Japanese Ryoba Saw. Crooked cuts, tapered ends...

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Forum topic by SoDakWoodworker posted 11-21-2013 05:58 PM 3587 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1759 days

11-21-2013 05:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: ryoba saw sawing cutting japanese saw

I’ve begun this attempt at the siren they call Woodworking about a year or so ago. So far its been a series of challenges I’ve loved to overcome. With every mistake I make, it’s an opportunity to learn from. The past 16 months have been full of “Happy Little Clouds” as Bob Ross would say. However, I’m in a very basic stage of this journey, so making a walnut and cherry dovetail keepsake box would be hard, right? Well, I though other wise, and this project has caused me more headaches than any project before. Dovetails have caused me to turn gray, but what really gets my hair ripped out is my Ryoba…

Ryoba. Cross cut one side, rip on the other. For some reason, which I hope some one your experiences will be of value, my cross cuts are always crooked. Perhaps 1/16 off (which I can live with) or so noticable its time to stop by the middle of the board.

I’ve gone slow. I’ve gripped it and choked it. used two hands, used one. Started from the front, started from the back.

About the only success I’ve had is starting from the front. But first I make a straight cut down the marking line. I hold the saw at an angle, use the bottom of the blade for more control and go slow. But then end grain tapers slightly. What is causing this? My grip, standing position, my strokes,

Basically, how can i get a straight cut across the grain from my Ryoba? Thanks

-- “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have their shoes.”

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


10384 posts in 3645 days

#1 posted 11-21-2013 06:53 PM

When I want an accurate crosscut with a ryoba, I scribe the
cut line with a pencil or marking gauge on two adjoining
faces, usually one wide that the other. I lightly establish
a kerf going across. I might use a square to guide the
saw to do this but I’m not bad at following the line by
eye. Then I do a slightly deeper cut on the line on
the narrower face, then angle the saw to cut the corner
within both kerfs. Then I deepen the kerf in the wide
face by cutting at a progressively shallower angle to
eventual saw halfway through the board on a corner-to-corner
angle. At this point there’s enough kerf to saw the
rest of the way through and the kerf keeps it
pretty straight.

I have not been impressed with the common plastic handled
ryobas because the blades tend to be thin. I like the ones
with the stiffer blades and rattan handles.

View waho6o9's profile


8189 posts in 2574 days

#2 posted 11-21-2013 07:09 PM

That’s exactly why I purchased this Dozuki from Lee Valley:

I’ve found it very difficult to great a straight cross grain cut from my Ryoba as well.

View SoDakWoodworker's profile


5 posts in 1759 days

#3 posted 11-21-2013 07:44 PM

How funny, I just added this in my Lee Valley Wishlist yesterday…fate? I think so..

Now when i bought the Ryoba, the owner sweared by them. He was a hand tools purist, and was heavy into Japanese hand saws. I went to his shop and was impressed with his work. But if it wasn’t a month later and I still cant cut em straight. Watched youtube videos, read articles, so I feel like the only chicken in the coop who cant cluck here. they saw let the saw do the work, which advice I follow my only using very little force and pressure and going slow…so i think perhaps the blade is moving since its spineless…

now speaking of spineless, any of ya’all wanna pay for my Lee Valley Wishlist???

Thanks for the help fellas.. keep em coming. I need a confidence boost in the shop today..

“Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have their shoes.”

-- “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have their shoes.”

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 3217 days

#4 posted 12-05-2013 10:09 PM

I have been using japanese saws for a long time, and while I can cut a straight line, I still struggle to keep my cuts plumb at 90 degrees. For me, improvement came with learning to use a light grip, and lots of practice. I have read the grip described as the same as holding a toddler’s hand. Try to start cuts only on the surfaces you can see your line. I am more comfortable starting cuts from the back, but I will not make a deep cut. Just enough to establish a kerf to guide the saw forward. Once cutting across the width of he board (for crosscuts), angle the saw to take deep cuts from the front moving towards the back.

Really, the key is just practice. On the plus side, I have become proficient on my shooting board cleaning up my cuts.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View matonb's profile


5 posts in 1629 days

#5 posted 12-06-2013 01:03 PM

I bought a Dozuki for dovetails recently and gotta say I love it, the only minor problem I’ve got is that the kerf is so fine I struggle to get a coping saw down the cut!

As for straight lines have you thought about using a guide like the ones made by David Barron?

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


3242 posts in 1985 days

#6 posted 12-06-2013 01:31 PM

I found that when hand cutting dovetails, the best thing is just practice.

I will take a board and mark 20 or so cuts going one direction and just work on them. Then, I will do the cuts for the other diagonal and finally some straight ones.

I think that I have done a zillion of them practicing and have gotten better but it seems progress is slow. You watch an expert like Rob Cosman or others do it and it looks so easy but they have done it for many years. I expect that it will take me many years if ever to even approach doing a good job at it.

View SoDakWoodworker's profile


5 posts in 1759 days

#7 posted 12-06-2013 04:16 PM

Thanks everyone. Ya’ll are very helpful.
Now, I went to that toolworks store and talked to the proprietor about my issues. He took an hour of his time and told me, not asked, to go and make some sawdust with the saw. The number one problem was my technique. I was holding it crooked. Dude told me to set a try square up on the board when crosscutting. Set it up on its handle so its vertical. Use this as a guide when cutting. Well, that was eye opening. Problem number duce: I wasn’t making my first cut in the correct place. I needed to start at the opposite end and make my downward cut. Then go over to the other end and cut downward. And cut it straight block head! Moving along, now make that kerf cut.

Now, suprise suprise, I was also gripping that sucker wrong all along. Do this if anyone is having issues like me: (Right handed, vice versa if a southpaw) When making those slow and easy cross cuts, pull down and keep it straight. Now grip the bottom with your right hand and put your left PALM on the top of the handle. This will keep it steady and you’ll be shocked with the degree of control you have. Another tip? Sure. A super secret best friends tip? Yep! You got it. This one could give you some even more appreciation to the Japanese masters and will make you want to go out and buy a headband. See that shiny steel blade? Watch it. Look at it. Look at the reflection of the grain while you move. I noticed even the slightest crooked movement when I did this.
Keep it at a 45 degree angle while cross cutting. Don’t go deep. Follow your pencil line. Have a wide stance with your left foot in front with your weight. Go slow and hold it straight.
Also, practice practice practice. And don’t do what I did which was take your new Ryoba with zero experience and cut that expensive walnut wood. You’re going to make mistakes. Thats good. Thats how you learn. Either you give up and throw your arms up in surrender. Trust me, I’ve wanted to give up. OR you can practice and learn from those mistakes. Thats important.

Thanks everyone.

-- “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have their shoes.”

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