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This Japanese Saw "Pulls" Its Weight

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Review by Eric posted 2349 days ago 11081 views 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
This Japanese Saw "Pulls" Its Weight This Japanese Saw "Pulls" Its Weight No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I just got my very first Japanese handsaw the other day, and have really enjoyed breaking it in. I thought I’d just give you this review via some bullet points. Just know that my handsaw experience to date is a cheap Stanley crosscut saw (like any guy would own) and a Crown gent’s saw.

Pros:
  • Because the saw cuts on the pull stroke, I found it extremely easy to start a cut with zero downward pressure.
  • The saw cuts fast and does not require a lot of elbow grease to keep it going.
  • The blade can be adjusted to be at a slight angle to the handle, which will allow for working at the occasional awkward angle.
  • The double edge lets me rip and do cross cuts just as easily. I found it kind of tiring ripping and resawing with my little gent’s saw.
  • The saw cuts clean. I mean clean. In case the picture I’m attaching does not give you the full size option, click here for a full screen version of a comparison of how my three saws cut. If you can cut straight, you probably wouldn’t even need to plane it.
  • It looks freakin’ cool, man. And if we ever have an intruder in the house, I’m going right past the kitchen knives and heading for this puppy.
Cons:
  • Since the saw is double-edged, it bends fairly easily. This requires greater concentration when sawing in order to keep the blade moving in a perfectly straight line.
  • Because the blade gets wider as it moves away from the handle, you cannot use the back of the blade as a crude level. You need to more closely monitor how far down you’re cutting on the other side (dovetails, for example).
  • The teeth are more fragile, since only the tips are treated. From what I’ve heard, this makes the saw stay sharp longer, but also means that the teeth are more succeptible to breaking. No personal experience on that yet, but it’s made me extra gentle with it.
  • While you can sharpen it, most people advise against it, so you would have to buy a replacement blade. They only cost about $20, so no big deal I guess. A possible plus is if other Japanese blades (with different TPI for example) fit into my handle, which I haven’t checked on.

I got mine from The Japan Woodworker (via Amazon – I had a gift card) for about $35.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com




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Eric

873 posts in 2382 days



14 comments so far

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FrankA

139 posts in 2377 days


#1 posted 2349 days ago

I have been wanting to take the leap ang get a Japanese handsaw but was not sure which one.
I think you have talked me into giving this one a try.
Thanks for the great review.

-- Frank Auge---Nichols NY----"My opinion is neither copyrighted nor trademarked, but it is price competitive."

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Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2420 days


#2 posted 2349 days ago

This is a nice saw and a good review. I would be interested in seeing how it works on dovetails.

thanks for the review.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2382 days


#3 posted 2349 days ago

I think that maybe a dozuki saw would be better for dovetails, since it has a hardened back. But since I’m going for “bang for the buck”, I couldn’t turn down a combo crosscut/rip saw.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View scottb's profile

scottb

3647 posts in 2925 days


#4 posted 2349 days ago

I’ve gone through a few pull saws over the years. LOVE EM! I think they are worth their weight in gold – having enabled me to do things I couldn’t have done otherwise. I only wish the ones you can buy at the Big Box stores, also sold the replacement blades!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2587 days


#5 posted 2349 days ago

I just got a doubel sided saw a few months ago. I think it;s great,

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View 's profile

593 posts in 2571 days


#6 posted 2349 days ago

Can’t help but jump on the thread.

Eric, japanese saws have to be handled with smooth hands. NEVER try to force the cut, you’ll break them. You just have to guide them in a straight line end let them “flow” over the wood, their extremely sharp and hard teeth will to all the work. This is specially true on the movement back to the starting position (the pushing one). That amazingly thin kerf comes at a price and this is it, just be gentle and don’t rush things.

I agree regarding the smoothness of the cut, they are wonderful tools. And yes, you can fit many different blades on your handle, depending on the brand. I can provide you with them if you need it.

You are also right when you say that a ”dozuki” works best for dovetails, even better, a small one.

PS: Don’t try to sharpen them, it’s not worth the hassle. How much do you value your time? I don’t know but it’s a crazy thing and you’ll end up taken away buy the guys in the white coats. Here, even the pros just throw the blades away and get new ones. And by the way you’ll see that they last really longtime.

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Eric

873 posts in 2382 days


#7 posted 2348 days ago

Thanks for the additional comments, Jojo – appreciate your words of wisdom and experience.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

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tenontim

2131 posts in 2343 days


#8 posted 2340 days ago

I’ve been using the Japanese saws for years. I don’t even know if I could use a push saw again. They come in all the necessary flavors- tenon, dovetail, etc. If you’re not trying to cut logs in half, buy the ones that have a back on them. It stiffens them up quite a bit. I have a couple of the double sided saws, but I use them mostly for rough cut off or carpentry work. They take a little getting use to, but are really nice for fine work. Jojo is right about sharpening. They have 3 bevels on each tooth. Try the Japan woodworker for some good cheap saws. They also have really expensive ones, if you win the lotto:]

View gko's profile

gko

77 posts in 1843 days


#9 posted 1843 days ago

I’ve just gotten into Japanese tools from Hida Tools and find them terrific. I have the Gyokucho Ryoba #651 (double edge) and the Dozuki #306 (dovetail). The Ryoba is terrific for general construction. Its fast, you can cut a really straight clean line. Just retrimmed a whole house and did three rooms with my power miter saw. Then took out my Japanese saws and found the miters were cleaner and I finished the rooms faster then with the power saw.

The Dozuki cuts really clean. I did a set of dovetails and there is quite a difference between the two with the dozuki cutting much smoother and because of the ridged back spline there is less skewing. With the dozuki the cut looked like I sanded the cut and I was able to control the cut so I could cut it either on the line or extremely near it for no or minimal final chiseling to clean things up.

Some hints – the right hand should be at the very end of the handle and should be only used as the guide unless you have to cut one handed. When the hand is near the blade as in push western saws a slight angle mess produces a large angle mess. Its the reason why the handle on pull saws are so long, you can skew the cut slightly and it doesn’t show up in the cut. For really straight cuts pull with the body and not the arm, should feel like the arm is just a rope pulling the saw. Left hand adds downward pressure or reverse it if you are left handed.

-- Wood Menehune, Honolulu

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sIKE

1271 posts in 2352 days


#10 posted 1843 days ago

Thanks for the info!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Occie gilliam's profile

Occie gilliam

505 posts in 1895 days


#11 posted 1843 days ago

Welcome to LumberJocks
Thanks for the info

-- OC down in Costa Rica. come down and see me some time. I'll keep the light on for you too-oc@hotmail.com mail.com

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a1Jim

111999 posts in 2176 days


#12 posted 1843 days ago

cutting edge review

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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rimfire7891

123 posts in 1501 days


#13 posted 1432 days ago

Great Saws,
Bought my first one at the Whole Earth Store in Berkeley In 1989
Have bought many since from Japan Woodworker in Alameda. They just plain work. I recycle the blades from one handle to another so I always have a fresher blade for more precision work and us the older/more used, blade with a tooth or two missing for rough work. Sure gets some funny looks from people who haven’t seen one before. More common now but 20 years ago they where definitely a bit rare. These saws will do things that you can’t or is very difficult to do with any other saw. These are definitely in my top 10 best wood working tools.
If you buy one, buy half a dozen blades at the same time. Great for cutting PVC ,styrofoam 2x spruce, plywood and a hundred other things. If I could have only one hand saw this would be it.
The other great thing it does is gets you brain to work in reverse, so it makes always inverting, when thinking easier.

Thanks jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

View John's profile

John

341 posts in 2396 days


#14 posted 856 days ago

i’ve had this saw for many years and never even touched it – can’t recall for the life of me why i bought it – then at lunch today i had to put steel to wood to give me a break from the day job – I pulled this off the pegboard and hand cut a tenon (my first hand cut tenon mind you) and I LOVE IT! and now after reading this review and the advice above, i can probably get a lot more out of it – thanks!

-- John - Central PA - http://affyx.wordpress.com

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