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Alf

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In a galaxy far, far away (well, the General Woodworking board anyway) the following was asked:
Pete W":30ke21js said:
First question then: handsaws, or more specifically, dovetail saws. I'm hoping to master the art of handcut dovetails but I'm not sure how many I'd be cutting on a regular basis. So, is a dedicated dovetail saw worth the investment?

Assuming a yes to that one, how much to invest? I've seen a couple of reviews of the Adria saw and it looks lovely but not sure whether it's complete overkill for a novice wood-butcher like myself.
A good question, and not an easy one to answer as far as I can tell. On the one hand, if you've got a useless saw your dovetailing will be made all the more difficult, and you may be put off completely. On the other, when you're starting out you don't want to spend big dosh only to find you've either ruined it or it turns out not to be what you needed after all. One additional problem with these "big bucks" saws is sharpening. Really what you're paying for it that good sharpening job, but saws don't stay sharp forever. So what happens when it needs resharpening? Do you have a good Saw Doctor handy who actually knows what he's doing? If he doesn't, your £100 saw could wind up worse than one for a tenner. For instance I finally gave up on my local one when it became clear not only didn't he know there was a difference between rip tooth and X cut (It's just fewer teeth for rip innit?) but he couldn't even count the number of teeth despite me getting out a rule and showing him how (Nah, that's 13 tpi innit, not 17. No such fing as 17 tpi). Thank goodness I found out before I entrusted a good saw to him. :shock: Unless you feel up to learning the art yourself? It's not easy on those fine teeth, so you'd need other, coarser toothed saws to practice on first, files, magnifying equipment, saw vice etc. Trust me, I know this 'cos it's what I ended up doing and I've ruined enough teeth in a year to know what I'm talking about. :oops: It's bad enough on an 80yr old £5 saw, but the thought of sharpening one costing 20 times as much gives me the shakes. :shock:

So, my opinion :wink: Yes, a dedicated dovetail saw will make a world of difference but it doesn't have to be an expensive option. If you know of a Saw Doc capable of sharpening and setting an expensive saw, then he can do just as good a job on a cheaper one, or an old one. And if you don't, then I think it unwise to spend that £100 if you can't maintain it. I know there are others who disagree with that, and have splashed out regardless, and I daresay Simon will be along in a moment to say why :wink: The Adrias are very nice I must say, and that 1 year money back guarantee Eddie offers shows real faith in the product, but it's an awful lot of money. You'd be a pretty happy chappy though.

Okay, so not much help :oops: but something to think about anyway.

Cheers, Alf
 

Adam

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So as I haven't got time for all that sharpening stuff, can anyone recommend a good saw doctor, whom I could post stuff to for sharpening?

Adam
 

Pete W

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Good point (pun not intended but gladly accepted). I hadn't really thought about the sharpening issue in the context of the Adria. I have bought a couple of bigger hardpoint saws (a 22-incher and a 10-inch tenon) after seeing them recommended in a couple of 'getting started' articles.

I have no idea about saw doctors locally (I'm in west London, a short drive from D&M Tools actually :)).

I've seen the Shark Pullsaws recommended for detail work, which I believe are hardpoints and cheap enough (£15-ish) to be disposable I suppose.
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Pete

My first port of call would be to D&M they must know of a good saw doctor locally. You could also ask the customers in D&M. :wink:

Have you thought about Japanese saws? They are not very expensive and will give you an excellent cut. (OK Alf I know when I'm not wanted, I'm away to join Gill in the bunker). :wink:

Cheers
Neil
 

Alf

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Not a bad idea to ask D&M, but make sure you say it's for a hand saw, not machine blades. Even my moronic Saw Doc can sharpen planer blades adequately.

As for Japanese saws, why not? If you can cope with that type of handle, and find one configured for rip cuts in hardwoods, you're laughing. Just don't expect a dozuki from Axminster to be anything but frustrating when it comes to doing a rip cut. DAMHIKT :evil: I don't have anything against Japanese saws for cross-cutting at all, I use one all the time - with a replacement wewstern style handle though :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

Philly

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Pete,
I use the Japanese saws a lot, but they can be frustrating. If you want cut dovetails by hand you can't beat a "classic" western dovetail saw with a big brass back. I have a Pax one I picked up at a car boot sale. Just remove some of the excess set from the blade first with a slipstone.
( or you could spoil yourself rotten and get the Lie-Niesen independence saw and a Rob Cosman dovetail video-that's all you need to excel!)
regards,
Philly
 

Pete W

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Philly wrote: "get the Lie-Niesen independence saw and a Rob Cosman dovetail video-that's all you need"

Interesting definition of "all" you have there :). In an ideal world my workshop would be full of Lie-Neilsen and similar kit, but alas reality dictates otherwise.

The good thing about taking so long to get the garage workshop sorted is that I've managed to refrain from investing in expensive handtools and machinery. Didn't seem smart to let them sit in a damp garage for weeks/months.

But I think the budget would stretch to a Japanese-style saw for experimentation :).
 

Alf

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Philly":2q0ye9ie said:
you can't beat a "classic" western dovetail saw with a big brass back.
Oh yes you can. You get one with a steel back and avoid paying the premium for a brass one. :wink:

Philly":2q0ye9ie said:
I have a Pax one I picked up at a car boot sale. Just remove some of the excess set from the blade first with a slipstone.
Taking it very slowly, 'cos putting set back is a whole lot trickier than taking it away. :?

Philly":2q0ye9ie said:
that's all you need to excel!
<Insert hollow laughter here> :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

Midnight

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I started "tooling up" to try hand cut DT's just before christmas. Not knowing which type/marque of saw would suit me best, I tried to cover my bets as best I could, without breaking the bank. I've ended up with a couple of Victor Gents saws, 8" and 10", along with the Victor dovetail saw. Admittedly I've yet to use them to try cutting dovetails, although the gents saws have proven their worth when cutting some real finnicky tennons. In use they felt well balanced, held the line well and cut effortlessly; I've found myself reaching for them more often as my confidence in their capabilities grows. Havent tried the dovetail saw yet though... next chance to practice will be a while away yet... deadlines to meet...

I'll keep you posted though :wink:
 

Philly

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Oh Dear,
When I said "or you could spoil yourself rotten and get the Lie-Nielsen independence saw and a Rob Cosman dovetail video-that's all you need to excel!" I wasn't being smart or snobbish. It was meant half humourously, half serious. I have both (Not A Gloat!) and can now cut dovetails by "hand" the way I want to-the video is spot on and introduces some interesting ideas and concepts. It also shows how to tune a dovetail saw for best performance.
The L-N saw is a masterpiece and cuts perfectly straight-all you have to do is cut purpendicular (i'm not joking!) Most cheap/nasty/blunt tools do not perform anything like they should. Fine tools do most of the work-when you use the correct tool work goes smoothly. This is part of the problem for woodworkers who are on their own-they have no benchmarks to check their own tools against. An apprentice would see the Master woodworkers tools, how finely they were set up and sharpened and taught how to fettle his to a similar standard. (Most tools today are DIY standard, not fine woodworking standard) When you see tools used correctly it is obvious-not so when you are feeling your way along the road on your own. ( as an example, how many people on this forum have been inspired and taught by Norm Abrams show? Quite a few, i am sure!)
I appreciate everyone wants a shop full of the finest tools, but when starting out you can only afford one at a time, and money is always tight. But if you want to cut fine handcut dovetails you need the correct tools-the same as for any other task
I wish you the best in your exploits,
Philly
 

Alf

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Philly":3iitea7m said:
This is part of the problem for woodworkers who are on their own-they have no benchmarks to check their own tools against. An apprentice would see the Master woodworkers tools, how finely they were set up and sharpened and taught how to fettle his to a similar standard.
Ain't that the truth. I was reading a pre-war Woodworker annual, and it was sagely advising the apprentice to go with a skilled worker from his workshop just in order to choose his bench planes, never mind tuning them. A modern alternative sometimes recommended to beginners is to buy a Clifton or L-N as their first plane, simply so they'll know what level of tuning they need to aim for in subsequent planes.

On which basis, Pete, you'd better go and get that Adria then eh? :wink:

Mike, I'm surprised at a L-N fan going for another's DT saw :shock: I'll be interested to hear your opinion of it, once you get to use it. I've tried the Victors out a couple of times at the show now, but I won't say what I thought so as not to influence you :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

Midnight

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No dovetails yet, Mike?

Never mind - you're obviously a gent!
Patience Trev... patience... I still need to find a half decent set of paring chisels first... and I can't begin to think about that till I've finished planing the 100 board feet of oak and elm I need for the project in progress...
All in good time..
As for being a gent..... sheesh..... I've worked too damn hard maintaining a reputation as a rogue to slip up now..... :wink:


Alf...
I'll admit... I was seriously tempted to go for the L-N... but you know how it is around christmas... the visa card was looking pretty bruised as it was.. I'll give the Victor a try... if it works, all fair and well... if not, it's not too much to write off to experience.... damn site cheaper than that Stanley #7 I tell ya... :cry:
 

Pete W

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Philly":3bsq56ma said:
Oh Dear,
When I said "or you could spoil yourself rotten and get the Lie-Nielsen independence saw and a Rob Cosman dovetail video-that's all you need to excel!" I wasn't being smart or snobbish. It was meant half humourously, half serious.
Don't worry - those are precisely the proportions in which I took it :).

And I take your other comments to heart, too. The trouble is, as a complete beginner you (I, one) needs not a tool but a basic toolkit - saws, chisels, planes, measuring and marking gear, clamps (never thought about clamps before I started reading in earnest).

My plan - in the first stages of execution - is to buy that basic toolkit, make my mistakes, learn as I go, and replace the low-cost stuff a piece at a time as I go forward. I understand the wisdom of buying quality, and fully intend to. When my bank manager allows :).
 

Philly

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Pete,
Good idea mate- Get a nice basic tool kit and then build from there. Only advice I would offer is this-cheap, rubbish tools are not a bargain. It's worth paying a couple of quid more for better tools and getting a load of cheap ones. Build it up one at a time and learn to appreciate the finer points of each tool. ( i recommend David Charlesworth's books for tuning up hand tools)
regards,
Philly
 

Adam

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Better still, buy ones cheap at a car-boot-sale, and you'll have great quality items, without the cost!

I got 4 really nice boxwood handled chisels last week for £4/each.

Sharpened them last night and they are really superb.


Adam
 

dedee

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Quote taken from Asleitch in an earlier thread on Dovetail Saws.

So as I haven't got time for all that sharpening stuff, can anyone recommend a good saw doctor, whom I could post stuff to for sharpening?

I tried to find a local saw doctor in my area (SE London, NW Kent) and failed. This was the summer of 2002 I spoke to

1) local tool shops who could only recommend big machine shops who sharpen machine tool blades.

2) Local furniture makers who do no not send out but sharpen their own.

3) I wrote to Furniture & Cabinet Making ( and got my letter published as their "star" letter) but they could only recommend books by their own publishers and a chap down in Sussex who when I rang no longer sharpened saws.

So I gave up. I have a fine tooth Disston circa 1920 (grandfather's) that I was not about to sharpen myself and I ceratinly was not going to have shapened by machine. It is still unsharpened as a result.

Instead I used the Brimarc vouchers from the Star letter in F&C to buy a Veritas dovetail saw guide and I bought a Ryoba from APTC. The combination has produced some excellent DTs. The ryoba is probably too flexible for use without the saw guide so I have Dozuki on my wish list for use when I attempt my next lot of DTs free hand.

I am no expert but these saws are sharp, easy to use (once you are used to the pull stroke action and probably cheaper than having a specialst DT saw shapened.

I'd happily post my Disston to a recomended saw doctor anywhere in the UK. Anyone know of one?

AndyP


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Adam

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This is where I would have expected ALF to say......"yes, I recommend XXXXXXX". "This is the recommendation on the Galoots mail list that circulates all the time....."

As our newest moderator, and #1 galoot, I'm sure she ought to be able to track that information down eh? ALF?

The challenge is set...... :lol: :shock: :p :wink:

Adam
 

Adam

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ALF,

Actually it occurs to me, can you ask this question on our behalf on the Galoots message board - and also didn't you point me in the direction of a hand-tools forum once upon a time?

Adam
 

Adam

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And I'll ask my local shops, to do my bit.

Adam
 
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