Hand saw buying advice

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

tibi

Established Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
514
Reaction score
199
Location
Slovakia
Hello,

I would like to ask for a buying advice for a complete hand saw setup for hand tool only woodworking. I am thinking about 3 ways how to cover my hand sawing needs . I would be working mostly with hardwood up to 50 mm thick and up to 2 m long.

1. Japanese way:
300 mm Ryoba for ripping + 240 mm Ryoba for general work and crosscutting + Ripcut or univerzal Dozuki for dovetails (all disposable versions)

2. Western way (all sharpenable versions)
New saws:
WILLIAM GREAVES Handsaw made by Thomas Flinn from fine-tools.com
508 mm - 20 inch - 10 TPI Crosscut saw
660 mm -26 inch -4,5 TPI Ripcut saw
Standard Veritas Dovetail saw or Pax gent saw for dovetails (if this saw is ever used for dovetails)

and then sometime later I would buy a PAX tenon saw

3. Old Spear & Jackson or Disston saws from ebay + saw sharpening equipment + getting some sharpening and saw restoration knowledge.

Is there those vintage saws superior in quality compared to those new saws that I have mentioned above? They are more entry level saws (price-wise) compared to Lie Nielsen or Bad Axe saws.

I know that I need to master sharpening and setting the saw first to get good results of any saw. This question is not about my sharpening skills, but more about the quality of cheaper new saws vs cheaper vintage saws. I do not want to shell out 400+ € for a premium saw (and I need at least four of them).

Thank you.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
I don't really know but I definitely feel that my old saws are much nicer to use and hold an edge better than new ones. Old Spear & Jackson, Ibbotson, Sorby, all with curly handles. But in the end there isn't that much difference, it's more a question of how it was last sharpened and by whom. Can't say I've ever felt much interest Japanese saws, or in expensive western saws - there's so much on Ebay and even if no good they could still be good for sharpening practice. Disston are no different from Spear & Jackson but are trendy so you pay more
PS I've never paid more than about £10 for a saw, often less.
Old handsaws always have the 'nib' about 4" from the toe, which is really useful for a novice or with an unfamiliar saw as it tells you when to stop pulling up, or you might go too far and kink it on the way down
My all time favourites are two beautiful 100+ year old hand saws for £15 the pair. Both little used, a 28" 4tpi rip Ibbotson and a 24" 8tpi Robt Sorby. They were black and rusty but don't let that put you off. They still are black, but shiny.

28" ripsaw here half way through a 2" piece of mahogany. Confession time - I cheated here by passing the board over the table saw to give a 3" deep kerf all the way round, so only have to hand saw out the middle:

@*"
rip1.jpg


24" Sorby here half way through a pallet. You can see the "nib"

panel1.jpg


Dull reflection, black but shiny, thanks to linseed oil, hardens off like a teflon coating:

panel4.jpg
 
Last edited:

Jameshow

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2020
Messages
2,856
Reaction score
1,600
Location
Bradford
I have s+j sandvick and several others. The sandvick 328 is my favourite tbh cuts about as good as a good hardpoint.

The s+j have a little too much kerf and need the teeth setting slightly. Rex Kruger has a video on it.
Learning to sharpening saws is essential after planes and chisels.

Cheers James
 

Ttrees

Iroko loco!
Joined
18 Nov 2012
Messages
3,665
Reaction score
501
Location
In me workshop
Is that boiled linseed oil, or the harder to come by regular stuff Jacob?
Been considering a different approach of tin foil and Autosol when I got the chance
but this has me holding back now.

Thanks
Tom
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
Is that boiled linseed oil, or the harder to come by regular stuff Jacob?
Been considering a different approach of tin foil and Autosol when I got the chance
but this has me holding back now.

Thanks
Tom
Rub off loose rust, brush on raw linseed oil very thinly, run it into joints and over wood handle etc. Takes time to dry but you don't have to wait, can always splash a bit more on later. I expect boiled will do similar.
 

thetyreman

Established Member
Joined
4 Mar 2016
Messages
3,740
Reaction score
823
Location
North West
I also have a saw that's around 120 years old, I found in a charity shop, it's a really nice saw, 'fitswilliam' it says on it great handle and all it took was a bit of linseed oil to restore it, I recon it had hardly ever been used, got very lucky , paid £7. Also check ebay, there are plenty of them that people think are worthless, look out for handle shapes, the better ones have a much nicer profile and are more comfortable, I like some of the weirder makes, as long as it's made in Sheffield you can't really go wrong. I do use a japanese saw but only for certain cuts, it's good for cross cutting, but prefer cutting on the push and prefer western saws much more, it feels like I have more control with western saws and it's much easier to correct any drift.
 

tibi

Established Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
514
Reaction score
199
Location
Slovakia
Can you tell me if there is a significant difference in cutting speed or quality between taper ground and flat ground saws? And how do I find out if the saw is flat ground or taper ground without asking the seller on ebay (many of them might not have a clue or a calipers to measure it). Should every type of saw be taper ground (tenon and dovetails saws, too?)

Thank you.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
No difference. Just a sales pitch. I guess there could be circumstances where the taper would make a miniscule difference but not so you'd ever notice.
PS another variation is the brass or steel backed choice. Brass is regarded as superior but in use there is absolutely no difference.
 
Last edited:

tibi

Established Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
514
Reaction score
199
Location
Slovakia
No difference. Just a sales pitch. I guess there could be circumstances where the taper would make a miniscule difference but not so you'd ever notice.
PS another variation is the brass or steel backed choice. Brass is regarded as superior but in use there is absolutely no difference.
Thank you very much, Jacob. Can you also tell me an optimal length of the panel saws and TPI? I would like to buy both as 20 inches (508mm) saws. 10 TPI for crosscut and 4,5 TPI for rip cut. Both saws are for rough cutting and the surface will be planed afterwards.

Thanks.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
Thank you very much, Jacob. Can you also tell me an optimal length of the panel saws and TPI? I would like to buy both as 20 inches (508mm) saws. 10 TPI for crosscut and 4,5 TPI for rip cut. Both saws are for rough cutting and the surface will be planed afterwards.

Thanks.
Depends what you are cutting but 4tpi on my rip saw seems good and fairly standard.
28" good too; ripping usually done low down over two saw horses (not like my photo above) and the 28" comes into its own. Needless to say I don't use it that often as I have a nice combi machine and a bandsaw!
Why do you want 20" saws - is that a Slovak thing perhaps?
The standard C&G kit is a good reference point and has crosscut: 26" hand saw 6tpi, 22" panel saw 10tpi, 14" tenon saw 14tpi. The 26" gets used for ripping too.
 

tibi

Established Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
514
Reaction score
199
Location
Slovakia
In Slovakia, there is a very little option to buy anything but disposable hard-point saws with plastic handles. People are not yet very interested in working with hand tools only. They want machines. There are some sellers from Czech Republic, but the closest real woodworking shop for hand tools is either fine-tools or dictum in Germany or England (ebay or Axminster tools or Workshop heaven).

I want to build a sawbench and support the workpiece with my knee.I do not want to have a saw, that is too long and I will not use the topmost part of the blade at all, because I would need to pull my arm way back.

I need to measure what size would be comfortable for me. I am 196 cm tall or 6'4".
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
In Slovakia, there is a very little option to buy anything but disposable hard-point saws with plastic handles. People are not yet very interested in working with hand tools only. They want machines. There are some sellers from Czech Republic, but the closest real woodworking shop for hand tools is either fine-tools or dictum in Germany or England (ebay or Axminster tools or Workshop heaven).

I want to build a sawbench and support the workpiece with my knee.I do not want to have a saw, that is too long and I will not use the topmost part of the blade at all, because I would need to pull my arm way back.

I need to measure what size would be comfortable for me. I am 196 cm tall or 6'4".
Not sure exactly what you mean by saw bench and supporting on your knee.
I'm 5'11" and all those sizes above seem fine for me, even the 28" - thats holding workpiece down with knee on saw horse - is that what you mean?
Maybe you are thinking too hard and just need to buy a cheap saw or two and see how you go?
 

tibi

Established Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
514
Reaction score
199
Location
Slovakia
Not sure exactly what you mean by saw bench and supporting on your knee.
I'm 5'11" and all those sizes above seem fine for me, even the 28" - thats holding workpiece down with knee on saw horse - is that what you mean?
Maybe you are thinking too hard and just need to buy a cheap saw or two and see how you go?

I would like to build a saw bench like the one on the picture below. Yes that is exactly what I meant. To use my knee as a clamp so the stock does not move around.
1607886734139.png


You are right, I am thinking too hard, because I have bought some brand new powered woodworking tools in the past and I did not have enough information and/or experience.

They were either low quality and unusable for the purpose, e.g. a cheap table saw where I could move fence +- 10 mm on the opposite end when locked. I have sold it for far less then the purchase price and informed the new owner about the issue.

Then I bought more quality brands like dewalt or makita, which I still own, but I have found little use for them, because I had no experience and did not know what I really need.

And our family's CFO (i.e. wife) is not very happy if I buy brand new tools and then sell them for a lower price, as we are saving for buying an apartment at the moment. I have a very limited footprint at the moment for my woodworking and storage, so I cannot keep a lot of stuff.
Thus I need to be careful and ask first what works and what does not, so I do not buy something that will either gather dust or will be sold without much use.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
Right, got it!
I use 28" saw, two saw horses instead of your one with a slot, and I think it's easier than your set up.
Like this chap Rip-sawing by hand The description is good too - note not to "lay" the saw too flat, and the little wedge suggested
Start with one end over, then move between the saw horses. You can also sit astride and hold the saw with both hands nearly vertical - this is very fast.
It's hard work and you have to thrash at it - one very good reason for the nib, if you are working fast you don't want to pull out too far, but you do want the long length to put more power in and reduce the number of strokes needed.
PS fence with wandering end - quite usual, fix with g clamp, or anything, to hold it in place.
 
Last edited:

tibi

Established Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
514
Reaction score
199
Location
Slovakia
Right, got it!
I use 28" saw, two saw horses instead of your one with a slot, and I think it's easier than your set up.
Like this chap Rip-sawing by hand The description is good too - note not to "lay" the saw too flat, and the little wedge suggested
Start with one end over, then move between the saw horses. You can also sit astride and hold the saw with both hands nearly vertical - this is very fast.
It's hard work and you have to thrash at it - one very good reason for the nib, if you are working fast you don't want to pull out too far, but you do want the long length to put more power in and reduce the number of strokes needed.
PS fence with wandering end - quite usual, fix with g clamp, or anything, to hold it in place.
Thank you very much Jacob. I have already built two sawhorses, but they might be too tall (90 cm) for sawing. I would need to build smaller version of them.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
Thank you very much Jacob. I have already built two sawhorses, but they might be too tall (90 cm) for sawing. I would need to build smaller version of them.
Mine are 23" high. This just suits a 28" saw at a typical working angle.
I'll take some photos tomorrow.

trestle3.jpg
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
22,468
Reaction score
2,510
Location
Derbyshire
28" saw, 23" saw horse, just fit! But have to be careful not to hit the floor.
You are taller than me so you could add a bit to the height, but wants to be low enough to make a convenient step-up, which is what they get used for a lot.
On that point - the top is about 26" but the feet spread further to 30". This is an essential detail as it makes the thing stable and impossible to tip, even if you stand right on the end.
Another esoteric detail is that splayed legs are inherently more stable than straight. This is because even if they are loose in their sockets any load will tighten them up. If straight vertical they may rack one way and then the other

You start with one horse and knee on the board in this position:

IMG_3638.JPG


Then when the cut is long enough you use 2 horses and work between. If the workpiece is big enough you can sit astride and saw with two hands on the saw.

IMG_3639.JPG
 
Last edited:

tibi

Established Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
514
Reaction score
199
Location
Slovakia
28" saw, 23" saw horse, just fit! But have to be careful not to hit the floor.
You are taller than me so you could add a bit to the height, but wants to be low enough to make a convenient step-up, which is what they get used for a lot.
On that point - the top is about 26" but the feet spread further to 30". This is an essential detail as it makes the thing stable and impossible to tip, even if you stand right on the end.
Another esoteric detail is that splayed legs are inherently more stable than straight. This is because even if they are loose in their sockets any load will tighten them up. If straight vertical they may rack one way and then the other

You start with one horse and knee on the board in this position:

View attachment 98309

Then when the cut is long enough you use 2 horses and work between. If the workpiece is big enough you can sit astride and saw with two hands on the saw.

View attachment 98310
Thank you very much Jacob. This is a very nice demonstration. I will build something similar in the future.
 

paulrbarnard

Established Member
Joined
5 Mar 2017
Messages
935
Reaction score
1,002
Location
Shepton Mallet, UK
Interesting discusion on saw horse height. I've been using the same ones for 20 years now but haven't paid any attention to the height since they were made. Turns out they are 19 inches high so at the low end of what people are suggesting.
I'm usually having at it with thicker boards of 2 or 3 inches and with one those on top of the horse the height matches up with the distance from the ground to the center of my knee joint. When I made them I remember doing quite a bit of experimentation to get the height that felt right for me using stacks of boxes and bits of wood. My longest saw is a 28 inch 4 tpi rip saw and it doesn't hit the floor. My natural saw angle is about 60 degrees up from horizontal.
 
Top