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Thread: Pull saws - can't seem to cut straight lines?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Spokane Valley, WA

    Pull saws - can't seem to cut straight lines?

    Howdy All, hope this is the proper forum for this question. I've used my Japanese pull saws - dozuki and kugihiki (sp?) a few times in the past, for short cuts. This is the first time I've tried to use either for longer cuts, and I cannot for anything get a straight cut. I've tried with both saws. I "THOUGHT" I was using a grip and technique I found on YT. So what am I doing wrong? Thanks for any advice!

    And - Happy Thanksgiving!

    Martypull saw.jpg
    "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity" - anon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Spartanburg South Carolina
    I liked my pull saw but found I could control a western dovetail saw better with a grip handle. Just more of a vertical line I guess.

  3. #3
    Too much downward pressure, I mean, pressure that's at the right angle to the cut line. You should actually try preventing any pressure. Even just the weight of you arm is already too much.

    Also, don't try to steer it. Steering barely works with thicker plates, with thin plates it makes everything way worse. Steering bends the plate and it moves away from the straight cutline, creating a bend in the kerf, that bends (and binds) the plate even more, and you end up with what we see in your picture.

  4. #4
    Place the workpiece in a vise at a comfortable level and angle so that you can use both hands on the saw's handle while sighting down the blade and cut line. The cut line should be drawn on all sides of the cut so you can visually align the saw. Start the cut along the short dimension, if possible, and switch to the long dimension while the blade is stabilized by the short cut. Frequently check your progress. A sharp saw doesn't require much pressure
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  5. #5
    Start the cut on a corner, while visually ensuring that the saw is aligned with the cut line on both adjacent faces.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Camarillo, CA
    I find western saws much more natural if I’m cutting joinery on a western style bench. With a Japanese saw I find myself squatting so the work is closer to eye level when I’m cutting tenons or making long rips at the bench. I also find Japanese saws feel more natural when I’m cutting on a saw bench and standing over the cut.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Oakland, CA
    Cut ten or twenty practice lines. I use the reflection in saw blade method, but after the practice, it comes pretty easily.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Gulseth View Post
    I "THOUGHT" I was using a grip and technique I found on YT. So what am I doing wrong? Thanks for any advice!
    My first thought was stop watching YT and go practice, sorry couldn't resist.

    I'm with most of the others. Marking all sides of the cut and starting at a corner seems to he the most in my experience. With a western saw, many times you can correct a drifting cut, with a Japanese style it can be impossible. Starting at the corner and scoring the cut with a stroke or two can help keep the blade aligned in the cut but you can't rely on it doing that 100% of the time.
    I definitely agree with not adding any additional pressure. When you do this the blade can bow follow the path of least resistance rather than cut straight. Same principal as pushing too hard against a bandsaw blade, they bow.
    I also wax my saw blades for protection and ease of cut
    Just my two cents

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Weber View Post
    ...I also wax my saw blades for protection and ease of cut...
    I would never wax my blade--just contaminating the joint to be glued or finished.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    I never have waxed a handsaw blade, nor thought about how I hold one. There may be some instances where a saw just won't cut straight, but in all others, it's the sawyer, not the saw. Start right, stay right, every stroke.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by andy bessette View Post
    I would never wax my blade--just contaminating the joint to be glued or finished.

    Never been an issue, BTW i use Renaissance wax

  12. #12
    Yeah, why would it? Even a thick layer of wax is not getting all the way into a cut and is deposited very close to the edge, taking maybe a few % of the glue surface - assuming it actually prevents glue from sticking. I wax my saws for storage, never for a cut, but a few times forgot to wipe it clean. A cut surface looks filthy, but it never goes very deep in wood, so a very light cleanup shaving removes any trace of wax. Oil would probably soak deeper, but it has to be some heavy oil. Japanese guys use camellia oil on their saws and all tools in general, for protection too. True camellia oil (not the mix with mineral oil most vendors sell online) is very light and evaporates almost like water, but I've heard that traditionally their joints were pressure fit, not glued. So there's that.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Northeast WI
    When using a pull saw, I line my body up in line with the cut, and I hold the handle with two hands, in line with the cut. I always cut in triangles. Line the saw plate both plumb and square and start the cut only on one edge. Gradually drop the saw to the gauge line as you keep cutting.

    I have found if I make an inaccurate cut, it is 95% of the time because I didn't start the cut plumb or square, and it only gets worse from there. Like if you build a house on an out of square foundation.

    A shooting board is a good way to hide mistakes too 😉
    Always put the crappy side against the wall

  14. #14
    Let me just add that this is something I've been doing for too many years to remember and personally have never had a problem. I never thought it was strange or controversial in any way.
    There are many articles out there regarding the use of Renaissance wax on tools.
    Waxing (polishing) a handsaw blade is not different than waxing a planes sole or a chisel, not to mention cast iron machine tables. It inhibits rust and make the surface very smooth and slick.
    Micro-crystalline wax is quite hard and doesn't transfer like some might visualize when thinking about paraffin or beeswax. I would say think more along the lines of car wax, very hard when cured.
    The link is just one example

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Tokyo, Japan
    While I'm not the most experienced here by any stretch, I've used Japanese pull saws very extensively, and find that I can get extremely square and straight cuts with them if I take a little time. The main points are:

    1. Grip the saw handle very gently towards the very end of the saw. Those long handles are long for a reason. For accurate cuts, I do not typically use two hands. Again, the longer the distance and the lighter the grip, the less you will negatively influence the cut and the more control you have.

    2. Start the cut on the far side and work towards you (in the direction you pull), rather than starting on the near side and working to the far side as you would with a western saw.

    3. As always, mark all corners and make a knife wall with a step chiseled in for best accuracy. Cut each face at a very shallow angle (the depth of the teeth or so), then saw down at a 45 degree angle, and then finish the cut.

    You can achieve very accurate cuts that are pretty darned close to perfectly square this way if you take your time.

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