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Thread: Tenon saw size?

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Parkis View Post
    Laurent, depending on where in the Northeast you are, you are welcome to come and check out the saws, vises and other stuff I have. I am in Albany, about 5 minutes from exit 2 of I-87. I used to sell here a lot.

    Thanks for the kind offer Dave! I'd love to take you up on it, bu I live out in southern NH, so Albany is unfortunately a bit too much of a haul.

  2. #17
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    No expert here, but I can't say enough good things about the Bad Axe 12" hybrid saw I got several months ago. Beautifully made, balanced and I find it to be an easy saw to use. I've used it for dovetails, tenons and half blind dovetails and like it much more than the LN dovetail saw I bought last year. As a matter of fact you may see the LN in the classifieds soon.
    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

  3. #18
    So is the general consensus that the massive backsaws like the "beast" that is made by badaxe, an 18" Saw with 5" of 0.032" plate under the back just too big and heavy to be properly useful?

    Anyone here use the 18" Badaxe backsaws?

    Cheers, Dom

  4. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Dominik Dudkiewicz View Post
    So is the general consensus that the massive backsaws like the "beast" that is made by badaxe, an 18" Saw with 5" of 0.032" plate under the back just too big and heavy to be properly useful?

    Anyone here use the 18" Badaxe backsaws?

    Cheers, Dom
    I would say this large backsaw was designed for people who don't know what they are doing.

    I once won a tenon sawing contest using a 16" Badaxe saw and got the saw as a prize. At 4" high, it is a little bulky and wobbly, just not ideal. For any tenon that is large enough that 3" or so is insufficient, we use a ripsaw for cutting the cheeks.

    Peter Nicholson, writing in 1812, mentions Tenon saws being 14 to 18 inches long. However, he says that tenon saws are used for crosscutting. For cutting the tenon cheeks, Nicholson says to use a hand saw (26 inches long).

    There is a 19" tenon saw in the Seaton chest (1796). It is filed crosscut. The other three back saws in the Seaton chest are file rip. The Sash saw is 14" long with a cutting depth of 2.75 inches.

  5. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Mickley View Post
    I would say this large backsaw was designed for people who don't know what they are doing.

    I once won a tenon sawing contest using a 16" Badaxe saw and got the saw as a prize. At 4" high, it is a little bulky and wobbly, just not ideal. For any tenon that is large enough that 3" or so is insufficient, we use a ripsaw for cutting the cheeks.

    Peter Nicholson, writing in 1812, mentions Tenon saws being 14 to 18 inches long. However, he says that tenon saws are used for crosscutting. For cutting the tenon cheeks, Nicholson says to use a hand saw (26 inches long).

    There is a 19" tenon saw in the Seaton chest (1796). It is filed crosscut. The other three back saws in the Seaton chest are file rip. The Sash saw is 14" long with a cutting depth of 2.75 inches.
    It certainly sound logical to use a smaller back saw for most average sized tenons, and cut the really large or very wide tenons with a panel saw or handsaw. Doing a little digging though, I think this debate has some history! Here's an old thread about a Chris Schwarz piece on this very topic: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....page2&p=954918

    This is likely the article the thread is referencing: https://www.popularwoodworking.com/c...saws-you-need/

    Here's another Schwarz piece on the tenon saw from the Seaton chest: https://www.popularwoodworking.com/c...ous-tenon-saw/

    I'm sure I could go find some other well known authors with conflicting thoughts on the right size for a tenon saw (I believe I've seen a post or two from Joel on the Tools for Working Wood blog praising smaller tenon saws). It's looking to me like this question comes down to personal preference, experiences, and anecdotal evidence, and not really that much to do with what work is actually done with the saws. Schwarz likes a big tenon saw for general furniture work, but he might be an outlier. With all that in mind, I guess I can't really be sure if I'll prefer a larger tenon saw, or a smaller sash saw until I spend some time with a few different saws!

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Taran View Post
    Laurent,

    16" is a pretty hefty saw and not that easy to control. I have been collecting backsaws for about 30 years, and I have found precious few 16" back saws. That suggests to me that 16" backsaws were not in demand when people used backsaws for serious day to day work. Most common size is 12" and then 14". I see more 10" backsaws than I do 16". If you need that sort of depth of plate for ripping tenons, then it is the tool for the job, but you should consider that a longer saw is more difficult to control and if you don't need that function, go to the smallest saw you can to get the job done.

    Hope this helps.
    Interesting stuff, Pete. I always enjoy your well-seasoned opinion on saws. I recall years ago reading review of one of the contemporary large back saws, perhaps a sash saw, which seemed to me to promote it’s size and heft for improved self registration of the saw during a cut. While I do appreciate a progressive attitude, it does beg the question why such an oversized saw shows up only now in history if truly an improvement over traditional back saw dimensions.
    Last edited by Kurtis Johnson; 11-15-2019 at 7:48 AM.

  7. #22
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    While I do appreciate a progressive attitude, it does beg the question why such an oversized saw shows up only now in history if truly an improvement over traditional back saw dimensions.
    Kurtis; view the wide range in back saw lengths.

    http://www.disstonianinstitute.com/backsawpage.html

  8. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent Marshall View Post
    It certainly sound logical to use a smaller back saw for most average sized tenons, and cut the really large or very wide tenons with a panel saw or handsaw. Doing a little digging though, I think this debate has some history! Here's an old thread about a Chris Schwarz piece on this very topic: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....page2&p=954918

    This is likely the article the thread is referencing: https://www.popularwoodworking.com/c...saws-you-need/

    Here's another Schwarz piece on the tenon saw from the Seaton chest: https://www.popularwoodworking.com/c...ous-tenon-saw/

    I'm sure I could go find some other well known authors with conflicting thoughts on the right size for a tenon saw (I believe I've seen a post or two from Joel on the Tools for Working Wood blog praising smaller tenon saws). It's looking to me like this question comes down to personal preference, experiences, and anecdotal evidence, and not really that much to do with what work is actually done with the saws. Schwarz likes a big tenon saw for general furniture work, but he might be an outlier. With all that in mind, I guess I can't really be sure if I'll prefer a larger tenon saw, or a smaller sash saw until I spend some time with a few different saws!
    Personal preference is important, but the people you reference do not have a wealth of experience. Chris Schwarz was apparently not aware that the tenon saw in the Seaton Chest was filed crosscut. That information was conveyed in Gaynor's drawings notes in the 2nd edition of the Seaton book (2013). The article you mentioned was written 2006. He was apparently not aware that Nicholson, who was a cabinetmaker in London in the 18th century, said the tenon saw was used for cross cutting and that a hand saw, not a tenon saw, was used for tenon cheeks.

    In a 2013 blog, Schwarz says he sucks at hand mortising. Probably part of the problem is lack of experience and lack of training.

  9. #24
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    I have dovetail and tenon saws, but I also have a Disston handsaw that had a broken saw plate, so I squared the saw plate, sharpened and set the teeth. I performs quite will for cutting tenons in a 2x4.
    I also have a D12 10 pt saw cross cut that cuts really nice. Made a curly maple handle for it and bought shiny brass saw nuts. I recommend you buy a saw set.

    You can make paper patterns for various tpi, attach it with double sticky tape and file new teeth.
    Make a wooden block to clamp a mill file to the saw plate. You can clamp a thin wooden block to the file so you can
    file the saw square and level.

    Try it on an old junker.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dominik Dudkiewicz View Post
    So is the general consensus that the massive backsaws like the "beast" that is made by badaxe, an 18" Saw with 5" of 0.032" plate under the back just too big and heavy to be properly useful?

    Anyone here use the 18" Badaxe backsaws?

    Cheers, Dom
    I wrote at the beginning of the thread that my go-to backsaw for tenons is a 14” Gramercy sash saw. This is 13 tpi, which makes it closer to a large dovetail saw. A decade ago, when CS wrote about 16” and 18” tenon saws, I was influenced to purchase a custom 16” by Mike Wenzloff. I used it for a few years, and can attest that it certainly cut well. A beautiful saw in many ways. However, I found it cumbersome for the largely 1” long x 2” wide cheeks that form the majority of frame tenons in furniture I build. It cut very fast with its 10 tpi, but the downside to the larger teeth it that they are harder to start, and this can penalise one if there is any inaccuracy. I shudder to imagine what an 18” plate will feel like.

    In the years before, my favourite tenon saw was a 14” brass back Nurse, which I had picked up at a swap meet. The extra 2” less in length, along with the narrower plate, made a significant difference in control. I purchased the 14” Gramercy Sash saw in 2013, when I visited Joel at TFWW in Brooklyn. It it night-and-day. This saw feels closer in weight to the 12” brass back Disston #5 I have. The Gramercy is light. And although 13 tpi, it cuts as fast as I need it to saw. There is more control, and less fatigue. Joint-making is just sawing to a line as accurately as possible. No one asks if you performed this 0.5ms faster. All they do is look at the finished joint.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  11. #26
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    Stewie, yeah, I’d like to distance myself from my last comment, but too it’s late, LOL! I read that Benjamin’s Seaton list included tenon saws 16” to 19” long! I don’t even own a decent joinery back saw so I shouldn’t even be discussing them.

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    I wrote at the beginning of the thread that my go-to backsaw for tenons is a 14 Gramercy sash saw. This is 13 tpi, which makes it closer to a large dovetail saw. A decade ago, when CS wrote about 16 and 18 tenon saws, I was influenced to purchase a custom 16 by Mike Wenzloff. I used it for a few years, and can attest that it certainly cut well. A beautiful saw in many ways. However, I found it cumbersome for the largely 1 long x 2 wide cheeks that form the majority of frame tenons in furniture I build. It cut very fast with its 10 tpi, but the downside to the larger teeth it that they are harder to start, and this can penalise one if there is any inaccuracy. I shudder to imagine what an 18 plate will feel like.

    In the years before, my favourite tenon saw was a 14 brass back Nurse, which I had picked up at a swap meet. The extra 2 less in length, along with the narrower plate, made a significant difference in control. I purchased the 14 Gramercy Sash saw in 2013, when I visited Joel at TFWW in Brooklyn. It it night-and-day. This saw feels closer in weight to the 12 brass back Disston #5 I have. The Gramercy is light. And although 13 tpi, it cuts as fast as I need it to saw. There is more control, and less fatigue. Joint-making is just sawing to a line as accurately as possible. No one asks if you performed this 0.5ms faster. All they do is look at the finished joint.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    I have a Lie Nielsen 16" tenon saw but haven't really used it much - it's the thicker plate 0.032" version with about 0.004" of set and 4" plate and I don't really get along with it. It also has a very steep rake and is hard to start. I prefer the 14" Badaxe Sash I had made with a 0.02" plate, 3" plate, 13ppi and slightly relaxed rake. For large tenons (5" wide or larger) I generally use my bandsaw, or Japanese Ryoba, or for large stuff like 8" or 10" wide timber frame stuff I use a handsaw.

    I do love my thinner plate tenon/dovetail saws with my favourite being my two dovetail saws with 0.015" plates. I suspect I wouldn't love a heavy 18" backsaw, but some part of me really wants to try!

    Cheers, Dom

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