Advice required: traditional saws and Japanese saws

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CoolNik

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Hi there folks, I am not sure that I am posting in the correct forum, so please let me know if there is somewhere else more appropriate….I am just gathering the things I need for my first project, a stool or small bench that is part of Bob Rozaieski’s entry type course on Hand Saw Foundations and Hand Plane Foundations courses. His whole school is called Foundations of Traditional Woodworking. I am not putting this information here to promote his courses, just to let you and any others who are interested in taking a look. I have to trust that what he is saying is correct….perhaps someone would let me know? I have been using Japanese handsaws for the tiny bit of woodworking I have done so far and assume that they are a bit easier but for Bob’s course he requires the following saws:

20-28” 5-7PPI rip,
20-28’ 8-12PPI crosscut,
back saw 12-16“ 10-14PPI crosscut,
and a bow saw or coping saw.

I assume these saws are all “essentials” is that correct? I, at this stage, am not capanel of sharpening my own saws or even knowing what to purchase. Does anyone have a “old” set of saws that they no longer use but would be great for a beginner? I do have a UK address which you would use to post them, and of course, I would pay you. The reason I am starting this course now is because my specialist doctors and my physio have decided that the best way I can attempt to help my recovery would be to use my hands and feet for an activity - they gave me a list! I hate knitting and sewing, so it was woodworking, with hand tools! So, you understand my background, middle age female, former lawyer, had to stop when became I’ll and now starting woodworking!! Hopefully, you chaps x\can help me out with this list! Many thanks, Robyn
 

Sideways

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I'll chip in some thoughts.
The length and tpi (teeth per inch) numbers for the first two saws imply traditional western style saws that cut on the push stroke. To saw along the grain of timber (aka "to rip"), a coarse toothed saw blade is best because it cuts and carries away the wood fibres. You can make this cut with a finer toothed blade but it clogs and is hard work.
Cutting across the grain of the wood, a finer tooth blade is much easier.
So these two recommendations make sense.
The Japanese equivalent of these saws is the "kataba" and they are also available in fine and coarse types. They tend to have long, hard and sharp teeth. These work very well cross cutting soft woods, but in my limited experience are not so well suited to cutting hard wood.

A back saw is typically used to cut tenons so it's other common name is a tenon saw. The rip and crosscut saws aren't suited to this work so yes, this recommendation also makes sense. As a novice, I think you will find the lighter these are in weight and the finer the teeth, the easier they will be to use at the expense of taking longer. The japanese equivalent of this saw is a "dozuki".

Lastly the coping saw has a very thin blade that can be used to cut curves and is traditionally used before chisels in making dovetail joints.

So as a set of 4 saws, they do different jobs and I can understand why they might be recommended for a course. To save money, you could buy one cheap, general purpose "hardpoint" saw with a plastic handle and maybe a 20" blade from your local tool store. This might have 8 or 9 teeth per inch and it would work for both rip and cross cuts. Not as good as 2 specialist saws but usable and cheap.

There is quite likely nothing wrong with your Japanese saws. Personally I like that style of saw better than the western saw and for a novice to woodworking you may find them easier to use. The technique is quite different and I assume your course won't cover them. Put them aside and come back to them later :)
 

Ttrees

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I don't often see saws here crop up for sale, nor anyone offering.
That's not to say someone couldn't sort you out!
Maybe you could have a look at these two sites for what I presume would be working saws,
I doubt there cheap but might be worth a look.
Hand planes are/were generally twice the price of the bay, buy it now listings, last I looked.
I wouldn't think saws would be a good comparison though, as its not so easy to sort out a basket case like it normally would be for a plane, nor can parts be all that interchangable.
https://www.tooltique.co.uk/antique-too ... er/product

The Old Tool Store - UK based New and Used Woodworking Supplier

There may be more places, I don't know, generally seemed a bit too pricey for my liking,
as I'd have to factor in getting it posted overseas.
 

Orraloon

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Finding an old rip saw will be hard if you cant sharpen or restore it. New ones are costly and will still need to be resharpened after a bit of work. Few makers make rip saws anymore but this is likely the least costly.
Pax Rip Hand Saw
Plenty new crosscuts at better prices but they still need sharpening after a while. An example.
SPEAR & JACKSON Traditional SKEWBACK WOODSAW- Medium Finish SJ-9500R, Brown and Silver : Amazon.com.au: Home Improvement
Those S&J crosscuts can actually be resharpened with rip teeth if it is the desired PPI.
Hard tooth saws may get you by until you learn to sharpen. They are crosscut but will rip after a fashon. Bacho is perhaps the pick of the bunch. They are disposable with no sharpening but will hold the sharpeness longer than a regular saw.
Bahco 550mm Hardpoint Hand Saw - Bunnings Australia
As to backsaws there are lots out there but the hardpoint ones are rubbish at fine work. S&J do a couple. Pax ones are better and there is plenty more. That said lots of people do the fine work with Japanese saws as an alternative.
You picked the right activity to keep the mind and body active. Woodworking is a life long learning curve.
Regards
John
 

sometimewoodworker

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The Japanese equivalent of these saws is the "kataba" and they are also available in fine and coarse types. They tend to have long, hard and sharp teeth. These work very well cross cutting soft woods, but in my limited experience are not so well suited to cutting hard wood.
The very significant advantages of Japanese saws are that;

The blades are disposable so if it gets dull you just replace the blade (The cheaper ones not the horrendously expensive hand made ones) NOTE. all the saws I have from my time in Japan have been in use for several years, I have replacement blades for all of them, I haven’t replaced one yet, the failure mode I see is tips chipping off though the blades seem to cut perfectly well even so.

The blades have impulse hardened tips so they don’t blunt anywhere as fast as the softer western steel saws.

The tip design gives a slicing knife cut. As opposed to the plain like cut of the western saw.

The blade is very much thinner than any western push saw 0.3mm to about 0.5mm the western saw blade is from about 0.9mm so this means that cutting requires much less effort for any given cut.

I find no difficulty in cutting harder wood, virtually all the wood I have here is something between hard and ridiculously hard, along with a high silicate content.

The disadvantages;

The cutting style is different so requires learning if you have skill with a western saw.

Because the blade is thin it is also very flexible compared to a western saw this means that cutting straight can be more difficult.

My opinion on the requirements for the course are that you should contact Bob and ask if he has an absolute requirement for western saws explaining that you are familiar and comfortable with Japanese saws.
He may have good reasons for his requirement.
He may teach in a way that a change of saw is difficult to accommodate.
Equally he may have zero problems with your using pull saws.
 
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CoolNik

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The very significant advantages of Japanese saws are that;

The blades are disposable so if it gets dull you just replace the blade (The cheaper ones not the horrendously expensive hand made ones) NOTE. all the saws I have from my time in Japan have been in use for several years, I have replacement blades for all of them, I haven’t replaced one yet, the failure mode I see is tips chipping off though the blades seem to cut perfectly well even so.

The blades have impulse hardened tips so they don’t blunt anywhere as fast as the softer western steel saws.

The tip design gives a slicing knife cut. As opposed to the plain like cut of the western saw.

The blade is very much thinner than any western push saw 0.3mm to about 0.5mm the western saw blade is from about 0.9mm so this means that cutting requires much less effort for any given cut.

I find no difficulty in cutting harder wood, virtually all the wood I have here is something between hard and ridiculously hard, along with a high silicate content.

The disadvantages;

The cutting style is different so requires learning if you have skill with a western saw.

Because the blade is thin it is also very flexible compared to a western saw this means that cutting straight can be more difficult.

My opinion on the requirements for the course are that you should contact Bob and ask if he has an absolute requirement for western saws explaining that you are familiar and comfortable with Japanese saws.
He may have good reasons for his requirement.
He may teach in a way that a change of saw is difficult to accommodate.
Equally he may have zero problems with your using pull saws.
Thank you for your thoughts, you have figured out one of the main reasons that I like the Japanese saws - very little sharpening!! You make some very good points, especially about contacting Bob. Thanks, Robyn
 

CoolNik

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Finding an old rip saw will be hard if you cant sharpen or restore it. New ones are costly and will still need to be resharpened after a bit of work. Few makers make rip saws anymore but this is likely the least costly.
Pax Rip Hand Saw
Plenty new crosscuts at better prices but they still need sharpening after a while. An example.
SPEAR & JACKSON Traditional SKEWBACK WOODSAW- Medium Finish SJ-9500R, Brown and Silver : Amazon.com.au: Home Improvement
Those S&J crosscuts can actually be resharpened with rip teeth if it is the desired PPI.
Hard tooth saws may get you by until you learn to sharpen. They are crosscut but will rip after a fashon. Bacho is perhaps the pick of the bunch. They are disposable with no sharpening but will hold the sharpeness longer than a regular saw.
Bahco 550mm Hardpoint Hand Saw - Bunnings Australia
As to backsaws there are lots out there but the hardpoint ones are rubbish at fine work. S&J do a couple. Pax ones are better and there is plenty more. That said lots of people do the fine work with Japanese saws as an alternative.
You picked the right activity to keep the mind and body active. Woodworking is a life long learning curve.
Regards
John
Thanks John, for these references And for taking your time to respond. I will follow up with Bob to see if I can use my Japanese saws, but if not, then I will be following up with these sites. Thanks again
 

CoolNik

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I don't often see saws here crop up for sale, nor anyone offering.
That's not to say someone couldn't sort you out!
Maybe you could have a look at these two sites for what I presume would be working saws,
I doubt there cheap but might be worth a look.
Hand planes are/were generally twice the price of the bay, buy it now listings, last I looked.
I wouldn't think saws would be a good comparison though, as its not so easy to sort out a basket case like it normally would be for a plane, nor can parts be all that interchangable.
https://www.tooltique.co.uk/antique-too ... er/product

The Old Tool Store - UK based New and Used Woodworking Supplier

There may be more places, I don't know, generally seemed a bit too pricey for my liking,
as I'd have to factor in getting it posted overseas.
Thanks for your thoughts - I have no idea about the reasonable costs of these types of saws, so will do some researc to figure the prices out. One suggestion I have received is to ask Bob if I might use the Japanese saws that I have some time invested in So I will be following that up with idea too. Thanks Robyn
 

CoolNik

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I'll chip in some thoughts.
The length and tpi (teeth per inch) numbers for the first two saws imply traditional western style saws that cut on the push stroke. To saw along the grain of timber (aka "to rip"), a coarse toothed saw blade is best because it cuts and carries away the wood fibres. You can make this cut with a finer toothed blade but it clogs and is hard work.
Cutting across the grain of the wood, a finer tooth blade is much easier.
So these two recommendations make sense.
The Japanese equivalent of these saws is the "kataba" and they are also available in fine and coarse types. They tend to have long, hard and sharp teeth. These work very well cross cutting soft woods, but in my limited experience are not so well suited to cutting hard wood.

A back saw is typically used to cut tenons so it's other common name is a tenon saw. The rip and crosscut saws aren't suited to this work so yes, this recommendation also makes sense. As a novice, I think you will find the lighter these are in weight and the finer the teeth, the easier they will be to use at the expense of taking longer. The japanese equivalent of this saw is a "dozuki".

Lastly the coping saw has a very thin blade that can be used to cut curves and is traditionally used before chisels in making dovetail joints.

So as a set of 4 saws, they do different jobs and I can understand why they might be recommended for a course. To save money, you could buy one cheap, general purpose "hardpoint" saw with a plastic handle and maybe a 20" blade from your local tool store. This might have 8 or 9 teeth per inch and it would work for both rip and cross cuts. Not as good as 2 specialist saws but usable and cheap.

There is quite likely nothing wrong with your Japanese saws. Personally I like that style of saw better than the western saw and for a novice to woodworking you may find them easier to use. The technique is quite different and I assume your course won't cover them. Put them aside and come back to them later :)

Thank you very much for you thoughtful response. You have provided a lot of information about the comparisons which is very helpful as I was unaware of much of the “western” saws did differently. I appreciate you taking the time to assist. Cheers Robyn
 

sometimewoodworker

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Thank you for your thoughts, you have figured out one of the main reasons that I like the Japanese saws - very little sharpening!! You make some very good points, especially about contacting Bob. Thanks, Robyn
You are welcome. A point I didn’t make is that during the many years I spent in Japan I never saw a cheap poor quality Japanese saw. I didn't visit any really high end makers, usually went to the big multi section shops and never found poor quality saws. The prices in Japan are often/usually about ½ the prices charged in the U.K. so that make them even better value. I have seen really low quality western saws.
 

Craig22

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I have just trimmed 3mm off the bottom of an internal glazed door; the door jamb for the new flooring that was put down was quite a bit higher than the previous one.

Because the cut was so little, a regular saw would cut too wide a for such a little amount to remove. So I used one of my Japanese saws, which are really thin. Being a door, it was made from hard wood, but the Japanese saws (cross cut version for the vertical and rip for the rest) did the job like a champ. Took maybe 5 minutes. It is entirely possible to guide the cut by applying a little sideways force; the flexibility of the blade is your friend here.

Had to take the door off, of course, and put it horizontal.

These are just the sort that come from a decent mail order tool store (Axminster tools in the UK Japanese Saws - Saws - Hand Tools | Axminster Tools ). I have replacement blades, but have never needed them. The teeth are ridiculously hard. If you are ordering from Axminster's bewildering range, chose ones that are not back saw varieties (which limit the depth of cut), and buy a crosscut and rip variety, or a Ryoba style with has rip on one side and cross cut on the other edge of the blade.

So horses for courses. It I was cutting dovetails or tenons, I'd use a traditional back saw.

Good luck with your courses, tool choices, and recovery Robyn.

Craig
 

sometimewoodworker

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These are just the sort that come from a decent mail order tool store (Axminster tools in the UK
Of those I would avoid the first 2 AXCALIBER models they are clearly not made for the Japanese market & the handles are really strange. They may have been made in Japan, though I suspect not. as such the blades are of suspect quality and not replaceable. The range is actually quite a bit smaller than it seams as there are different lengths of the same saw. All the others are the common inexpensive saws you will find in any Japanese DIY store
 

Craig22

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Yes that is quite right - chose ones that are bona fide Japanese. The ones I got have absolutely no English on the cardboard blade covers, and have the light coloured bound handles. Looks like they are forty to fifty pounds each.

Craig
 

sometimewoodworker

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Yes that is quite right - chose ones that are bona fide Japanese. The ones I got have absolutely no English on the cardboard blade covers, and have the light coloured bound handles. Looks like they are forty to fifty pounds each.

Craig
All of the Axminster saws apart from the 2 I mentioned are authentic Japanese saws, some of them have plastic handles that just makes them less traditional. I have seen all of them in Japan except for the coping saw and maybe I didn’t pay attention to it. In fact probably all of them have some English on them even if only a few words
77EF2EA7-6127-4E7D-9B34-F33CDF78FDE0.jpeg
483EBB46-1891-4295-8EDF-C91B0E86D1CB.jpeg
76DBE7CC-758E-4214-832C-5BEEEA2B83CA.jpeg
40F1211D-5733-4E4B-A199-F81C1A0012D1.jpeg
 
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D_W

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From the point of view of someone who went mostly from japanese saws to nearly all western now:
* the impulse hardened tooth saws are definitely disposable and intended to be disposed of. They will dull. Not as fast, but they will dull. The cost in the west of the disposable blades is 3 or 4 times more than they are in japan (I bought a pack of 24 Z @265 saws from japan a couple of years ago for about $5 each. AT the same time, they were always for sale on buyee *including shipping* in japan for one for $7.90 from a hardware store. They may be less than $5 on the ground there.

They're about $15-20 here just for the blade. I don't think the saw in japan (including handle) is as expensive as just the blades here. The idea that we're presented with hardware store stuff as fine woodworking tools is a bit of a ruse. An example of the price setting our expectations rather than the other way around.

* how fast they dull depends on how much you do. If you do a lot of woodworking (I do a lot of hand sawing), you'll dull one a year for anything you do reasonably often. For crosscut saws, I would say a carpenter's crosscut saw with fine teeth will cut more than a disposable saw (the teeth dull faster, but the length of tooth line that you'll use is much longer).

* when the japanese saws dull, you may not notice it - they can easily drop to half of original speed and you won't notice it happening unless you have a new one around to compare

* If you see someone selling tools to the US from japan, they'll charge you double the cost of something in japan with regularity. That includes people like tomohita iida who will sell very high dollar items at double the cost they be to a Japanese buyer.

* you can sharpen disposable crosscut saws very easily with a cheap feather diamond file - you just use the flat side to refresh the top facet - that refreshes all of the corners on the facet and you don't need to do anything else. If you do it relatively sparingly, you can do it several times without tooth geometry issues. The saw will be as fast as it was when it was new.

In my experience, a tooth will bend out of set somewhere or break off before you can dull and resharpen them enough times to not resharpen.

refreshing the top facet only takes about 5 minutes and the diamond feather files are often on ebay for about $11 (you could do dozens of saws with one).

Anyone suggesting that you should touch up more than the top facet is in the weeds.
 

sometimewoodworker

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As mentioned the numbers are absolutely spot on this saw is available in the U.K.
4DC7480B-47C5-436F-A298-1AAEB52A2FC5.png

that price is ¥5,234
exactly the same saw in Japan is
¥1,897 £12.33
9489BC76-FF3D-4C5A-BA86-FA7F41D1B0F2.jpeg

even with shipping it is £22 so even if you have to add tax it is not going to get to £34

it is a nice enough commodity saw but nothing special.
So if you know what you want going to Amazon is much less expensive. Even less expensive is an aggregator like Tenso NB I've no experience with them just a quick DAGS Usage Guide | Forwarding service connecting overseas customers and Japanese online stores [tenso.com]

Though you will run into the problems of finding exactly what you want because you have to use the 3 japanese alphabets
katakana, hiragana & romaji, to do an effective search along with knowing what things are actually called in Japanese.
 

deema

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I note your in beautiful New Zealand, abd I’m languishing in ‘sunny’ Blighty, so I don’t know your local market for secondhand saws. In the UK, secondhand saws to fulfil your needs are very cheap and can be picked up for a few pounds. However, you suggest you have a strong aversion to sharpening. May I suggest it’s extremely easy, satisfying and rewarding. Start with a backed saw and then progress to longer saws. I wrote a thread on how to select a saw fully restore and sharpen it up. Unfortunately over the years the site seems to have muddled up the photos on some of the posts, but, I believe it’s still very easy to follow. I know a number of people have used the thread to sharpen up saws from being complete novice at it with excellent results.

The length of the two long saws is determined by the length of your arm. when sawing, you want to use as much of the bkade as possible, except for a the initial 50 to 75mm at the toe. The low toothed saw is traditionally called a rip saw, the other is often called a panel saw.
 

Jacob

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Japanese saws aren't traditional (unless you are Japanese!) but became fashionable about 20 years ago. There's nothing wrong with normal saws and they also are available hard point throwaway, cheaper, cut just as well, but less exotic.
Or trad very cheap 2nd hand - just go for Spear & Jackson and if necessary have them sharpened by a saw doctor, which will be cheaper than throwing them away and buying new.
I did the trad C&G tool box basic contents list here; Carpenters tool box which still looks good to me. If you want a rip I'd go for 28" 4 tpi
I'd ignore the supposed benefits of a thin kerf - as a rule they are thick enough for the purpose and tooth size, e.g. a S&J DT 21tpi saw will have 0.5mm thick blade, any thinner than that is getting a bit silly!
 
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CoolNik

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I note your in beautiful New Zealand, abd I’m languishing in ‘sunny’ Blighty, so I don’t know your local market for secondhand saws. In the UK, secondhand saws to fulfil your needs are very cheap and can be picked up for a few pounds. However, you suggest you have a strong aversion to sharpening. May I suggest it’s extremely easy, satisfying and rewarding. Start with a backed saw and then progress to longer saws. I wrote a thread on how to select a saw fully restore and sharpen it up. Unfortunately over the years the site seems to have muddled up the photos on some of the posts, but, I believe it’s still very easy to follow. I know a number of people have used the thread to sharpen up saws from being complete novice at it with excellent results.

The length of the two long saws is determined by the length of your arm. when sawing, you want to use as much of the bkade as possible, except for a the initial 50 to 75mm at the toe. The low toothed saw is traditionally called a rip saw, the other is often called a panel saw.
I am sorry to hear that you are suffering from the usual wet, dark and windy Winter, whilst we are enjoying the great Summer weather and daylight savings!!r

Thank you very much for that link to your sharpening document. I will take a close look at it. I must note that it’s not that I don’t like or even object to sharpening, rather its 2 issues, firstly I know nothing about sharpening and have no access to a live person for tuition and secondly as I am suffering from a chronic illness which has affected my hands and feet, I am simply not sure of my ability or the length of time that it would take me I.e. What might take you 30 mins to do might take me 3 hours. I would rather spend that 3 hours working on my mothers box, and practicing my dovetails!!

do you or any of the other chaps have the name and address of a satisfactory UK saw sharpener? I can get old saws in NZ reasonably cheaply but due to illness I am very restricted in my ability to view any prospective purchases and then there is the issue of finding someone to sharpen them. What I am thinking, subject to what you chaps think, is to purchase 3 or 4 ”old” saws, hopefully from you chaps and then have them sharpened in the UK before having them shipped out to me. Let me know what you think - I am willing to pay, of course, just need a bit of a hand up. Cheers
Robyn
 

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