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Thread: First Dovetail Saw

  1. #1
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    First Dovetail Saw

    I am wanting to buy my first dovetail saw. Looking at the Lie Nielsen saw. Not sure about the straight blade or tapered one. I see there is a blade thickness difference. This is my first DT saw not my first hand saw.
    Asking for suggestions on either the straight blade or Tapered blade ?
    Thanks for any suggestions / insights

  2. #2
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    I have never used one. Christopher Schwarz is a fan, however:

    https://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/0...canted-blades/

    I am a little bit concerned that one of the stated reasons for wanting one is so that you do NOT cut below the line because the front is narrower than the back so when the back hits the line, the front has not (assuming you hold the saw straight). That also means that you either need to:


    1. Tilt the saw if you want to cut to the line front and back, so then you have learned to cut differently than your non-canted saws.
    2. Chisel clean up. You are going to do that anyway, so not sure it matters.


    Since I have never used one and then I would have only one saw that was different, I would get the non-tapered blade.

    That said, I think that either would work just fine for you. The Lie Nielsen saw is nice. I like mine. I also like my Veritas saw from Lee Valley. Saw is not as nice (not a wood handle and I think that the saw plate is a wee bit thicker, think I read that somewhere, I have not noticed a difference in use), but it works just fine.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    ... I also like my Veritas saw from Lee Valley. Saw is not as nice (not a wood handle and I think that the saw plate is a wee bit thicker, think I read that somewhere, ....
    Huh? The Veritas Dovetail saws have a "hardwood handle", torrified maple IIRC (they don't say on the Dovetail saw page.) The saw plate is 0.020", same as the L-N non-tapered saw. (The L-N tapered version is 0.015" per their webpage.) Where the Veritas backsaws are unconventional is the composite back. They are a molded composite, which certainly looks a little "space age" when compared to the more traditional L-N brass backs.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bassett View Post
    Huh? The Veritas Dovetail saws have a "hardwood handle", torrified maple IIRC (they don't say on the Dovetail saw page.) The saw plate is 0.020", same as the L-N non-tapered saw. (The L-N tapered version is 0.015" per their webpage.) Where the Veritas backsaws are unconventional is the composite back. They are a molded composite, which certainly looks a little "space age" when compared to the more traditional L-N brass backs.
    Guess when I look at it I see the odd molded composite stuff not the wood handle part sticking out of it.

  5. #5
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    Veritas was my first one. Not as pretty as a brass back but I was very happy with it anyway. Now that I have used a brass back one, I prefer the added weight. Just feels better personally.

  6. #6
    Both excellent saws. The thin plate would be my preference. However, depending on your level a sawing ability, the .020 plate might be a better option. If you are confident that you can handle a DT saw like holding a baby bird: get the .015. If you are more ham-fisted: get the .020.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Burke View Post
    I am wanting to buy my first dovetail saw. Looking at the Lie Nielsen saw. Not sure about the straight blade or tapered one. I see there is a blade thickness difference. This is my first DT saw not my first hand saw.
    Asking for suggestions on either the straight blade or Tapered blade ?
    Thanks for any suggestions / insights

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    767
    Note that the LN handles are thin. If you have large hands you may well have trouble controlling the saw. OTOH, the LB totes would enforce a light grip which is desirable. It is really nice if you can get a tote sized for your hand.

  8. #8
    I have used both the straight blade and the tapered blade LN saws. I didn't see a lot of difference between them. Either will work fine for you.

    They're good saws. I prefer the LN dovetail saw to the LV dovetail saw.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. I like the brass back traditional look. The straight blade would probably suit me better at this point. LN suggested the .020 blade also. Slowly getting my dovetailing tools assembled.
    Thanks.

  10. #10
    Most dovetail saws from the handtool era have a tapered plate and have a good clearance between the handle and the tooth line. Many makers today do not have much experience with actually using a saw.

    The toe of the saw is the most susceptible to flexing. It is helpful to have the back close to the teeth. You need enough room there to cut to the dovetail depth and some extra to account for sharpening loss over the years.

    The heel is less vulnerable because the handle is fastened on the plate, helping stiffen. And the handle reduces the clearance on the plate, so having a greater plate depth keeps the handle away from the tooth line. This is why historic saws are tapered.

    On historic saws the handle is also angled up more for the smaller saws. You really don't want the handle down below the tooth line as some makers do today. We sometimes use a dovetail saw for sawing small work on a bench hook or sawing board; there needs to be clearance between the saw line and the handle or the handle will hit the sawing board. The tapered plate also helps to angle the handle away from the tooth line. And because you might sharpen the saw a number of times, you don't want the handle too low.

    Buying a good saw at the outset might seem like a good idea, but buying a gents saw for a lot less money enables you to get started and gain knowledge before committing a larger sum. A rip filed gents saw is adequate for professional work.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Burke View Post
    I am wanting to buy my first dovetail saw. Looking at the Lie Nielsen saw. Not sure about the straight blade or tapered one. I see there is a blade thickness difference. This is my first DT saw not my first hand saw.
    Asking for suggestions on either the straight blade or Tapered blade ?
    Thanks for any suggestions / insights
    Hi Mike

    The LN was the first new dovetail saw I purchased, about 20 years ago. I really like this saw, and it is one of my go-to dovetail saws today. However, when I first got it, it was difficult to start a cut, and caused some frustration. The issue here was the zero rake - just too aggressive for me at that stage. I returned to a vintage saw, which cut more easily. The LN went onto a shelf for a few years.

    I understand now about the zero rake, but not then. Today I see the LN as a really excellent dovetail saw, but not ideal for those starting out sawing dovetails. It is akin to learning to drive in a F1 racing car. It is a high performance saw, and will be grabby when starting the cut as a beginner does not have the light hand and touch to float the saw. This is recognised by makers, such as Rob Cosman, who builds into his saws smaller teeth at the toe of the plate.

    There is a better saw for those starting out: the Veritas (both 14- and 20 tpi) saws have a relaxed 14 degree rake. They cut slower, but are so much easier to use. Of these choices, I’d go for the 14 tpi.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  12. #12
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    Aug 2014
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    OK, I suppose I'm a Fan-Boy, but I like the Veritas saws. While I hate "cheap" tools, I probably overly appreciate "value" tools. These saws really hit the mark with my prejudices. (I acknowledge the spine appearance is a deal breaker for some, different metrics. It's OK.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    ... They cut slower, but ....
    They do, but that shouldn't be read as saying they cut slow.

    A little over a year ago I splurged and attended a handtool class with Chris Gochnour at FWW's Hands-On. I didn't take a careful count but about half the dovetail saws in the class were Veritas. When used confidently we were maybe taking an extra stroke per dovetail cut. (What's really slow is nibbling away with short tentative strokes.)

    Derek has a lot of dovetail saw information on his website. It's worth seeking it out. (It's his fault I aspire to a Gramercy dovetail saw. It'd basically be unusable to me today, but someday... I hope I'll have the skills.)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Hi Mike

    The LN was the first new dovetail saw I purchased, about 20 years ago. I really like this saw, and it is one of my go-to dovetail saws today. However, when I first got it, it was difficult to start a cut, and caused some frustration. The issue here was the zero rake - just too aggressive for me at that stage. I returned to a vintage saw, which cut more easily. The LN went onto a shelf for a few years.

    I understand now about the zero rake, but not then. Today I see the LN as a really excellent dovetail saw, but not ideal for those starting out sawing dovetails. It is akin to learning to drive in a F1 racing car. It is a high performance saw, and will be grabby when starting the cut as a beginner does not have the light hand and touch to float the saw. This is recognised by makers, such as Rob Cosman, who builds into his saws smaller teeth at the toe of the plate.

    There is a better saw for those starting out: the Veritas (both 14- and 20 tpi) saws have a relaxed 14 degree rake. They cut slower, but are so much easier to use. Of these choices, I’d go for the 14 tpi.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Derek: I believe the LN currently incorporates 8 of rake (was in touch today with LN on their DT saw). Phil
    Last edited by Phil Gaudio; 02-19-2021 at 2:09 PM.

  14. #14
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    Get a 10" gent's saw for $30. There's no significant time savings to be had, in the overall process of dovetail joinery, by using an aggressively filed saw. Most time is lost faffing with layout and waste removal. The entire depth of a gent's saw from toe to heel is useable for the entire life of the saw, as long as enough plate is left to go to the depth you need. The handle is never in the way as the saw is filed down.

  15. #15
    I have had the LN for a couple years and prefer it to the Veritas (both of which I own). The LN is aggressive, but this is IMHO a huge benefit. You have to learn to start the cut, but that's IMHO an easy skill to master. The aggressiveness of the LN allows the saw to do the work without much pressure at all. This results in straighter (and btw faster) cuts than with the Veritas ones. YMMV.

    I really want to try the tapered version.

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