Quantcast
  • We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Saw recommendations?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
1
Location
Grantham
A little while ago I decided I should try and overcome my hatred for hand-planing, so I asked you fine people and the recommendation [that I listened to] was to pick up a second-hand Stanley or Record and tune that up. Now I'm cheerfully covering the floor of the garage in a layer of plane shavings and largely only using my P/T for thicknessing. I even bought a little plough plane which I take every opportunity to use instead of a router, and I keep looking at shoulder planes and jointer planes and thinking "maybe I should just get one" and it's all your fault.


Anyway, I'm just working on a little unsanctioned table (by which I mean: I haven't told my girlfriend about it so if it doesn't work out, she never needs to know! ;-)) which I thought I could practice my hand-cutting on, having lent the appropriate router that I'd usually use for cutting tenons to a friend at work. I'm quite happy using a chisel, but I still can't get to grips with precision hand-sawing. I have an Axminster gents' saw (which I can't stand, too difficult to get started in the right place) and a Japanese 'dozuki' (which I like more, thanks to the pull-to-cut action, but still have trouble being precise with). I'm using oak for my stretchers and aprons, so it's not just that the saw is cutting through the wood too quickly.

The question is: do I just need to cut a million tenons to practice enough to get the precision necessary, or is there a better type of saw for this kind of thing which I'm not aware of? I get the impression that one of the reasons I have trouble with the dozuki is because it's so long and unwieldy for the scale of work I'm doing right now, but maybe that's just an excuse? Presently I've resorted to cutting all my tenons near-exclusively with a chisel, which gets me the precision I want but takes forever...
 

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
1
Location
Grantham
deserter":7btb9s3m said:
I know this will sound obvious but have you tried a tenon saw?

The perfect way to cut a tenon in my opinion.
Not since woodworking classes in school ages ago, when my standards and the expectations upon them were lower anyway!

I've not run out to buy one because I already know I don't get on with several push-to-cut saws I have tried, and a decent one is a lot of money to spend on one or two cuts to confirm that I just don't like push saws in general! I could find a cheap one, but then if it didn't go well I'd have no idea whether I'm finding it difficult to use because it's cheap, or because I'm just rubbish at using that kind of saw.
 

AndyT

Established Member
Joined
24 Jul 2007
Messages
12,030
Reaction score
482
Location
Bristol
Hi Jake, nice to see you are responding well to the collective encouragement!

I think you have largely answered your own question by suggesting practice, and that you don't want to spend lots on something you won't like.

Practice is the thing that will make the most difference. It's hard for a hobby woodworker to get enough practice, but it's easy to get hold of bits of different wood for free and spend some time refining your technique. Either get a secondhand tenon saw that is in usable condition, or buy a hardpoint (choose the least nasty handle).

Two tips for sawing tenons which might help:

1 - Before you saw tenon cheeks, cut a little notch using a chisel or knife, so that you aren't trying to start the saw on a corner - give the teeth a little bit of a surface to work on.

2 - Try starting the cut on the far side of the work, with the handle lifted, and lower the handle (=engage more of the blade) as you go. This gives a clearer view of the line you are working to. This may not suit everyone, or every size of joint and type of timber.
 

MickCheese

Established Member
Joined
29 Sep 2006
Messages
2,444
Reaction score
1
Location
High Wycombe, Bucks
I don't find the small gents saws very easy to use. The straight handle takes a bit of getting used to.

Mick
 

Harbo

Established Member
Joined
13 Nov 2006
Messages
5,548
Reaction score
1
Location
Hampshire
At the Axy day they were displaying a Veritas magnetic saw guide that holds the saw vertically.
May be of some use until you get the hang of things, but practice makes perfect?

Rod
 

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
1
Location
Grantham
AndyT":1iv0w1hd said:
I think you have largely answered your own question by suggesting practice, and that you don't want to spend lots on something you won't like.
I don't mind spending a fair amount of money if it's going to get me a tool that I'll use - I'm just sceptical about a push-to-cut tenon saw being that tool! Maybe I'm lacking in technique, but I've never really got on with traditional western hand-saws.

I did take the opportunity to go and practice some more with the dozuki, though, and I've managed a couple of acceptable tenons with it now. Mostly by not cutting all the way, cutting a little way away from the line rather than beside it, and cleaning it all up with a chisel after removing the bulk of the waste... but it's still a lot quicker than doing all the removal with the chisel!

Thanks for the tips; I've been chiselling a little slope down to the line to align the saw with when cutting the shoulders - I think I saw it on a Paul Sellers video? - but I'm a little wary about trying it in the end-grain, I should probably just bite the bullet and give it a go on some scrap. Several hundred times. ;-)



MickCheese":1iv0w1hd said:
I don't find the small gents saws very easy to use. The straight handle takes a bit of getting used to.
To be honest, I'm fine with the straight handle; I used to do a lot of plastic kit modelling and used a tiny razor saw quite a lot, which has that configuration, and the Japanese saws all have straight handles. It's the push-to-cut that does me in! One of the apron pieces (which can thankfully face inwards and never be seen) has a little scar a millimetre or so from the tenon shoulder where the saw skipped sideways as I was pushing it forwards, which seems to be my recurring problem. Does there exist a saw the same size and weight as a gents' saw, but pull-cut?

(Also, it occurs to me that I keep seeing mentioned that saw X is for ripping, saw Y is for cross-cutting; since cutting tenons involves a bit of both, is there a particular tooth configuration or something that makes the most sense? I really don't know what the difference is between a rip saw and a cross-cut saw...)
 

Cheshirechappie

Established Member
Joined
30 Jan 2012
Messages
4,807
Reaction score
92
Location
Cheshire
There may be a way to break the 'backsaw phobia', without spending a fortune; if you pop into your nearest DIY shed you can purchase a hardpoint backsaw - say 12" (300mm) or so - for about a tenner. Try and get one with a reasonably comfortable handle, but don't worry about toothcounts and such which - just buy a backsaw.

Now, a couple of things to make using it easier.

First, the grip. Don't try to wrap all four fingers through the handle - point your index finger forward alongside the handle, towards the toe end of the saw. This will help with guiding it - if all your fingers wrap round the handle, the saw can pivot a bit in your fist, and make it trickier to steer. With your index finger pointing forwards, your grip is more rigid.

Second - don't squeeze the handle. Just caress it - grip it just tight enough to hold it. That way, your forearm muscles are more relaxed, and guiding the saw becomes easier again. If you tense up, you lose a lot of delicacy of control.

Third - saw slowly. About two strokes a second (or even slower) will allow you more time to control direction of cut. Once the cut is well established, you can speed up a bit; but start the cut with controlled slowness.

Fourth - it can help to 'take the weight off' when starting the cut. Put the toe of the saw on the work, place the ball of your thumb against the side of the blade to act as a 'side-guide' to start the cut on the right line, and then imagine that you're going to glide the teeth over the job without actually touching it. Then lower the saw very gently into cut. Once it's established a kerf, let the full weight of the saw do it's work.

Fifth - don't apply any downward pressure to the saw. Just allow it to cut under it's own weight. All you do is move it back and forth, and 'think it down the line'.

To start with, don't bother too much about rip cuts and crosscuts. A standard hardpoint will do both - not necessarily as well as a dedicated saw, but plenty well enough. Once you're fairly comfortable with the hardpoint, you can move on to the dedicated dovetail, rip tenon, carcase and all the rest of them.

If you search Youtube for 'Saw Sharpening', you'll find three clips by Matthew of Workshop Heaven fame. The third of these clips has some excellent demos of backsaw technique, which will undoubtedly help.

It's well worth getting to grips with backsaws - they are powerful and versatile tools once you're used to them. Good luck!
 

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
1
Location
Grantham
Cheshirechappie":mou56efx said:
if you pop into your nearest DIY shed you can purchase a hardpoint backsaw - say 12" (300mm) or so - for about a tenner.
A UKWorkshop member recommending I buy something from Wickes? Is it the apocalypse already? ;-)


Thanks for the tips - if it's just an investment of a tenner, I'll happily give it all a go on some spare bits of wood. I know (and try to do) about half that already, but I must admit I'd never thought of stuff like pointing a finger along the line of the saw, and figured that just the weight of the saw itself shouldn't be enough to stop it cutting... I've got too used to power tools, obviously! ;-)
 

AndyT

Established Member
Joined
24 Jul 2007
Messages
12,030
Reaction score
482
Location
Bristol
That's good advice from CheshireChappie. Having a properly sharp saw is a big help!
 
Top