Pull saw with western handle, excellent value

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Review by wch posted 05-25-2010 07:26 AM 6915 views 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Pull saw with western handle, excellent value Pull saw with western handle, excellent value No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

This is a Japanese-style pull saw, but with a nontraditional design: it has a western-style handle, and a plastic reinforcing spine. It’s precise, has a very fine kerf (0.017”) and tracks straight, thanks to the spine. I find that it’s easier to cut straight with this saw, compared to other Japanese saws that I’ve used which don’t have a spine.

I first found out about this saw from a post on the Popular Woodworking blog. This saw is quite inexpensive (about $20), and has a replaceable blade. Oddly, Irwin doesn’t actually sell any replacement blades, but this saw appears almost identical to the Sharksaw Finecut saw, and those blades should fit, though they’re only a couple dollars less than a complete saw with handle. For the price, I don’t think you can beat this saw, if you’re looking for a precision backsaw.

I prefer this design to the Japanese dozuki (backsaw) with a straight handle, because it’s a bit more comfortable for the way I use the saw—the traditional Japanese way of sawing places the wood much lower than we do here in the west, and the straight handle seems to be designed for that. It’s also easier for me to control the vertical tracking of the saw with this kind of handle.

One thing that was a little annoying was that the blade rattled a little bit against the spine because it wasn’t a tight fit along the whole length of the spine. I fixed this by putting a little masking tape along the back of the blade—it can be seen sticking out a little bit in the photo above.

The picture should give you an idea of what the cuts look like. Bear in mind that the wood is douglas fir, which is a bit splintery, and that I’m not particularly skilled at sawing. You can see in the photo above that my cuts aren’t spaced quite right and that they aren’t quite parallel, but they are straight.

View wch's profile


45 posts in 3198 days

14 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3817 days

#1 posted 05-25-2010 07:43 AM

Thanks for the review

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18424 posts in 3915 days

#2 posted 05-25-2010 08:52 AM

Thanks for the tip

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3314 days

#3 posted 05-25-2010 01:37 PM

Good review. This is a good idea. I have a typical Japanese saw and the straight handle does not feel right to me.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3704 days

#4 posted 05-25-2010 03:19 PM

thanks for the review. I have their ryoba knock off and, while it works well, is more for rough work. I was curious about this one for more precise joinery. thanks for the masking tape trick.

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3888 days

#5 posted 05-25-2010 03:51 PM

good review.

FYI AaronK: ryoba is designed for rip cuts whereas the saw in this review is designed for cross cuts – and has a finer tooth count. actually this one is designed mostly for joinery – hence the back support to keep it true.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View wch's profile


45 posts in 3198 days

#6 posted 05-25-2010 06:04 PM

AaronK: I also have the Irwin/Marples ryoba. This backsaw has only a marginally smaller tooth pitch than the crosscut side of the ryoba (19 vs. 17 teeth per inch), but I do find it noticeably easier to control, vertically, and in terms of keeping in a straight line. Of course, it’s also harder to steer back if you go off the target line.

PurpLev: Ryobas generally have both rip and crosscut side. Actually, I think the only way to get an inexpensive rip saw in the US is to buy a ryoba!

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3704 days

#7 posted 05-25-2010 06:38 PM

Even the 17 tpi on the ryoba cuts really smoothly – but it IS tough to control, so it can be messy anyway. I think this’ll be my next hand tool purchase.

i’d like to see some more photos of work you’ve done with this – tenons or dovetails, for example.

View wch's profile


45 posts in 3198 days

#8 posted 05-25-2010 10:41 PM

AaronK: Sorry, I haven’t really done any joinery with it yet—I’ve mostly been using it for straight cuts. If you do get one and use it for that kind of work, let us know how it goes.

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3704 days

#9 posted 05-26-2010 12:46 AM

no prob… but dont hold your breath – just cuz I said “next” doesnt mean “soon” :-)

View JohnnyW's profile


83 posts in 3270 days

#10 posted 05-26-2010 07:42 AM

I have the slightly longer version without the spline and a coarser tooth pitch and was having some troubles getting doing shoulder cuts on tenons. The cuts were leaving a fine finish (even in cheap pine) but weren’t straight near the start; my technique at fault, not the saw, but it looks like this would help with that.

Thanks for the review, I’ve found it very useful.

-- John

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18424 posts in 3915 days

#11 posted 05-27-2010 02:55 AM

Thanks for the report

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View velo_tom's profile


123 posts in 3256 days

#12 posted 05-27-2010 01:04 PM

I’ve tried cutting joints with this saw and could not get it to track a line very well. The plastic spine did not hold the blade stiff enough. I then bought a Dozuki. The Dozuki’s straight handle took a bit of getting use to. I checked out some people using them to cut joints on YouTube and changed how I was holding the saw a bit and that seems to solve the problem. After using it a few times it starts feeling natural in the hands like any other hand tool.

-- There's no such thing as mistakes, just design changes.

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3962 days

#13 posted 05-27-2010 03:28 PM

I have this saw and the teeth are incredibly sharp. They angle in 3 directions and make very quick work of 8” or smaller limbs. It’s easy to use and very reasonably priced too.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Dakkar's profile


352 posts in 2167 days

#14 posted 02-18-2013 06:05 PM

Nice review. I’ve got a dovetail Sharksaw that I find myself using for practically everything small needing a handsaw. It looks like the Irwin versions of these tools are bit easier on the wallet. I also like the reinforcement on the back of the blade this one has. I may just pick one up soon.

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