Saws: West or East?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 10-03-2011 05:53 PM 1447 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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660 posts in 2102 days

10-03-2011 05:53 PM

In an article in “Hand Tool Essentials”, Chris Schwarz said that several online hand-tool vendors have told him that they sell far more Japanese-style pull saws than Western-style push saws.

Is that true for you? Do you prefer pull saws or push saws?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

10 replies so far

View cellophane's profile


42 posts in 1928 days

#1 posted 10-03-2011 06:29 PM

I think most novices like the pull saws because it is easier to get a cut going. I know that is the case in the classes I’ve taken. Once you figure out the english saws they are great but for someone who isn’t familiar with hand sawing the learning curve can be rough.

That said – the one pull saw I have is nice but the blade has a lot of flex in it. It’s great for flush cuts but I find that I don’t use it much now that I’ve got a decent grasp on the english saws. Eventually I’d like to get some smaller & more rigid pull saws but I’m not quite there yet. The good ones tend to be pricey…

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2417 days

#2 posted 10-03-2011 08:06 PM

I prefer pulling but I gave up on the Japanese style teeth. They tend to snag and then poke out. (Just regarding the regular hardware store types like from Takagi or Irwin sells (Might be from same factory) Have not used the high dollar ones myself. When they are sharp and new, they are absolutely wicked and cut beautifully. I keep several around for odd jobs.

I have switched over to frame saws and can push or pull to match my mood.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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Gene Howe

8094 posts in 2848 days

#3 posted 10-03-2011 11:22 PM

I really enjoy using my Dozuki, Ryoba and Kataba saws. They are efficient, and their cuts are fine and precise.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2534 days

#4 posted 10-04-2011 01:02 AM

I´m used to western saws but a while ago I bought some cheap japanes saws
even though my cheap pullsaws works well a rip eminent with nearly no
need for smothing or sandpaper after the cut …... I just can´t
get used to the short stroke that is needed when using them …do to my long arms
I think I switch back to only using western saws when it comes to bigger work than a ½inch dovetail


View crank49's profile


3979 posts in 2390 days

#5 posted 10-04-2011 03:05 AM

Due to the thin kerf, the Eastern style pull saws require less horsepower to run.
I recently installed 100 ft of plank fence and used my Jorgensen “Pony” pull saw for the whole job.
I prefer this saw with the grippy curved handle over the bamboo wraped straight Japanese saws.
I even used it to quickly trim the height of pressure treated 4×4s without breaking a sweat.
I could not have done that with a western saw. . . . except the one with the cord coming out of the handle.
On the other hand, I have 3 old Distons which I doubt I will ever part with, but they need sharpening right now so they mostly just hang on the wall.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View cellophane's profile


42 posts in 1928 days

#6 posted 10-04-2011 08:49 PM

On the other hand, I have 3 old Distons which I doubt I will ever part with, but they need sharpening right now so they mostly just hang on the wall.

I’ve been tinkering with sharpening lately (Disston knock-off back saw.) It’s suprisingly easy to do with a little homework on technique / tools. Made a vice out of some 1/2” Birch ply and I bought two files at the local hardware store. I did file the one saw I have as a rip, rather than a cross cut but I can’t see it being that much harder to do.

View dbray45's profile


3147 posts in 2196 days

#7 posted 10-04-2011 09:12 PM

I used the eastern style saw until I learned how to sharpen the western style saw. Now I use the western style saw.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View MrDan's profile


200 posts in 2707 days

#8 posted 10-04-2011 09:29 PM

I started with the Japanese pull saw but quickly switched to a western saw after slicing my thumb open on a number of occasions. Maybe it was just me, but I use my left thumb to position the blade as I start a cut and I just kept slicing it with those damn razor sharp teeth. :( (Anyone else had this problem?)

Once I got a western saw (LN 9” 15ppi) that stopped happening. The western saw was just as sharp but no more cuts…The clincher for me was the video Thomas Lie-Nielsen has on youtube teaching how to sharpen a western saw. That was the first instruction I’ve ever watched (or read) that didn’t seem overly complicated and intimidating. I followed his instructions and resharpened my dovetail saw with excellent results on the first try.

Also, I prefer the position of my hand & wrist using a western (pistol grip) backsaw over the Japenese saws, it just feels more natural for me.

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3215 days

#9 posted 10-04-2011 11:35 PM

You know, they say that eastern saws are easier for newbies to learn, but the bulk of my learning was in how much I hate pull saws. I have nothing but vintage western saws and prefer them to the eastern saws, hands down. Besides being easier for me to sharpen, I guess I’m weird in that I feel far more comfortable cutting on the push stroke versus the pull.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View maljr1980's profile


171 posts in 1875 days

#10 posted 10-06-2011 04:40 AM

i use a vaughn bear saw. ive used it for everything from cutting door jams for flooring, to cutting pvc for sink drains on remodels.

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