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Ripping and crosscut saws buying advice needed

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Andy F

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I would like to learn how to sometimes use handsaws for ripping and cross-cutting work instead of firing up the table saw. I have a couple of Stanley ones, but they have been used for cutting firewood and I cant even remember how much they cost or where they came from.

I am annoyed with myself for giving my Dad's vintage saws away when he died (albeit to a charity that uses them), but wonder if replacing them with pricey items is the right thing to do or should I be buying disposable £6 jobbies from B&Q.

I understand the difference between Cross-cut and Rip saws but am not too familiar with the PPI sizes. I just wondered if modern manufacturing methods make the cheap ones ok or should I be looking at better quality. I have no objection to spending money on good stuff if that will help me.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thanks
Andy
 

AJB Temple

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The cheap ones with hard points work perfectly well and I buy them as pretty much disposable. Blades can flex too much on some. Hence if I am doing fine work then I tend to use much better quality saws that can be resharpened. In tenon saws I like them with more teeth per inch at the starter end. I've tried all sorts and tend to use the Veritas ones day to day. Fairly sensible prices (compared with say high end stuff like Rob Cosmam, Skelton or other hand made saws). I've also refurbed a couple from eBay and bought a couple from this site (both Pax - and they are very good). Too many tools! Everything will work if the teeth are set right and the saw is sharpened properly.

That said, I do not like a blade that is way too deep for the job in hand and I do like a stiff, heavy back on a tenon saw and minimal flex in the blade. It needs to feel right in the hand too. Try a few and get a feel for what suits you.
 

deema

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There are many types of saw, however the three most used are ripping, panel and tenon / Dovetail saws. Rippling and panel saws are extremely cheap to buy on auction sites.....they are almost giving them away! Car bolts they can be bought for pennies!! There are lots of ‘things’ that are sold as making one saw better than another, these include taper ground blade and crown cut. Well, for most people, you will never know the difference, so forget it all! Get yourself a nice vintage saw, with plenty of plate thickness left, not one that’s come to a point at the toe!! Don’t get excited about beautiful handles, you hold it, if it feels nice, it is nice, if it doesn’t feel nice fettle it until it does! The only criteria is that it’s not kinked. If it’s bent, you can just bend it back straight. A kinked saw is scrap. If you let me know what your looking to cut ( typical thickness / materials) I can suggest a good TPI, Fleam you need to sharpen it to. Really easy.

To cut tenons and Dovetails you only need one saw for most applications. A 12” or 14” tenon saw with around 12~14TPI. There is very little difference in plate thickness between a Tenon and Dovetail saw to make it noticeable for most applications. You need at least 3 teeth in the wood when sawing at all times for a smooth cut, which determine the minimum TPI for a saw. Cutting at an angle increases the number of teeth in the wood and allows a saw with fewer teeth to cut thinner stuff. If your using stuff that’s less than 6mm think then you will need a finer saw, but for most people, that’s a very rare event if ever. (Making joints)

You only need a saw sharpened to RIP, there is no discernible difference in blow out on the back of a piece for a properly sharpened and set saw between a RIP and a cross cut backed saw.

What I recommend to everyone starting out is buy a cheap old saw that you need to sharpen up yourself. You can pop into Axminister tools and have a play with the Veritas, LN, PAX saws to get a feel for what a well sharpened and set saw should cut like. -however, I personally find they all out too much set on the saws.

Have a read of the following thread I made a few years back on the selection, setting and sharpening of a hand saw. I know a few have followed it and all I understand have been successful.

hand-saw-restoration-and-re-teething-of-a-99p-saw-t98494.html
 

Jacob

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A rip hand saw would be around 4 tpi. Might need sharpening to a proper rip but not difficult. But don't contemplate changing the tpi itself. On any saw stick with the tpi you get.
 

thetyreman

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just get a cheap second hand carbon steel saw from ebay, spend a few quid on an eclipse saw set and saw file and that's it, you're set for life...
 

MikeG.

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Grunty24":joz6210p said:
.......I... wonder if replacing them with pricey items is the right thing to do or should I be buying disposable £6 jobbies from B&Q......
That's a false choice, Andy.

There are hundreds of decent second hand handsaws sold on Ebay every year for not a lot of money. There are members of this forum selling them now and then, too. In fact, there is one selling a whole heap of them right now. A plastic handled hardpoint for under a tenner is fine, but they can be harsh (they're really site tools), and rip versions are like hen's teeth. And when they're blunt they are only any use for making scrapers. If I were you I'd buy an old rip, crosscut, and some files.
 

Cheshirechappie

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One thing you say is that you'd like to learn to use handsaws. Here's a video by Shannon Rogers from his website The Renaissance Woodworker on sawing technique. He covers both backsaws at the bench and handsaws.

https://www.renaissancewoodworker.com/r ... nd-sawing/

He has a lot of other content on sawing, too;

https://www.renaissancewoodworker.com/c ... es/sawing/

Just a thought or two on using hand, rip and panel saws. Which saws are most useful depends rather on the type of work you intend to do. Carpenters favoured a 26" x 6tpi saw (which is why so many appear second hand) for fast cross-cutting of thickish softwoods (2" to 3" or so) on site. Cabinetmakers tended to prefer panel saws of 22" x 10tpi size or thereabouts for cross-cutting dry hardwoods, most of which would be about 1" thick or less.

If you have a table saw, you may well find that hand ripping stock is something you do once and then - never again. It can be hard work, especially in thicker stock. However, back in the days when men were men and tablesaws weren't invented, they favoured longer saws with big teeth - 26" or 28" with 3 to 4 tpi. Nowadays, a finer panel rip saw (say 22" x 8tpi) can be useful for trimming panels to width and similar work, though a larger tenon saw can do such work just as well. For cutting sheet goods, finer teeth are better.

Bear in mind that hand, rip and panel saws are roughing-out tools. Most cuts made with them (except perhaps in carpentry) will need another operation - planing, usually - to finish them. You can minimise the finishing work by using a nicely tuned saw and good sawing technique, but you won't eliminate the need entirely.
 

AndyT

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Plenty of good advice there.
I'll add one thing. If you want to do deep ripping (cutting eg a 8x1" board to make two bits about 3/8" thick to use as panels) you need far fewer tpi than if you are just ripping inch boards to width. It's because you need deep gullets to carry a lot of sawdust away. For those cuts, if you ever try them, I think 3 tpi is about right. Exactly the right answer depends on the timber and you.
 

Jacob

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AndyT":3k5sb5vj said:
Plenty of good advice there.
I'll add one thing. If you want to do deep ripping (cutting eg a 8x1" board to make two bits about 3/8" thick to use as panels) you need far fewer tpi than if you are just ripping inch boards to width. It's because you need deep gullets to carry a lot of sawdust away. For those cuts, if you ever try them, I think 3 tpi is about right. Exactly the right answer depends on the timber and you.
I've done that splitting a board occasionally. Cheated by cutting as deep as poss over the table saw first, then just take out the middle with a rip saw. Doing it all with a hand saw would be not much fun.
I read somewhere that could do similar by hand instead of TS by first planing slots with a special plane . This would also guide the saw. Sounds a good idea. Anybody seem a plane which could do a 1 1/2" deep slot just 1/8" wide?
 

deema

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Usually there is a blade length that’s best suited to an individual person. The length of stoke you can make comfortably determines for a person the optimum blade length. The saw needs to be in the kerf for the full stoke without danger of the toe coming out which is the main cause of kinking a blade.
Equally it doesn’t want to be longer than the stoke plus the thickness of the material being cut plus a little to keep the tie I the cut. The length this determines is from around 1” from the handle to the toe.

Panel saws were typically used to cut up to 1” think stuff whilst Rip saws would handle typically 4” thick, hence the difference in typical lengths for these two types of saw.

Today people are generally taller and a typical panel saw is too short for a person over 6’. A solution is to buy the right length of saw (usually a Rip saw) and then change the Tpi to what you want. Changing TPi from RIP to panel isn’t a big task and easily done.
 

Jacob

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deema":3pito7t0 said:
......
Today people are generally taller and a typical panel saw is too short for a person over 6’. A solution is to buy the right length of saw (usually a Rip saw) and then change the Tpi to what you want. Changing TPi from RIP to panel isn’t a big task and easily done.
Really? Looks like a major job - simpler to buy another saw? No prob filing a cross cut into a rip but changing the tpi is a step too far for me.
deema":3pito7t0 said:
.... The saw needs to be in the kerf for the full stoke without danger of the toe coming out which is the main cause of kinking a blade..........
n.b. rip saws particularly benefit from having the trad depth marking nib about 3 or 4" from the end, because in use you can't see the end and there is a slight risk that you will pull out too far and kink it on the way back in, as deema points out. Not least because rip sawing is an energetic head down brain off sort of thing.
 

D_W

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deema":a5mq0yon said:
...

Today people are generally taller and a typical panel saw is too short for a person over 6’. A solution is to buy the right length of saw (usually a Rip saw) and then change the Tpi to what you want. Changing TPi from RIP to panel isn’t a big task and easily done.
rip saws generally had stiffer plates (probably because of thickness), so this is OK to do going from rip to crosscut, but it may not work that well if you try to go the other way. BTDT thinking I could make a good fine hardwood ripsaw out of a crosscut saw.

I haven't got a great suggestion for the OP other than a hard tooth saw for crosscut is fine to start - I wouldn't spend a lot of money on any saws until you've decided that you like the physical activity of sawing. I like the activity, but i run into few people who purchased expensive rip and crosscut saws (either new or "professionally" refurbished) who use them any significant amount.

To the OP - there's no substitute for a real rip saw when you're ripping. The number of people who will actually make it worth having one (ripping a couple of hundred linear feet in a given project) is probably a lot smaller than the number of people buying them, though. It is physically tiring and figure accurate work in 5/4 material that's not soft pine is about two feet per minute. It's not like a sprint, but it's not like an easy walk if you do it right - it's more like a slow jog or a very fast walk - any faster and you'll be gassed. Any slower, and you'll be bored.
 

Jacob

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Yes. Helps to see it as a body building exercise and tell yourself it's developing your biceps. Which it will be!
 

D_W

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And for the softer minded (I'd probably be turned off by images of distance running or circuit training), it's much like swinging a hammer. you can get good at using the muscles (both in strength and endurance, but also in developing neurons beyond that, making you feel coordinated and dextrous...because you are) for sawing and then easily outwork people who are generally much more fit than you.

For someone who hates exercise that's pointless other than for the purpose of exercising, it's great. The neurons that you build hand sawing rough lumber and doing a good job at it (make no mistake for anyone who doesn't do it, doing it accurately actually saves time in subsequent steps, net time overall) magically make joinery cutting really easy.
 

welly

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I'm aware that Lie-Nielson saws are expensive - upwards of 130 quid but below 200. And for professionals, I can see them justifying that kind of money for a tool. However the Skelton Swift tenon saw is almost £500! Is it almost 300 quid more performant than the Lie-Nielson one? Would it last longer and objectively cut "better"?

Festool products are objectively better than say a Dewalt (I'm a very happy Dewalt owner) so you can understand why someone would spend more on those products, if they have the money. I'm struggling to believe that, as much as the Skelton saws are beautiful pieces of equipment, for the professional they would enable them to produce a better product or make their work more easy/efficient/accurate. I could be wrong though!
 

thetyreman

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welly":2gujbutt said:
I'm aware that Lie-Nielson saws are expensive - upwards of 130 quid but below 200. And for professionals, I can see them justifying that kind of money for a tool. However the Skelton Swift tenon saw is almost £500! Is it almost 300 quid more performant than the Lie-Nielson one? Would it last longer and objectively cut "better"?

Festool products are objectively better than say a Dewalt (I'm a very happy Dewalt owner) so you can understand why someone would spend more on those products, if they have the money. I'm struggling to believe that, as much as the Skelton saws are beautiful pieces of equipment, for the professional they would enable them to produce a better product or make their work more easy/efficient/accurate. I could be wrong though!
I haven't used either lie neilson or skelton saws but the skelton ones truly are handmade and from what I've seen to the absolute highest standards, which would explain the price point, there's a market for everything.
 

Jacob

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welly":280gxgpc said:
I'm aware that Lie-Nielson saws are expensive - upwards of 130 quid but below 200. And for professionals, I can see them justifying that kind of money for a tool. However the Skelton Swift tenon saw is almost £500! Is it almost 300 quid more performant than the Lie-Nielson one? Would it last longer and objectively cut "better"?

Festool products are objectively better than say a Dewalt (I'm a very happy Dewalt owner) so you can understand why someone would spend more on those products, if they have the money. I'm struggling to believe that, as much as the Skelton saws are beautiful pieces of equipment, for the professional they would enable them to produce a better product or make their work more easy/efficient/accurate. I could be wrong though!
These aren't tools for pros they're toys for boys. I'm sure they'd work fine though. :lol:
A professional would go ebay. I got 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. There's a lot of them about.
 

D_W

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LN's smaller joinery saws are good quality. Solid, and not expensive over here (about $120 for a dovetail saw or something - of course you can find saws for less used - I only have old english saws or self made saws, but I can't deny that I wouldn't make a dovetail saw for $120 as refined as theirs is).

Some of the bigger tenon saws (like thin plate 16" saws) are goofy and awkward, but they were egged on by Chris Schwarz as I recall.

The panel saws, in my opinion, are a bit of a novelty and I can't imagine that anyone is making a new saw that's better than a straight older saw. A colonial williamsburg toolmaker told me that he'd never needed to tension saws with modern 1095 because it was hard and stiff enough to not need it, but the process of running old saws through rollers at disston made fantastic saws, and i can't see how they could be beaten.

Point being, from my view, I'd avoid any expensive longer saw, and I wouldn't go with any short saw unless you're going to carry it around. For bench work, a 26" fine tooth saw is a lot better than a short stroker. for ripping, 26 is a functional minimum and for anyone average height, 28" is better.

There is another professional hand woodworker over here who bought LN saws early on and as he was moving away from his day job transitioning into making things by hand entirely for income, he asked me about saws and said the same thing when I talked to him later, that the LN saws felt like toys compared to a good vintage full sized saw like a disston 7/8/12 or D version of those.

$500 (or more) saws and $250-$400 long saws strike me as relationship tools (that a user is buying and using them for something other than just performance).
 

D_W

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thetyreman":1t75nhpp said:
welly":1t75nhpp said:
I'm aware that Lie-Nielson saws are expensive - upwards of 130 quid but below 200. And for professionals, I can see them justifying that kind of money for a tool. However the Skelton Swift tenon saw is almost £500! Is it almost 300 quid more performant than the Lie-Nielson one? Would it last longer and objectively cut "better"?

Festool products are objectively better than say a Dewalt (I'm a very happy Dewalt owner) so you can understand why someone would spend more on those products, if they have the money. I'm struggling to believe that, as much as the Skelton saws are beautiful pieces of equipment, for the professional they would enable them to produce a better product or make their work more easy/efficient/accurate. I could be wrong though!
I haven't used either lie neilson or skelton saws but the skelton ones truly are handmade and from what I've seen to the absolute highest standards, which would explain the price point, there's a market for everything.
I have made and used a fair number of saws. If one is going to make aesthetic saws with everything just right and do a lot of it by hand, a dovetail saw will literally take several days to make. I doubt anyone making really fine tools is making more than the median wage wherever they live, and if so, not by much.

LN's a boutique maker, but they are efficient. you get a lot of saw for the money with them, but even they are not necessary to do good work with as much vintage as there is floating around.

One of the problems with the internet is that when someone like me says there's no real practical performance reason for a 500 pound saw, it gets spun into all kinds of things that aren't what I just said in that statement. It doesn't by any means confirm that a maker is ripping someone off (in my opinion, they're not). They're making something that has value to customers beyond just performance.

Link to Wilson Groves Reproductions

After George wilson posted the two groves saw reproductions in the middle of this thread, he said with what people are getting for saws, he'd think about starting to make some again (that was just a thought, he's not going to do it). I asked him what he'd demand for a saw like the closed handle saw, and his answer was $500. The handle is as finely made as you'll ever see, he's as skilled as anyone you'll ever meet, and the spine of the saw is folded and then crisp facets are filed onto it.

Can you make a $125 saw do just as well cutting? I think so. Are there elements in george's saw that may never be duplicated in a production saw (the work on the handle, the facets on the brass, etc). I think so. Those subtleties are costly. He said (he made saws at CW in the tool shop as part of his day job - nobody will make something to that standard faster than he does) that the handles take about 5 hours of hand work for each. when I made handles, it took me closer to double that and the result wasn't as good. it would be difficult to make them in five hours. When he was working, he charged a shop rate of $50 and I'd guess he's thinking each saw would take 10 hours.

I would never dream of claiming that he's robbing people if he'd ask $500 for one of those saws. I don't have any boutique backsaws, but I would buy one.
 

Nigel Burden

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With the exception of a couple of my fathers old tenon saws and a S&J 24 inch crosscut saw that I bought new in 1967 when I left school, all of my saws are car boot or market purchases.
The last one was an old S&J 22inch filed rip cut at 10 tpi, cost £2. This saw needed sharpening and the teeth levelling which I did by filing across the tops of the teeth, but not enough to remove them, repeating the process until I had the teeth level. I didn't remove the teeth completely as they were evenly spaced and I didn't want to go to the bother of completely filing new teeth using a template. It now cuts ok, although not particularly fast. I have completely removed and re-filed the teeth on one Tyzack tenon saw. It took two or three attempts to get the spacing even, but it now cuts ok. I also made a small backless saw out of an old hard point saw that I use to rip down small stock. Not the best saw around but it works, and as it was only done to see if I could make a saw, and cost me nothing, then there was no loss.

As I am only a hobby woodworker, in fact I prefer making tools by hand, I could not justify paying a lot for a saw. In fact Paul Sellers did a comparison with a new £22 S&J non hard point and a high end saw, I can't remember the make, and he basically said that the S&J was virtually as good at a fraction of the price.

Nigel.
 
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