our local woods. It works very well on thinner boards, but was out-of-its-depth on this 3/4" Curly Marri. If one is going to use smaller teeth, such as the Gramercy (19 ppi), then it is advisable to team it with minimum rake, as it does.

    One saw I tried that attempted to add small teeth to large teeth was the Glen-Drake Joinery Saw. Some love it. I did not get on with it at all, finding the transition between tooth size to be most unsettling. One of these days I will give it a second go.

    I find all design - including tool design - fascinating. Understanding what works and why must improve one's understanding of tool use, and thereby improve our skills. Of course it is not necessary to go to these lengths. But it is fun.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  9. #9
    Great Review Derek! I have many dovetail saws and some very very fine saws. (Lie-Nielsen Pax, Bad Axe, Klaus &Pedder, Wenzloff). I freely admit I have a saw addiction. I have found the Gammercy to be my go to saw when I need to make a quick series of cuts. It is just comfortable to use. I have suspected this is due to the hang which is very different. It is not as thin as my Two lawyers saws but thinner than the Pax or Lie Nielsens. It is not as fast as the bad axe saws but fast enough. It is easy to start and easy to sharpen. It is just a nice little saw.

    George
    George Beck
    Fishers Laser Carvers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    718
    What wood is used in the Wenzloff handle? *very* attractive.

    For a relative beginner, I like the Gramercy saws quite well. I like that they start easily and I seem to cut at least as well with them as with anything else I've sued. I will say that the handles do feel a bit (delicate), encouragin a lighter grasp.

    Am looking forward to your take on the larger saw -- I'd just picked one up recently, but have been too busy to use it beyond a few quick test cuts.

    Any Bad Axe tools on the horizon for your assessments?

    Matt

  11. Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Hi Charles

    Thanks for responding.

    I've admired that video by John Bullar before. And he is using the Gramercy dovetail saw (and not just one that looks like it).

    The point I wished to make in the review (upon which I can and should expand) is that the design is different from the more "traditional" dovetail saws and the features are purposeful, not simply aesthetic. It occurs to me that the Gramercy is the antithesis of the saw designed and sold by Rob Cosman, which offers an "extra heavy brass back" and "composite handles", all of which add significant weight with the purpose of increasing stability. The Gramercy manages to do this quite differently. That is not a poke at Rob's design, but a comment that there are many ways to skin a cat.

    However, it is not simply about weight (as you refer to by making the comparison of the Gramercy to a gent saw). It is also about the hang of the handle - where the gent saw is quite different. I had some communication from Ron Bontz, who is making some superb saws these days. He was is agreement with my observations about the higher hang increasing downforce.



    One observation I can make about the Wenzloff saw here is that it was the slowest cutting. It had the highest tooth count (20 ppi), but was also filed with some fleam for hardwood. That was Mike's take on setting up a saw for our local woods. It works very well on thinner boards, but was out-of-its-depth on this 3/4" Curly Marri. If one is going to use smaller teeth, such as the Gramercy (19 ppi), then it is advisable to team it with minimum rake, as it does.

    One saw I tried that attempted to add small teeth to large teeth was the Glen-Drake Joinery Saw. Some love it. I did not get on with it at all, finding the transition between tooth size to be most unsettling. One of these days I will give it a second go.

    I find all design - including tool design - fascinating. Understanding what works and why must improve one's understanding of tool use, and thereby improve our skills. Of course it is not necessary to go to these lengths. But it is fun.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Poor Mike - seems like putting fleam on a 20 ppi saw was perhaps a fool's errand.

    I started out with a Stanley $6 gent's style dovetail saw and can honestly say that though I've upgraded (but not by much by today's boutique saw standard) I've never really cut a 'better' dovetail than those done with the Stanley, nor faster either. I owned the L-N saw briefly and hated it. I think I kept waiting for it to wow me. Never did. I guess it's all what one gets used to.

  12. Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Hi Charles

    Thanks for responding.

    I've admired that video by John Bullar before. And he is using the Gramercy dovetail saw (and not just one that looks like it).

    The point I wished to make in the review (upon which I can and should expand) is that the design is different from the more "traditional" dovetail saws and the features are purposeful, not simply aesthetic. It occurs to me that the Gramercy is the antithesis of the saw designed and sold by Rob Cosman, which offers an "extra heavy brass back" and "composite handles", all of which add significant weight with the purpose of increasing stability. The Gramercy manages to do this quite differently. That is not a poke at Rob's design, but a comment that there are many ways to skin a cat.

    However, it is not simply about weight (as you refer to by making the comparison of the Gramercy to a gent saw). It is also about the hang of the handle - where the gent saw is quite different. I had some communication from Ron Bontz, who is making some superb saws these days. He was is agreement with my observations about the higher hang increasing downforce.



    One observation I can make about the Wenzloff saw here is that it was the slowest cutting. It had the highest tooth count (20 ppi), but was also filed with some fleam for hardwood. That was Mike's take on setting up a saw for our local woods. It works very well on thinner boards, but was out-of-its-depth on this 3/4" Curly Marri. If one is going to use smaller teeth, such as the Gramercy (19 ppi), then it is advisable to team it with minimum rake, as it does.

    One saw I tried that attempted to add small teeth to large teeth was the Glen-Drake Joinery Saw. Some love it. I did not get on with it at all, finding the transition between tooth size to be most unsettling. One of these days I will give it a second go.

    I find all design - including tool design - fascinating. Understanding what works and why must improve one's understanding of tool use, and thereby improve our skills. Of course it is not necessary to go to these lengths. But it is fun.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    The hang does look extreme. It might be useful when cutting the pin board on any of the iterations of blind joints - half blind or otherwise, if being done in a regular vise and not raised in a bench on bench arrangement. I'll never know for sure since I doubt I'll buy a new dovetail saw.

    'Ole Bullar really gives the middle two to three inches of his saw a workout.
    Last edited by Charlie Stanford; 05-28-2013 at 4:57 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Williamsburg,Va.
    Posts
    12,388
    Well,he did do a fast and accurate job of cutting those dovetails!!

  14. Quote Originally Posted by george wilson View Post
    Well,he did do a fast and accurate job of cutting those dovetails!!
    Like Chihuahuas mating....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6,616
    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Hills View Post
    What wood is used in the Wenzloff handle? *very* attractive.
    Hi Matt

    That is African Blackwood. It does look a lot like Ebony, but you can see the grain through the black. I have a matched set of dovetail and (16") tenon saws that were a 60th birthday present from my wife a few years ago.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •