Need a dovetail saw

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by Ben posted 01-11-2013 11:50 PM 2135 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ben's profile


387 posts in 3055 days

01-11-2013 11:50 PM

I’ve just started hand cutting a kitchen’s worth of drawer boxes (19 in the lowers) and I think I need a faster cutting saw.

I had bought a $25 8” dovetail saw at my local shop but it had a nasty, aggressive cut that left the edges looking really bad. I am borrowing my brother’s “Luthier” saw that looks exactly the same. This makes a very thin, very clean and precise cut, but takes a long time to go through end grain. With 17 boxes left I’d appreciate any way to speed up the process a bit.

I’ve seen a few videos of guys buzzing down the end grain in about 3 seconds.

Can you guys recommend a saw in the “less than $50 range?”


15 replies so far

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2389 days

#1 posted 01-12-2013 12:05 AM

In my opinion, a Dozuki (japenese crosscutting saw) would be the best, but since it cuts on the pull stroke, you have to get used to it…
^^ I’d probably get that, but its $59..

-- My terrible signature...

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2308 days

#2 posted 01-12-2013 12:24 AM

I second Alexandre’s suggestion of a Japanese saw.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3591 days

#3 posted 01-12-2013 12:27 AM

Lee valley has a Gyocucho dozuki in that range…...

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2683 days

#4 posted 01-12-2013 12:41 AM

I found a dozuki at Rockler made for dovetails and other detail work, around the $50 price point. You want something that cuts well? This thing’s like a dang lightsaber. Very aggressive bite starting the cut, but easy to control.

Like everyone mentioned, Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke, which might be weird if you’re not used to it. For me, I find that arrangement much easier to control.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Ross's profile


142 posts in 2170 days

#5 posted 01-12-2013 01:02 AM

I would spend the extra $18.00 and by the Veritas dovetail saw.,42884,64007
I have the set and love them.

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

View TheBronzeoakleaf's profile


36 posts in 2161 days

#6 posted 01-12-2013 02:36 AM

I’m with Ross, you can’t beat Veritas for quality vs. price. You get what you pay for, and a $50 saw will be worth just that. And cutting on the pull stroke is just weird.

-- Sam,

View John's profile


47 posts in 2271 days

#7 posted 01-12-2013 03:45 AM

In my experience, trying to go fast with a fine dozuki means you start bending and breaking off the teeth. They’re long and thin and they want to do things at the pace they want to do them… Besides, dovetails are mostly a ripping operation, so if you want to go eastern, get a fine double-sided ryoba. I have a relatively inexpensive one I got at Home Depot several years ago that I really like. I want to say it’s a Vaughan, but I’m too lazy to run to the basement and check right now. Anyway, they don’t carry it any more.

I also own the Veritas DT saw recommended above, and I’d say go for that, especially because western style is what you’re used to. Another option might be to tame the ragged-cutting saw you already have. I’m far from a sharpening expert, but I have done it a few times and it’s not hard. The files are cheap and likely available at your local hardware store, surprisingly. You can clamp the blade in a regular vise between a couple of 1×3’s – put a thin wood strip at the bottom so the sandwich pinches tighter at the top right at the teeth. It might be that a light stoning on the side to reduce the set (and unevenness of set) might get that saw to cut like you want.

You’ll be cutting like a pro by the time you finish all those drawers!

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2344 days

#8 posted 01-12-2013 04:40 AM

Have you looked at dovetail saws on ebay? You’ll have to do some work on that, but that should be an option. Another possibility is the Crown gent’s saw that they sell at Woodcraft for around 25-30 bucks. I personally don’t like gent’s saws too much and am working on making a new pistol type handle for mine, but the saw itself cuts dovetails quite well. A third possibility is to get a Zona razor saw, which also has a gent’s saw type handle. They cut incredibly cleanly and are dirt cheap.

I have the aforementioned Veritas dovetail saw, and it’s well worth the 65-70 bucks that Lee Valley charges. Go for the 14 PPI version, not the 22. That one only seems to work well in stock under 1/2”.

View gawthrrw's profile


207 posts in 2645 days

#9 posted 01-12-2013 05:21 AM

I agree with the Veritas saw. I agonized for months and finally bought this saw due to it being in my budget. In my opinion its not the prettiest saw out there but probably works just as well. Its great right out of the box and tracked a straight line perfect.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3845 days

#10 posted 01-12-2013 05:53 AM

I use a bowsaw I made out of hardwood scraps
using a 22” butcher saw blade with most of
the set stoned off the sides and refiled
for ripping.

Dozukis make a nice cut but slow for ripping
dovetails. The bowsaw cuts faster and tracks
perfectly in the kerf. There are other benefits
one grows to understand in use.

There are dozukis available with rip teeth.

View Ben's profile


387 posts in 3055 days

#11 posted 01-12-2013 01:43 PM

Thanks for all the feedback.
Actually I have no experience with Western style push saws. I’ve only ever used a Japanese pull saw with crosscut teeth on one edge and rip on the other.

The Luthier saw I’m using I can’t even tell which direction it cuts in it’s so fine. It’s working out great for my dovetails but I’d guess it takes about 20 strokes to cut down a 5/8” thick tail side.

I just wish pull saws were available with the pistol grip handle. This straight handle is killing my hand.

I just remembered the saw I bought and returned was a Two Cherries brand, also a straight handle.
Horrible cut, not even close to tolerance. And I don’t know how to sharpen saws and would rather have one working right out of the box.

I think I’ll either get one of the LV saws or find something on eBay.


View Ross's profile


142 posts in 2170 days

#12 posted 01-12-2013 02:01 PM

Good choice on the LV veritas saw. Very comfortable to use. Tracks a straight line right out of the box.
For years I used a Gent saw to cut dovetails. My wife bought me the veritas saws for Christmas last year and I have to say the difference in comfort was huge. No more sore wrist after making multiple cuts.
The gent saw remains hanging on the wall. Can’t get rid of it because I inherited it from my Dad.

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2344 days

#13 posted 01-12-2013 02:55 PM

Ahh, if you’re used to pull saws, you might want to check out this one:

It’s a pull saw with a reinforced back and a pistol grip. I have the Shark general carpenter’s saw and love it.

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2389 days

#14 posted 01-12-2013 03:20 PM

John, If your dozuki teeth start breaking off, i’d guess it was bad quality… I’ve never had a dozuki break teeth off.

-- My terrible signature...

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3196 days

#15 posted 01-12-2013 05:40 PM

I really like Zona razor saws.

Inexpensive, sharp, cut fast.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics