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  1. #1
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    Default Cheap saw options

    I've got this far building things using a GMC compound mitre saw for crosscuts, a GMC circular saw I've been using for ripping timber to width, and a cheap no-name Bunnings hardpoint tenon saw for everything else.

    I've recently decided I'd like to do some traditional joinery - proper woodwork - so have been hunting down old hand tools, mainly at flea markets (I recently found a 70s vintage Stanley plane for $15 in great condition, among other things). But I'm reluctant to buy a blunt saw, since I don't have the skill or equipment to sharpen it.

    So to add to my little collection I'm considering three things:

    A cheap $34 generic Japanese "Razor-Cut Dovetail" saw from Carbatec;
    An almost as cheap $57 Dozuki 210mm dovetail saw from Carbatec;
    A bunch of saw files and a flea market tenon saw. Not the preferred option (I prefer Japanese saws, the motion makes more sense to me).

    What's my best option? Like most hobbies, money is an issue but time isn't.

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  3. #2
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    Sep 2010
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    Sydney
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    Razorsaw/Gyokucho Bluehard ryoba, 240mm, Komame fine pitch. : Tools from Japan, Japanese woodworking tools direct from Japan.

    I use this for most of my sawing, thin kerf, both rip and cross. It's cheap and replacement blades are cheap also. All in one!

  4. #3
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    Oct 2005
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    Yangebup, Perth
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    The Carbatec ones are fine I find. I have the one with the backbone for doveteails and tennons, and the one without a backbone for deeper work. Just remember that they are pull saws, not push saws like normal western saws.
    The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.

  5. #4
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    Snafuspyramid - yes, if you are going to get into serious joinery, a decent handsaw or two is an essential addition to your arsenal. I think if you start out with pull saws, and get used to them, you will be able to achieve the same ends as you would with a push saw. Having used push saws for more than 50 years, I just can't get on with a pull saw, but plenty of folks do, & turn out very fine work with them!

    Therefore, I can't help you with suggestions as to brands & types of pull saws. As far as I can tell, they all use the same tooth pattern, with bigger or smaller teeth, but I may be dead wrong there (& will no doubt soon be put straight). They are definitely more suited to softer wood, and don't like our tougher varieties, much, so that could influence your decision. Their fatal flaw for me is that they are extremely difficult to sharpen, for the average punter, and the 'use & thow away' idea is one I find abhorrent. My other dislike is that a pull saw feathers the scribe line as it cuts, but that is only a major issue sometimes.

    Saw sharpening is a bit of a dying art, but it's one well worth getting the hang of. It's not as difficult as you may think, but it does take a bit of practice to get good at it (just as it does to sharpen any tool well). If you can find someone to give you a basic lesson or two, so much the better, but there are quite good sets of instructions available on the web. Even a poorly-sharpened saw can work quite well (I know, I used them for many years as my skill slowly improved! ). A well-sharpened saw, exactly suited to the job, is a revelation & a delight, just as for planes & chisels, all of which you eventually learn to sharpen, so why not saws? And if you get serious about joinery, you will eventually want a few saws, with different tooth sizes & profiles, suited to the various tasks required. Someone has to keep them in good condition.

    Whichever way you go, it's a learning curve, so hang in there - the rewards can be great....

    Cheers,
    IW

  6. #5
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    Jun 2011
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    Melbourne
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    Again, thankyou for the invaluable advice.

    For the time being, I bought the Japanese saw suggested.

    I also hate the idea of disposable hand-tools. Somehow, it goes against the whole ethos of making furniture by hand. But that might be just me. I'm not yet keen enough to try sharpening my own, though.

    For future reference though: where can I get saw files in Australia?

  7. #6
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    Nov 2007
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    Mt Crosby, Brisbane
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    Woodworking Hand Saws - Peachtree Woodworking Supply, Inc.

    irwin pull dovetail saw $17US plus postage. I bought one, seems ok, I am no conissure.
    I'm just a startled bunny in the headlights of life. L.J. Young.
    We live in a free country. We have freedom of choice. You can choose to agree with me, or you can choose to be wrong.
    Wait! No one told you your government was a sitcom?

  8. #7
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    Oct 2005
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    Yangebup, Perth
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    I work almost exclusively in Jarrah and the jap saws have no drama with this at all. I've never broken a tooth. Or blunted the saw for that matter. Good luck to you with it. As for the throw away blade, they are fully recyclable.
    The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.

  9. #8
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    Dec 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by yowie View Post
    I work almost exclusively in Jarrah and the jap saws have no drama with this at all. I've never broken a tooth. Or blunted the saw for that matter. Good luck to you with it. As for the throw away blade, they are fully recyclable.

    I don't know anything about jap pull saws, but are they cross cut, rip, both or doesn't matter. I'm just starting to make more stuff by hand only, so I'm in the market for this kinda stuff also.

    Ta

  10. #9
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    Oct 2005
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    Mine are both cross cuts. They go through Jarrah like butter. I am pretty certain that they would make rip saws. Here is the link to carbatec.

    Japanese Handsaws : CARBA-TEC
    The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.

  11. #10
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    Jul 2007
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    Loire , France
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanW View Post

    As far as I can tell, they all use the same tooth pattern, with bigger or smaller teeth, but I may be dead wrong there (& will no doubt soon be put straight).
    That's right , you will-there are Japanese cross cut , rip AND mixed teeth patern Japanese saws , take a look here:

    Japanese Saws | DICTUM GmbH - More Than Tools

    They are definitely more suited to softer wood, and don't like our tougher varieties, much, so that could influence your decision. Their fatal flaw for me is that they are extremely difficult to sharpen, for the average punter, and the 'use & thow away' idea is one I find abhorrent.

    Cheers,
    You can find JS made for hard woods today , mostly for the Western market , but you are right , they are usualy made for softer timber - and I wouldn't even try to resharpen a JS , but found the broken blades to be very useful for making scrapers and even scratch stocks-like tools , with small pieces of the blade , for inlays

    Regards , Ivan

    P.S. Some months ago I visited the workshops of a French restoration firm, the kind of guys who do everything from 18th c. marquetry furniture to the carpentry of castles and cathedrals .....and guess what I saw in a half open tool box? - yes , they had Japanese saws
    It's a slow and painful process...the secret is, dont mind the pain.(Ian Norbury)
    ________________________
    Regards
    Ivan Chonov

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artesano View Post
    That's right , you will-there are Japanese cross cut , rip AND mixed teeth patern Japanese saws , take a look here:
    Thankyou, Artesano - I had a feeling as I was typing that that I would soon be made to look silly - and I was right!

    Quote Originally Posted by Artesano View Post
    P.S. Some months ago I visited the workshops of a French restoration firm, the kind of guys who do everything from 18th c. marquetry furniture to the carpentry of castles and cathedrals .....and guess what I saw in a half open tool box? - yes , they had Japanese saws
    As I said, some folks do love 'em, and in the right hands they are capable of fine work. Just not in mine...

    Cheers,
    IW

  13. #12
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    Jul 2007
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    Loire , France
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanW View Post
    Thankyou, Artesano - I had a feeling as I was typing that that I would soon be made to look silly - and I was right!
    No intention there to make anyone look silly , Ian . I understand that if you are used to push saws , and for years , pull saw will give you a strange feeling. For some reason , pulling the saw is very natural for me , and a good set of JS (not good enough to be a collection ...yet ) has found it's way to my toolbox I dont think I'll be buying western-style saw any soon...
    It's a slow and painful process...the secret is, dont mind the pain.(Ian Norbury)
    ________________________
    Regards
    Ivan Chonov

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artesano View Post
    No intention there to make anyone look silly , Ian . I understand that if you are used to push saws , and for years , pull saw will give you a strange feeling. For some reason , pulling the saw is very natural for me , and a good set of JS (not good enough to be a collection ...yet ) has found it's way to my toolbox I dont think I'll be buying western-style saw any soon...
    It's ok Artesano - it was silly of me to say something of which I was not at all sure. Your corrrection was very graceful.

    Pull saws seem to be making a bit of a comeback at the moment. They were all the go back in the 80s, everyone had to own at least a dozen to be considered a real woodworker. But they seemed to drop out of favour about the time Independance and the other 'boutique' saw makers started to become popular - may be pure co-incidence. As I've already said, my reasons for preferring push saws comes mostly from habit. In fact, I do use some 'pull' saws that I've made - a small keyhole saw, a flush-cutting saw, and another strange little thing I use for deepening the blade slot of saw handles. These have simple 'western' style teeth, of course, & all do their allotted jobs very well. And to show what a confused fellow I am, I usually fit coping saw blades to cut on the pull, and my small bowsaw, which is only marginaly larger, I always set to cut on the push stroke.

    It has long ago occurred to me that one could easily make conventional western saws cut on the pull stroke too, & I wonder why some ancestral sawyer decided our small saws would henceforth cut on the push stroke? Was it a conscious decision, for a cogent reason, or did it just 'happen'? I can think up at least two reasons why larger saws should cut on the push stroke - it's easier to put more power behind the stroke, and easier to keep the teeth engaged with the wood when you are cutting with the job horizontal, as they are mostly used. It's hard to come up with any truly defensible reason why small saws should go one way or t'other.

    But so many things in our world are done a particular way just because that's the way it's always been done. For a small number, there ARE better ways, but for many, it's 'six of one & half a dozen of the other'. One of these days we'll have to have a long discussion over a nice bottle of something. I find the solution to the great mysteries of life lie somewhere near the bottom of the bottle. Only problem is, I can never remember what the question was, let alone the answer, next morning.........

    Avagooday,
    IW

  15. #14
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    Ian

    I can hear the brain cells turning over from where I am sitting, & suspect there may be a western style pull saw appearing some time soon, or perhaps a backsaw with a handle on each end to suit the mood of the moment

    Regards

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basilg View Post
    Ian

    I can hear the brain cells turning over from where I am sitting, & suspect there may be a western style pull saw appearing some time soon, or perhaps a backsaw with a handle on each end to suit the mood of the moment

    Regards
    Bas - have no doubt I have thought quite seriously about it! I had a Japanese saw for quite a while, & tried hard to like it. One of the things I just could not get my conservative brain to accept was that handle, so I was plannong to fit it with a pistol type handle, but before that happened, I broke a couple of teeth (on the saw, that is), so that project got shelved & hasn't surfaced since. I decided some time ago I would cruise to the finish line with "western" style saws.

    I never dreamt that making the darn things was on the horizon.
    Ah well, all's well that ends......

    Cheers,

    PS. Somewhere, I have seen a pull saw fitted with a pistol handle, but can't remember where - there must be lots of galoots who've done it?
    IW

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