Dovetail saws

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by JAshcroft posted 09-23-2008 09:17 PM 1595 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JAshcroft's profile


20 posts in 3561 days

09-23-2008 09:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I would like to start doing dovetails by hand and would like to know which saws are the better ones to use for this. I suppose I feel more, “with the wood” using a proper saw! LOL!

-- It's all good...

8 replies so far

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3784 days

#1 posted 09-23-2008 10:51 PM

I recently had the opportunity to try a Japanese saw, with a thin blade. Once I got the mind set to pull instead of push, I was amazed at how nicely they cut and how easy it was to follow a line. After a little practice, I realized that this was the saw, for me, to cut dove tails.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3741 days

#2 posted 09-23-2008 11:35 PM

i am with lew the japanese blades are much easier to use then western saws for fine dovetails.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View JAshcroft's profile


20 posts in 3561 days

#3 posted 09-23-2008 11:36 PM

That may be the saw that my brother-in-law has. I believe he said his was a little pricey but it’s well worth the cost.


-- It's all good...

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3812 days

#4 posted 09-24-2008 03:12 AM

I’ll second (fourth?) that for the Japanese saws. Now before this gets into an east vs. west battle, many people have tried Japanese saws but prefer the Western saw with the push stroke. So my recommendation is to try both!

By the way, if you’re looking for a Japanese saw mostly for dovetails, I’d go for the dozuki. It has a hardened back, as opposed to the ryoba. I got mine for like $40. In my opinion, the opposite of pricey! The guy who sold it to me said he has been using the same one since 2004 and has yet to need a new blade (with Japanese saws, you can’t sharpen them, so you just replace the blade).

-- Eric at

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3796 days

#5 posted 09-24-2008 03:45 AM

i like the western push stroke style. thats just me as thats what i have always used and if you are looking for a nice western style saw i would go with a Lie Nielsen or Pax saw. they are both very nice saws and you can resharpen them if you ever need to. but with a nice saw it will be awhile.

View JDL's profile


15 posts in 3564 days

#6 posted 09-24-2008 03:50 AM

Not sure if this is kosher but I’ve been using a craftsman dovetail saw. Its cheap but when it gets dull they’ll give you a new one.

-- Jay

View 's profile

593 posts in 4000 days

#7 posted 09-24-2008 12:25 PM

I’m with Eric on this one! ;o)

Once I first tried Japanese saws I never looked back at western ones. Cutting on the pull means that the saw blade is under tension instead of compression so it naturally tends to ”straighten up” instead of wanting to flex, thus they get away with a MUCH thinner kerf. A much thinner kerf means less wood to remove and that equals to way less resistance… ergo you cut wood like butter, with almost no effort. Of course, not having to wrestle with the wood increases your precision. Ain’t it nice? :o)

As a disclaimer though, I’ve got to say that I can’t exactly be impartial on this matter…

Jay: There are no such thing as kosher regarding tools: whatever floats your boat is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s safe!

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#8 posted 09-24-2008 04:06 PM

I use a dozuki saw for small dovetails. I like the way it cuts but I don’t like the
way it pulls the sawdust back at you, obscuring the cut line.

For larger dovertails in casework I use a 24” bowsaw with a modified butcher-saw
blade on it. The bowsaw is easy to make. The butcher saw blade is easy
to find. I filed the blade for ripping and removed most of the set with a diamond

In cutting dovetails I prefer the saw blade to almost get stuck in the kerf. This
way it doesn’t wander once the angle is established. I apply wax to the blade
so it slides better.

In practice the bowsaw is what I call “self-jigging” because in order to cut vertically
you hold the saw at an angle with the blade pivoted about 10-15 degrees. This
way you can see what you are doing. The wrist position is quite natural.

In making angled dovetail cuts it’s simply a matter of setting the blade to the
angle I want. Then I start the saw with the handle held plumb. With
the handle vertical the blade is angled at 5-15 degrees, what ever I want it
to be. Again, the position is quite natural and the cutting goes quickly because
the blade is long with many teeth on it.

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