Two years ago, my (wood) hand tool collection could easily fit into a milk crate. And while my current collection is still not large or impressive, I have accumulated quite a bit of stuff. I really like vintage tools and about 1/3 of my collection was manufactured before I was born (1976). I usually shy away from fixer uppers, though. I try to find mint condition, new-old-stock, or nicely restored items that I can put straight to work.
Most of my new tools are on the low end of the price sprectrum. Thats not entirely by design though. Many times I discovered the need for a new tool, I needed it quickly. Using an internet source wasn’t practical, and the nearest woodworking shop is 45 min away. That said, Sears, Lowes, and Home Depot have been my main source. While some of these tools have proved to be plenty adequete, I look forward to replacing others with someting a little bit nicer.
Anyway, I figured I’d start this series off with handsaws since I have come to enjoy using them so much.
OK, so none of these are actually all that old. The oldest being the 26” panel saw. Its a Craftsman Kromedge 10pt crosscut. Basically new condition, defect free, and had recently been professionally (or at least skillfully) sharpened before I bought it. Cuts very nicely. I’m not sure I could find a modern saw that cuts any better. I’d buy another right now if I could find one. Only complaint is that the handle is made from some kind of laminated ply product, rather than a nice hardwood. But the handle feels good in my hand and has survived 50+ years, so I guess its cool. Best info I have indicates it was made in the 50s or 60s.
I bought this saw, along with the others in the picture, for $5 each. I was buying a vintage grinder/pedestal I found on craigslist. Turned out that the seller was liquidating an amatuer woodworking shop of a deceased relative. Hundreds of NICE hand tools being sold off cheap. Unfortunately, I only had $40 on top of the cash I brought with me for the grinder. Lots of good loot slipped past me that day. LOL.
The 12” backsaw on the far left of the picture is a newer Disston (Danville, VA) crosscut 15 TPI. Its also in really nice shape, freshly sharpened. I haven’t used this saw very much since I bought it, but it works well enough. If I ever hand cut a bunch of M&T joints, I could see myself using it for the shoulders.
The other 12” backsaw is a Tyzack No 120. 14 TPI crosscut. Very similar to the Disston, except the Tyzack has a bit less set and is a more refined tool overall. Better feel and balance. Perhaps due to the brass spine?
And lastly, an 8” Tyzack 120 dovetail saw. Same product line as the 12”. I believe its 20tpi. In any case its also a nice tool. I’ve used it several times to make touchy-finnicky cuts for some marking tools I made a couple months ago. Leaves a very smooth surface, yet still manages to cut with chainsaw speed.
I don’t know much about Tyzack tools. My limited research indicates they are no longer making saws. Too bad, as the saws I have are fantastic. I’ve read that Tyzacks latest saws were being sold in Woodcraft stores in the early 1990s for around $100. Who knows? I know they were definitely worth the $5 I paid for them.
None of the saws I have purchased new could be described as “premium”. All were aquired on-the-spot as they were needed. I think the most expensive was the Vaughn brand Ryoba “Bear Saw” I bought at Lowes for $20. I needed a saw to undercut some door jams for a flooring project. I was really blown away by its performance. It worked perfectly for the door jams, but has also worked well for the dozens of other tasks I’ve used it on since. Its the swiss army knife of saws in my opinion. One of those tools that should be in every garage. Cheap enough to sacrifice on a utility project, but is capable of making fine cuts too at a resepectable level. Only after two years of abuse does it need a new blade. of course a new blade is only $2-3 less than buying the whole saw. Go figure.
And speaking of cheap, well perfroming, Japanese saws; I should bring up the “rapid pull saw” by everyone’s favorite retailer – Harbor Freight. The saw in the picture is actually a replacement for the same saw I recently kinked. In all fairness, i beat the ever-living hell out of the tool and it just kept working. It was the saw that simply wouldn’t die LOL. I was cutting large limbs off of some local Cedar trees when the blade got kinked. Even then, it still cut fairly well. At $6.99, no big loss. I use this saw for all sorts of stuff. Cuts really fast and is easy to control. A good saw to keep in a tool box.
The 15” Sheffield toolbox saw was bought a long time ago when I needed to frame a wall for my third son’s room. Not much to report here. It cuts 2×4s just fine.
The remaining two saws are both Craftsman. The coping saw was bought for a baseboard/chair rail project where I needed to “cope” a few joints. The saw was $5 and a pack of replacement blades was $4. I don’t know a whole lot about coping saws, and this is the only one I’ve ever used. Seemed OK to me. I could of paid twice as much for another brand, but I’m not sure how it could have worked any better. A pretty simple tool, and the craftsman worked well.
The craftsman dovetail saw, on the other hand, failed to win my favor. First off, the website listed this saw as 11tpi, but the saw’s package says “15 tpi”, but the etching on the blade says “16tpi”. Really screams of quality when the manufacturer, marketers, and sellers can’t agree on a key specification. but for the record, the saw is actually 16tpi. Second, I had to pick through all the saws on the shelf to find one that didn’t have an obvious defect. Most had crooked blades or wildly inconsistent tooth heights. The one I bought was actually dead-straight and had visually decent teeth. The problem with this saw, in my opinion, is the excessive amount of set. This causes the craftsman to have an exaggerated kerf and leaves a rough edge in its wake. One of these days, I might try to reduce the set a bit. I’m betting it won’t be half-bad with a little work.
Anyway, thats it for now.