Which hand saws?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 05-04-2011 05:23 PM 2723 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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660 posts in 2711 days

05-04-2011 05:23 PM

What types of hand saws do I need to start hand-tool woodworking? I know that I will need a dovetail saw, a rip saw, a cross-cut saw, and coping saw (most of which I have), but what about other saws like back saws, tenon saws, and panel saws? What do I need to get started, and which saws can I wait to acquire later?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

7 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2721 days

#1 posted 05-04-2011 05:30 PM

I guess it depends whether you like Western or Japanese saws. It sounds like you have a pretty good complement already.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 3060 days

#2 posted 05-04-2011 05:36 PM

You don’t need anything more than you have to get started. If you are doing something that needs a saw (or for that matter any tool) you do not have, that is when you buy it. You definitely do not need a complete complement of every tool to start. It is also more economical to buy tools as you have specific needs for them. It creates a very usable tool collection that acquires very little dust.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2909 days

#3 posted 05-04-2011 06:38 PM

More important then what saws you should have I would suggest you start learning how to file and sharpen the saws. I am actually learning this now myself and have all ready ruined a few saws :)

Being able to sharpen a handsaw seems like its a lost art as many if not most woodworkers don’t know how to do it. That is one of the reasons I am inspired to learn how to do it. Once you learn the tool then you will have a better understanding of what you need.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2711 days

#4 posted 05-04-2011 06:54 PM

Dan, I’m planning to learn to sharpen hand saws, once I figure out which ones to get. :)

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4153 days

#5 posted 05-05-2011 09:33 PM

If you’ve got a decent coping saw, I’d just get a few pull saws. I have three, a flush-cut pull-saw (super flexible blade), one that’s a two-sided, rip on one side, fine cut on the other, the other’s a Bakuma 300.

The Bakuma will rip a sheet of plywood (we used them in our Bodega Bay Boat Building competition entry), and then let me do fine notch cutting in maple. Most of my shop is power tools, but it’s fast and accurate enough that sometimes I’ll just do a cut by hand that rather than set up the saw.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3816 days

#6 posted 05-07-2011 01:10 AM

Panel saws are just smaller and usually finer pitched versions of the bigger rip and crosscut hand saws. These are useful for sizing panel (go figure right) but are really a luxury. The dovetail saw can play utility for a lot of joinery. The rip tooth profile will product a rougher crosscut but it will do since more of your tenons and such will not be visible and refine with a chisel or plane later. If you wanted to add a saw then a nice carcass saw would be my recommendation. This is my most used saw besides my crosscut hand saw for rough stock breakdown. The carcass saw is always on my bench. I cannot stress enough however that the advice given above is sound. You nest as it stands sounds pretty good. Wait until you really need it then make your decision. Learn how to use a saw and become comfortable with it then you can more accurately decide which saw will be best for the work you do and what kind of tooth geometry is best. Good luck and ask plenty of questions, lots of people here are willing to help.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#7 posted 05-07-2011 02:34 AM

I use a dozuki, a ryoba and a bowsaw the most. The bowsaw
can do everything well with different blades but I usually just use
them for rip cuts, including ripping tenon cheeks and dovetails.

The dozuki is really a crosscut saw, made for cutting tenon shoulders.
A standard dozuki doesn’t rip quickly enough to be much fun
to use for all but the smallest of dovetails, where it excels. You
can get dozukis with ripping teeth but the back on the saw limits
it’s cutting depth.

I don’t use Japanese saws much on plywood. The glue wears
out the blades much more quickly.

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