Around the Shop #23: Lets compare and review a Wally331 and LN back saw

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Blog entry by Don W posted 242 days ago 1088 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 22: Walker Turner Lathe Restore. Fighting to the bitter end. Part 23 of Around the Shop series Part 24: Making room in the Shop »

Through wheeling and dealing and some horse trading, I wound up with a couple of nice back saws. As promised, a review and comparison.

The first is a Lie-Nielsen 10 tpi rip (top)
The second is this one. its 11 ppi crosscut (bottom)

Now I know its really not a fair comparison, they are two different saws, so think of it as more of a double review.

First, if you don’t know Wally331, you should read his profile.

Now on to the saws.

Both are very nice, but its easy to tell the LN is produced different. It has more of a mass produced look. Its not meant to be a negative comment, but Wally’s has a hand made feel.

I like the wood better in Wally’s although the cherry in the LN is nice, its just not as nice.

Next is the tote. The LN is square and could use some rounding to be more comfortable, or at least as comfortable as Wally’s. The LN is not uncomfortable, but you can feel the difference.

Both have a decent 3 finger hold for my hand.

Also the angle of attach is different, and it makes Wally’s just a little more comfortable.

They both cut superb. Obviously different since one is a rip and the other a crosscut, but I would put them equal as to sharp.

I did test cuts in poplar, oak and ash. I made both cross cuts and rips. All went extremely well.

I also like the hand made nuts Wally used. To some this may be a negative, but as a guy who make tools by hand, I am very impressed.

I should note when I got Wally’s saw the handle was loose. The wood had dried in transit. definitely not Wally’s fault and a little shim material did the trick.

Wally’s saw could use a little more set. He told me it may need a little more, and it could use it, but for a first saw, I am beyond impressed with it. I will add a little set the first time I have to sharpen it. I doubt that will be soon.

All in all I would give both saws a high rating. They both perform superbly.

But I have one huge dilemma. The woodworker in me wants to hang Wally’s saw in the shop and use the crap out of it, it’s just that nice. The collector in my however wants to make a display case and hang it with my collector planes. Who know what the very first saw of Wally331 will be worth in 20 years, should he follow his calling and become the next LN.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

13 comments so far

View CL810's profile


1967 posts in 1620 days

#1 posted 242 days ago

Very thorough review Don. Wally is off to a great start!

-- "It's amazing how much can go wrong when you think you know what you're doing."

View Brit's profile


5125 posts in 1475 days

#2 posted 242 days ago

Go Wally!

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View summerfi's profile


981 posts in 319 days

#3 posted 242 days ago

You’re a lucky guy, Don, to have Wally Saw serial number 001. That’s as good as a retirement plan. :-)

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Of all the tools I own, my favorite is a good sharp pocket knife. - My Dad

View Don W's profile

Don W

14877 posts in 1199 days

#4 posted 242 days ago

That’s good Bob, I was just telling Joe I needed a retirement plan.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View HerbC's profile


1162 posts in 1491 days

#5 posted 242 days ago

So, I thought you had invested your retirement funds in Stanley Planes…

I feel much better knowing you’ve decided to diversify and add Wall331 to your portfolio.

Beautiful saws.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View terryR's profile


3046 posts in 940 days

#6 posted 242 days ago

Excellent review, Don! +1 on the shop made split nuts showing more dedication to the tool.

I own 2 LN saws, and agree that the totes are squarish and lack the appeal of a hand made tool. They are not uncomfortable…just sterile IMO.

Cannot wait till my name comes up on Wally’s waiting list! :)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View AnthonyReed's profile (online now)


4572 posts in 1072 days

#7 posted 242 days ago

Great to hear. Wally is off the blocks making terrific strides, that is wonderful.

Thanks for sharing Don.

-- ~Tony

View Slyy's profile


1091 posts in 287 days

#8 posted 241 days ago

Sounds like the Wally is a winner by any measure! Excellent review!

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View BigRedKnothead's profile


4743 posts in 614 days

#9 posted 241 days ago

Thanks for the review Don. Can’t wait to try one myself.

Btw, LN uses curly maple on their saw handles, not cherry. I know, I’m a pain in the butt;-)

-- Red -- "That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." W. Whitman

View Don W's profile

Don W

14877 posts in 1199 days

#10 posted 241 days ago

Now I need to take a closer look Red. And here I was hoping it would darken with age.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Mauricio's profile (online now)


6806 posts in 1783 days

#11 posted 241 days ago

Damn, look at the skills on Wally! Great saw!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View BigRedKnothead's profile


4743 posts in 614 days

#12 posted 241 days ago

Ya Don, LN says they use curly maple on their website. Only reason I know is because I was curious when I got my LN dovetail saw. I’d never seen curly cherry like that.
Anyway, wonder if they use shellac or something to get the amber color.

-- Red -- "That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." W. Whitman

View mafe's profile


9491 posts in 1721 days

#13 posted 235 days ago

Fine review Don.
From looking I also love the handmade one the best.
Best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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