Tenon Saw

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Forum topic by Chris_T posted 08-03-2011 09:05 PM 3245 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 2968 days

08-03-2011 09:05 PM

I don’t have any experience with hand saws or hand tools really for that matter. I would like to get a tenon saw but I really don’t want to spend a lot of money on something I might not use. What saw would you recommend for a beginning hand tool user?

7 replies so far

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3054 days

#1 posted 08-03-2011 09:25 PM

I got an old Disston backsaw for pretty cheap and had it sharpened. You may want to go the route of buying an older quality saw and having it sharpened. That would be less expensive then buying a premium new saw

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3145 days

#2 posted 08-03-2011 09:44 PM

I’m curious why you want to start with a tennon saw as your first hand tool..

Is your intention to make some mortise and tennon joints?
My reason for asking is that many hand tools work in unison as sets of tools to accomplish a task.

There are several ways to make tennons using hand tools. You need a different set of tools to make mortises and there are differing ways to go about that as well.

Perhaps we could give better guidance if we knew the goal.

View Chris_T's profile


94 posts in 2968 days

#3 posted 08-03-2011 10:00 PM

I just want to start with that so I can practice making tenons. It seems like they will be the hardest thing to make.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3145 days

#4 posted 08-04-2011 01:21 AM

Well, a hand cut tennon can be cut with about any saw. I have used a Diston 26” panel saw, all the way down to a Marples 6” pull saw (Japanese style) I got at Home Depot for ~$11.

I have cut tennons by making multiple cross cuts with a standard hand saw then breaking out the waste with a hammer and then paring down to final size with a good sharp chisel. I own a pair of Veritas saws for dovetails and tennons that I consider very nice tools, and a good value, but I actually prefer the cut, break and pare method myself. A good rabbit plane and/or shoulder plane are also good tools for finishing out tennons. I usually use a chisel cause thats what I have handy, always on or near my bench.

Speaking of bench, you really need a good, heavy, solid bench with a good sturdy vise to clamp your work. This is a prerequisite for most hand tool jobs.

Don’t forget you have to have a mortise for the tennon to fit into. Otherwise, what’s the purpose? Hand cut mortises will involve heavy chisel work. Big ones can be drilled first to eleminate most of the waste, then finished with the chisels. You don’t absolutely have to have mortise chisels, but they sure do make the job easier.

View nordichomey's profile


100 posts in 3276 days

#5 posted 08-04-2011 03:56 AM

I prefer the old tools and a Disston would be my preference. Veritas is a good reasonable priced product if you want something newer. I actually found used Adria tenion saws on craigslist. They are really nice considering I got them at 1/2 price.

-- nordichomey

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2828 days

#6 posted 08-04-2011 03:23 PM

IMHO you need three things to make a mortice and tenon by hand.

“1/4 mortise chisel (this is the most common size needed)
A good Tenon saw (I use a 9 tpi bow saw and love it)
And a good marking gauge (I use a Tite-Mark)

There are less spendy ways to do it, but in my experience if you don’t get good tools you might blame them for bad work instead of fixing whatever you are doing wrong.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View jamesicus's profile


132 posts in 2866 days

#7 posted 08-04-2011 09:48 PM

I think a tenon saw is a good back saw to have in your tool box. It can be used as a multi-purpose saw for most joinery: maybe a trifle heavy for small dovetail joints but useable just the same. Check out My Tool Box page.


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