|Review by paxorion||posted 02-25-2014 08:40 PM||2114 views||0 times favorited||2 comments|
This past summer, I had to repair some molding along the exterior of a bay window. Given that it was a very small number of molding cuts to repair, I opted to get a plastic miter box and backsaw to do the work rather than pull out a power miter saw. I saw it not so much as an additional expense, but rather a chance to get some handsaw sharpening experience. My criteria was to find a cheap handsaw that I wouldn’t feel bad ruining by experimenting with sharpening. After playing with a few ~$10 options, I found the Kobalt handle to be my favorite and picked this one up.
Overall performance (when the saw has freshly sharpened teeth) has been great. I’ve cut a huge variety of different materials from domestic hardwoods (white oak, cherry, hard/soft maple, walnut, poplar), softwoods (pine), and composite (PVC trim) material and haven’t really had to work hard to get the cut nice and clean. If you let the saw do the work, it just glides right through the material.
Where things take a turn to the negative, has to do with edge retention. While I am beginning to suspect that poor technique is part of the problem early on (I was pushing down and forcing the teeth into the material), I find that the teeth dull very quickly, likely because of softer steel being used for the blade. After adjusting my technique, I found that the cuts went a lot more smoothly, but still began dulling after 30×1.5”-3” x 0.5”-1” cuts through hardwood. In addition, composite materials, such as the PVC trim and the plastic miter box really messes up the cutting edge of the teeth. So far, I’ve only used the saw for “one-off” cuts and no serious projects. It’s not like it takes a long time to sharpen the saw, but having to stop to sharpen mid-project isn’t really a good for long-term use.
So the bottom line? A bit hard to really say. I gave it a 3 star rating because for the price, what do you expect? It sharpens to a nice cutting edge, and it slices through some pretty tough stuff (white oak and hard maple). And given that my goal was to have a saw to use on “one-off” cuts while also serving as a sacrificial tool for sharpening experience, I definitely have a saw that is serviceable. For anyone who has the same criteria as me, this big box saw would certainly fit the bill. But if you’re looking to get into hand tools, keep looking.