New Veritas Saw - a bit of trouble

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Forum topic by Ben posted 02-02-2013 08:38 PM 1710 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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387 posts in 3058 days

02-02-2013 08:38 PM

So I got the the Veritas 14tpi dovetail saw.
It cuts like the dickens (very fast) but I have a real hard time getting the cut started (5/8” Soft Maple).

Should I be making a few long back pulls to try to get a kerf started? Start on one corner or another?

The trouble is especially on the pin board. My last saw was so fine it just slipped into the tiny scribe groove made by my marking knife and aligned itself. This Veritas saw is much harder to do this.
I’ve been using this saw to start the kerfs, then finishing with the Veritas, but this is silly.

Also, honestly I’m a bit surprised by how raggedy the face of the cuts are. Things are going together OK, but my last Luthier saw was superior in all regards except speed and comfort.

What am I doing wrong?

21 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3849 days

#1 posted 02-02-2013 08:50 PM

I pull back to start a western saw, Usually trying to sort of score
the cut line and then pulling down into the corner facing
me a little. Then I start to make push cuts.

Veritas doesn’t have a 16tpi dovetail saw listed on the
Lee Valley site. Only a crosscut saw, which generally
has more set.

View Ben's profile


387 posts in 3058 days

#2 posted 02-02-2013 09:06 PM

sorry, i meant 14tpi.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3849 days

#3 posted 02-02-2013 09:10 PM

Too much set for what you want to do maybe.

I dovetail with a bowsaw and I have so little set on the
blade I have to wax it.

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3068 days

#4 posted 02-02-2013 09:23 PM

Well, I’m certainly not a wood craftsman in the true sense of the word; actually if the truth be told, I’ve done more metal working in my life than woodworking because that’s how I made my living. However, I have been a hobby woodworker for over forty years and I have loved the woodworking more than the metalworking but I’ve always been a workaholic so over that long time my woodworking has been done in stolen moments. I have always loved the hand tools more than the power tools all that time. I’m kind of an old fashioned guy anyways so it all fits. Naturally somebody like me plays around with the traditional joinery over the years. Occasionally you’re gong to play around with hand dovetails here and there and so have I. I bought the Veritas dovetail saw a while back and played around with dovetailing once again for a week or so and I liked the saw. I’m also going the get the finer cut saw real soon. However, I have learned in several books that any saw you that you buy is going to have to be sharpened and tweaked before you can get the most of it. I have not learned how to sharpen hand saws correctly yet but it is something that I intend to do, hopefully sooner than later. The same books said that if an even mediocre saw is sharpened correctly it will literally sing in your hand. The old timers new how to do these things with simple tools. All that we have to do is look at their work. Their work is a wonderful testimony to their knowledge and abilities which came after many long years of apprenticeship and hard work before they could call themselves a craftsman – let alone a master craftsman. This is just my 2 cents.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View ChuckV's profile


3179 posts in 3728 days

#5 posted 02-02-2013 09:39 PM

I have the LN progressive pitch dovetail saw. The finest teeth at the front are 16 tpi. I am always working to improve my sawing technique. Here is what LN suggests:

The first thing you’ll need to know about your saw is how to hold it. This may seem obvious, but many people try to wrap all four fingers around the handle. The proper grip is to wrap the middle, ring, and little finger around the handle with the forefinger pointing along the brass back. You’ll discover that in doing so, you will have much better control over how your saw tracks, and it will also feel very comfortable and natural.

When starting a cut, hold the saw blade so it is flush with the top of the stock. It is not necessary to tilt your saw at an angle when cutting. Best performance is obtained by sawing slowly and evenly with very little downward pressure, using as much of the blade as possible. Your saw will track right to the line. Be aware, however, that due to the slight set, your saw will be hard to correct if it starts to cut away from the line. If that happens, it’s because you didn’t line it up properly when you started. Practice on some scrap wood to acquaint yourself with how your saw cuts. If you had a poor sawing technique before, your new saw will force you to learn the proper sawing technique. Don’t worry — once learned, it’ll be smooth cutting. If your saw seems to “grab” the wood and jump around in the kerf, you’re using too much downward pressure. Ease up a bit and take long slow strokes.

Keep at it!

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Ben's profile


387 posts in 3058 days

#6 posted 02-02-2013 10:10 PM

Thanks to all.
Following LN’s instructions actually helped a bit. Wouldn’t you know it!
Still a bit tricky to start.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2487 days

#7 posted 02-02-2013 10:13 PM

I own the same saw, Ben, and I also have a bit of trouble getting it started. I’m sure for me, it’s just technique and that the limitation is me, not the saw. The surface finish on my cuts is excellent, at least in white oak. Good luck with the saw, it’s a nice tool.

-- John, BC, Canada

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3068 days

#8 posted 02-02-2013 10:14 PM

Did you ever look at an original Kentucky rifle and wonder how it came into being?

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Manitario's profile


2681 posts in 3084 days

#9 posted 02-03-2013 05:05 AM

I have the same saw too, and found that it has a bit of a learning curve to start it. It definitely takes a very light touch to get it started, any downward pressure at all beyond the weight of the saw will cause it to stick in the wood. Once you get used to it though, it works well.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2675 days

#10 posted 02-03-2013 06:18 PM

For further help, try the nibble. I found it to be a very good way to explain it to new students.

View tirebob's profile


134 posts in 3055 days

#11 posted 02-03-2013 07:05 PM

What Jeremy said… That helped out my saw starting tremendously!

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2348 days

#12 posted 02-03-2013 07:24 PM

Yeah I’m a nibbler. I have that same saw and this technique really helps with it. If you feel comfortable reshaping your teeth, another thing you might try is Paul Sellers technique. Basically shape your teeth with a 60 degree rake for the first inch, a 75 degree rake for the next inch and a 90 degree rake for the rest. This lets you start the cut more easily at the front of the saw, then as you get it established you use the rest of the saw and its more aggressive rake.

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2348 days

#13 posted 02-03-2013 07:28 PM

This episode of The Woodwright’s Shop might help also.

View CL810's profile


3868 posts in 3189 days

#14 posted 02-03-2013 07:57 PM

I’m a nibbler as well. To test if your putting to much down pressure on your cut try this. Move your hand down the handle so you are gripping it without your little finger, or lower if necessary. Grip LIGHTLY. Doing this will make your cuts a lot less aggressive. If this helps then you can play with it to develop feel and then work your hand up to the position described by Lie-Nielsen.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2585 days

#15 posted 02-04-2013 03:14 AM

Just adding to the resounding opinion…I have this saw and usually if I have trouble, I find that I’m pressing down too much…It really cuts fast and can handle the pressure once the cut is started, but at the beginning, the weight of the saw is plenty.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

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