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Is my Dovetail Saw Too Sharp?

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Forum topic by esmthin posted 12-01-2015 06:19 PM 1140 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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esmthin

77 posts in 642 days


12-01-2015 06:19 PM

I’ve been cutting some dovetails for drawers lately and having some trouble starting my saw. I have to take a backstroke before I can push forward. The teeth tend to sink into the wood, making it hard to push. I’ve read and seen online that you should be able to just start by pushing. The saw is a Lie-Nielsen Thin Plate Tapered DT saw, I’ve only used the saw for about 5 sets of dovetails, and I’m using poplar. I have this theory that the saw may be too sharp. Is that crazy or is there some merit to it? Will the saw work better after a little wear on the teeth?

-- Ethan, https://instagram.com/ethan_woodworker/


19 replies so far

View Ub1chris's profile

Ub1chris

85 posts in 841 days


#1 posted 12-01-2015 06:25 PM

I’ve always started my cuts on the pull and had no problems. Maybe pushing down too hard while pulling?

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chrisstef

15658 posts in 2467 days


#2 posted 12-01-2015 06:26 PM

Ive heard of a lot of guys having trouble starting that saw. I believe that its the way it has been filed. If memory serves me correct it has 0 degrees of rake. Easing the rake on the first inch or two has seemed to help others out.

Basically what I’m saying is that the teeth have a 90 degree leading edge which makes it hard to start but once established it flies through wood like butter. If you have the ability to refile the first 20 teeth id go for that. If you don’t, a super light hand will help out in getting it started.

-- rock, chalk, jayhawk

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esmthin

77 posts in 642 days


#3 posted 12-01-2015 06:27 PM



I ve always started my cuts on the pull and had no problems. Maybe pushing down too hard while pulling?

- Ub1chris


The saw gets stuck when I start the push and I don’t put any downward pressure, just the weight of the saw.

-- Ethan, https://instagram.com/ethan_woodworker/

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13713 posts in 2079 days


#4 posted 12-01-2015 06:28 PM

Nibble, nibble, nibble to start a cut.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View carguy460's profile

carguy460

800 posts in 1796 days


#5 posted 12-01-2015 06:52 PM

I had a similar experience with my LN saw when I first got it, but I learned that it was my technique or lack thereof… Someone gave me the advice to do as Smitty says, nibble nibble nibble, and actually take a bit of the saw weight off when starting the cut…ended up working well for me!

-- Jason K

View sheetzy's profile

sheetzy

141 posts in 1620 days


#6 posted 12-01-2015 11:09 PM

GET YOUSELF A JAPANEESE SAW CALLED A DOZUKI ITS SHARP AS A RAZOR AND CUTS ON THE PULL. YOU WILL LOVE IT. IVE CUT A MILLION DOVE TAILS WITH IT.

-- Sheetzy

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summerfi

3315 posts in 1148 days


#7 posted 12-02-2015 01:14 AM

A saw can never be too sharp. Two things can make a saw hard to start. As Stef said, rake angle has a big influence. A rip saw should have a rake angle of 5 to 8 degrees. If your saw has less than 5 degrees, re-filing it will make it easier to start.

The other factor is hang angle. This is the angle formed by the handle grip and the toothline. When you push on a saw handle, the force is perpendicular to the grip. A lower hang angle puts more of the force forward. I higher hang angle puts more of the force downward. In looking at a picture of your saw, the hang angle appears to be around 45 degrees. This puts equal force forward and downward, making the saw hard to start. Disston backsaws have a hang angle of 35 degrees. Many old British backsaws have an even lower hang angle.

You can easily change the rake angle on your saw, but there’s nothing you can do about the hang angle short of making a new handle. Focusing on trying to direct the saw blade more in a forward direction than a downward direction may help. As others have said, starting with a backstroke, light pressure, and short nibbling strokes may also help.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works http://www.rmsaws.com/p/about-us.html

View calisdad's profile

calisdad

285 posts in 970 days


#8 posted 12-02-2015 03:21 AM

Sheetzy nailed it. Once you use a Japanese hand saw you will never go back.

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TheFridge

5764 posts in 947 days


#9 posted 12-02-2015 03:40 AM

Have the same saw. Love it. Back stroke it and don’t put a just weight on the first push stroke and it’s like butta after that.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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esmthin

77 posts in 642 days


#10 posted 12-02-2015 03:59 AM

So the consensus is that it’s okay to backstroke to start the cut. I remember hearing somewhere that it isn’t good for the teeth, is that true?

-- Ethan, https://instagram.com/ethan_woodworker/

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TheFridge

5764 posts in 947 days


#11 posted 12-02-2015 04:05 AM

Maybe on cement :)

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View esmthin's profile

esmthin

77 posts in 642 days


#12 posted 12-02-2015 04:08 AM



Maybe on cement :)

- TheFridge


Yikes, I think you just gave me nightmares…

-- Ethan, https://instagram.com/ethan_woodworker/

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13713 posts in 2079 days


#13 posted 12-02-2015 04:12 AM

View widdle's profile

widdle

2057 posts in 2459 days


#14 posted 12-02-2015 04:32 AM

Consider letting go of the saw, like holding a butterfly….and like summerfi mentioned, more of a soft push, more from the lower palm of your hand, behind the pinky..almost trying to take some weight off the weight of just the saw..

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esmthin

77 posts in 642 days


#15 posted 12-02-2015 04:40 AM



Consider letting go of the saw, like holding a butterfly….and like summerfi mentioned, more of a soft push, more from the lower palm of your hand, behind the pinky..almost trying to take some weight off the weight of just the saw..

- widdle


I try to do that. I like the Schwarz’s metaphor of holding it like a bird, you don’t want to crush it, but you also don’t want to let it go.

-- Ethan, https://instagram.com/ethan_woodworker/

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