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Thread: Dovetail Saws

  1. #1
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    Default Dovetail Saws

    i'm in the market for a dovetail saw (rip toothed) and have been making comparisons of what's out there. At the top end are the well known brands such as Lie Nielsen, Veritas and some of the lesser well known such as Bad Axe and Florip out of the US all of who are outside my price range (the pension doesn't stretch that far!).
    Further down the scale price wise is the Pax by Thomas Flinn which is also not cheap but I noticed on the Flinn-Garlick website that they do a range of saws under the brand name Lynx Garlick at a price that's nearer my budget.
    Does anyone have any experience of this brand? They are about half the cost of the comparable Pax by the same company.
    Any guidance would be appreciated before I jump in.
    Cheers,
    Pete

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  3. #2
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    Hi Pete,

    What kind of price have you been quoted by Eric Florip? I remember seeing him offering his saws at around $US100. Is that out of your price range? I am of the belief that what he is currently offering may be the best value on a dovetail saw which is currently available.

    I've not used the Lynx saw, but from what I can see on the website, that does not appear to be a very high quality saw. It looks closer to the shape of something you'd get at a hardware store like Bunnings (or the NZ equivalent). A more "serious" dovetail saw is longer and more narrow which results in the ability to saw faster (a longer stroke) with more precision due to the more narrow plate. Open handles are also more common on higher end dovetail saws because they result in a more balanced feel.

    What you're looking at is the kind of thing that you will likely grow out of, so I always suggest people "buy it nice or buy it twice". I think for the difference in price of a Florip, you'll get a lot more for your money and won't be looking for an upgrade in a year or two time.

    Another option is of course the vintage market, but I don't know what is available to you in NZ. If you come across something on USA eBay, I may be able to help you out either by restoring it and posting it for you or just posting it if you have problems finding a seller who will do that.

    Good luck. Hopefully that helps some.

    Luke

  4. #3
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    Pete

    The only one of the saws mentioned that I have tried is the Lie Nielsen and it was a beauty. Checking their website they have two versions: One with a .015" plate and the other with a .020" plate. I don't know which one I tried as it belonged to another Forum member. The cost of either is US$125. Landed in NZ I would expect double that with the exchange rate, shipping and probably GST.

    I have just checked the Oz site and it looks to be $239 plus shipping.

    You could also keep your eyes peeled for a good vintage saw. The difference between a dovetail saw and a tenon saw is often down to the plate thickness. You can chose also between the open handle style and the Gents type.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  5. #4
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    Yeah, it's pretty hard when you don't have the readies. Although you may get some feedback from an owner of a Lynx saw here I suspect you'd be better off posting on a UK based forum. I think Paul (Bushmiller) is pointing you in the right direction when he suggested a vintage tenon or dovetail saw. Something of between 12 and 16 PPI would be a suitable starter. Haunt the local markets and garage sales for a few weeks. When it comes to sharpening saws you can't beat Paul Sellers video's.
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  6. #5
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    Default Dovetail Saws

    Thanks for the comments, Guys.
    Luke, you're right! I'm always telling my kids/grandkids that you usually only get what you pay for and here's me ignoring my own advice. The Florip saw with a cherry handle is US$115 so about NZ$180 plus shipping. I should really just bite the bullet and save a little longer. Thanks also for the offer to sharpen and ship if I can find a used saw in the US. I'll keep that in mind.

    Thanks also Paul and aldav. I did look at a Gents type saw and can get one by Two Cherries (Kirschen) locally and at a good price. Having just bought one of their chisels which impressed me, I was keen at first but really want a pistol style handle which sadly they don't do. The reason I feel that way is that I have been cutting dovetails with a Japanese rip saw and find that a straight handle doesn't give me a feel for the angles involved in dovetails. Having said that and before the afficionados jump on me from a great height I do use my Japanese saws almost exclusively elsewhere.
    Unfortunately, the used tool market is very small here in NZ and I haven't been able to find anything suitable.

    Thanks again for the useful comments and I will post whatever I finally decide on.
    Cheers,
    Pete

  7. #6
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    The reason I feel that way is that I have been cutting dovetails with a Japanese rip saw and find that a straight handle doesn't give me a feel for the angles involved in dovetails ... I do use my Japanese saws almost exclusively elsewhere.
    Pete, then there is a simple cure for this. It is not the handle that determines the angle at which you saw. It is the sight lines you use.

    On all occasions, saw to two lines simultaneously, never one line alone. This will ensure that your saw cut goes exactly where it should ....

    Here the saw cuts are vertical for the pins, and I assume that you are referring to the angled tail cuts, but it does not make any difference. These are the photos I had.

    I may appear to start a saw cut on the horizontal ...



    ... but I am just kissing the line to create the merest kerf.

    Immediately I drop the saw to the near end and saw down and away simultaneously ...



    Only then does one straighten the saw and continue on the horizontal ...



    I do this whether using a push or pull saw.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodhutt View Post
    ....... I have been cutting dovetails with a Japanese rip saw and find that a straight handle doesn't give me a feel for the angles involved in dovetails. Having said that and before the afficionados jump on me from a great height I do use my Japanese saws almost exclusively elsewhere.
    Pete, I don't get on with 'pull' saws, but I certainly wouldn't castigate anyone for either using or not using them. To each his own, some swear by them, some swear at them, & viva la difference, I say!

    If you like Japanese saws, have you ever thought of putting a 'pistol' handle on a Jap. saw blade? It wouldn't be all that difficult, but no idea what it would feel like.

    My go-to D/T saw for the last decade or so has been one I made, but before that I used an 8 inch, 15tpi Tyzack for about 20 years. It came with a horrible 'industrial' handle, so I took that off, found a scrap of Black Walnut, & made a new one: Original replacement.jpg

    That was my first ever saw handle & a bit crude, but it was a heck of a lot nicer in the hand than the original!

    Now I'm a bit of an old curmudgeon, but I don't think you really get all you pay for with saws, the law of diminishing returns applies in spades. Hand-made, boutique saws cost more mostly because they involve a lot of hand work, & that ain't cheap, but the difference between a high end saw and a cheapie isn't in the metal - I'll bet London to a brick you'd not be able to pick any difference between them in performance, if both were properly sharpened. The high-end saws look a bit more flash & come with handles you can live with, but after the first sharpening, they are all the same, functionally. A poorly-sharpened saw, no matter what it cost, will be a poor saw, and a well-sharpened saw should cut well regardless of the bit of wood or plastic stuck on one end.

    Thin D/T saws have been in fashion for quite a few years now, but tbh, 20 or even 25 thou plate is fine. Contrary to urban myth, thin-plate saws don't cut any quicker; the thicker the saw, the more effort it takes to cut the same depth per stroke, that's all. The difference in effort required for a 15 thou & a 20 thou plate saw is so small you wouldn't detect it in normal use. My favoured D/T saw happens to be 15 thou, but I wouldn't lend it to a novice - it would be too easily damaged if treated roughly.

    If you do shoot for a boutique saw, you will/should get something that will work well out of he box, but as I said, how well it continues to work is highly dependent on your sharpening skill (or your local saw-doc's, if such folk still exist in your area!)....

    Cheers,
    IW

  9. #8
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    Pete,

    If you are cash poor but time rich, I started a thread here a couple of months ago where I re-purposed a cheep hardware shop tenon saw for the cost of a single triangle file. Reducing the set on my tenon saw (and becoming a butcher)

    It was a great learning experience, and now have a saw that is outstanding to use. Another option to consider, and honestly, it was way easier than I expected.

    Kind regards,
    Lance

  10. #9
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    Default Dovetail Saw

    Derek, thanks for the tips and photos. I obviously need to develop my technique as a first time dovetailer Your advice will be very useful!
    Ian and Lance your posts got me thinking (I sometimes do that despite what SWMBO says). I have a 10" Pax brass-backed tenon saw with 15 tpi arranged for cross cutting. It gets little or no use now I have the Japanese saws.
    Would it be possible to doctor this to a rip tooth pattern as a dovetail saw? Is it something I could/should tackle myself?
    Your thoughts would be appreciated.
    Cheers,
    Pete

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodhutt View Post
    Would it be possible to doctor this to a rip tooth pattern as a dovetail saw? Is it something I could/should tackle myself?
    You can certainly change that saw to rip cut. Have a look at these two videos -
    YouTube
    YouTube

    In the first video he takes a new 'combination' handsaw with crosscut pattern and very quickly turns it in to a dedicated rip saw. In the second he demonstrates the dramatic improvement that can be made in a saw with very little effort.
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  12. #11
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    Pete, a couple of points ...

    The Pax saw is very easy to re-file to rip .... for someone who is experienced in doing this. As a newbie to this, you are likely to cock it up and destroy the saw. I have re-filed plates a number of times, - indeed, I plan to do this either today or next week (no one seems interested in the variable-tooth gent saw I have in the For Sale forum, so will re-file it 16 ppi). The only thing that bothers me is that I must set aside the time to do this, which involves removing the teeth, hand filing in new ones, and setting the teeth.

    You can watch videos till the cows come home, and think that you know what to do, but it will take a few saws before you master the technique. So, donít go there unless you are prepared for the journey.

    Pete, it sounded like you are accomplished with Japanese saws, and so you should first practice the technique I mentioned above. Do this, and report back your experience. What if it cures all, that you suddenly discover you can saw to the line as you have wanted to do? Will you still want a Western saw?

    I love new tools - ask anyone here - but rarely does a new tool cure a technique issue, which yours is.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  13. #12
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    Derek is correct in saying that you'll be unlikely to get your saw perfect on your first try at filing, but since you don't need to change the pitch, it's not as taxing a job as removing existing teeth & filing in completely new ones - that does take a few goes to get right! All you need do is remove the fleam to convert your Pax to rip, i.e., file the teeth straight across - it's about the easiest job there is when it comes to saw-filing. Get the correct size file, set it in a decent vise (there are dozens of designs for simple saw vises available on line) and count your strokes - it will take no more than two or three firm strokes to remove the fleam. Then set it, and put it back in your saw vise & give each tooth one or two light strokes. Job done. I think it's worthwhile giving it a go, it has been said that even a poorly-sharpened saw is better than a dull one, & I agree with that. If you really screw it up, no worries, it can be fixed by someone who knows what hey are doing with nothing more than the loss of 0.5mm of your saw width.

    It's well worth while learning to sharpen your saws, I reckon, the world is too full of dull saws & frustrated sawyers. People who would sharpen a dull chisel or plane blade instantly, persist in forcing dull saws - the poor things need attention just as much as any other edge tool. The way a sharp & properly-set saw cuts is a revelation to many.

    OTH, if you just want to make stuff & don't want the bother of learning to sharpen saws, go with the Japanese saws & practice Derek's techniques. For a lot less money, you get a very good saw. But they too, go dull with use & sharpening one of those things (the ones with sharpenable teeth, that is, not the ones with hardened teeth that defy a file), is beyond my skills....

    Cheers,
    IW

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