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Starting from scratch for hand saws

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Junah

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I am just building up my tool kit and wondered what brand I should buy into? If I wanted a range of 4-5 decent saws, what selection do you recommend for a rip saw, dovetail, panel and tenon saw, giving a range of tpi and covering most tasks. I like the look of the Bad Axe range but would prefer to buy British if I can.
 

mbartlett99

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Yikes, skelton are beautiful but just a touch pricey!

Have a look at the Flinn Garlick range; Sheffield made and their Pax range have a good rep.
 

AndyT

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For a lot of jobs, the level of sharpness you get on a cheapish hardpoint saw makes them a good choice.
However, I was cutting some flooring grade chipboard the other day. I needed to cut it at a shallow angle - about 20°. Thinking that a hardpoint saw was generally good for chipboard, I started off with one. It was too slow, too hard.
I swapped to an old Warranted Superior, close cousin to the Disston D8. There was probably twice as much steel in it as in the shorter, narrower, thinner hardpoint and it made a tremendous difference. It reminded me of what our school woodwork teacher used to repeat "Let the saw do the work." In other words, your arm should only be moving the saw back and forth; its own weight should be all you need to make the downwards cut.
So whatever you buy, prefer a heavy saw over a light one.
 

D_W

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Personally, I don't think any of the custom saws make fiscal sense. It's important that you learn to sharpen and set a saw, and on the small tooth saws, it's not critical that you do perfect work.

There are gobs of lovely old saws in the UK for 30-40 quid (backsaws), and very good manufactured saws (like LN and LV). The carpenter saws, if you're going to do rough work, or perhaps try to find a 24 inch 12 tooth saw, should be vintage. There's nothing to be had for reasonable new, and the process in making them is more of an industrial process.

A 200 to 400 pound custom saw makes about as much sense as does a $3,000 infill. They both work very well right away, but both are a waste of money if your point of focus is making things and not "having things". Fine sawing is never going to be an appreciable part of the time in a project, just like smooth planing is a small part of the time. And no infill will outperform a skilled user with a stanley plane, just as no new saw will outperform a skilled user who is using an older saw that they're familiar with. And certainly, no new user with several thousand pounds worth of smooth planes and dovetail saws will come close to matching a competent user with old saws and planes (which allow you to focus on getting the work done rather than protecting your tools from damage or rust).

There is merit, too, in the hardpoint crosscut saws that are about 15 quid. They will crosscut large stock faster than you can file an old saw to crosscut (they are a bit rough on the backside of a cut, though), and if you ever have a trouble job, you don't have to sacrifice a good saw doing it. I keep one of the short ones with large teeth, and one of the panel saws that's 26 inches long.
 

Sideways

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I'm a fan of jaanese pull saws. Sun child (Gyokucho) brand are my favorite mass produced saws.
 

Junah

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Thanks for the advise, I know I will have to learn to sharpen them, must be something on YouTube when I am ready.
 

D_W

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Start with the small saws with rip teeth, find the files, do a little reading and then give it a go. Starting with something fairly inexpensive like a rip dovetail saw from LN or LV ( if you're not confident that you can make a 150 year old saw cut well from the start), and then unloading it if you get your wings and decide the inexpensive stuff is good enough is a good policy. It gives you a bar to match.

One tip for the older saws. If you're buying an old saw with a back, make sure the blade is straight (as much as you can tell), all of the teeth are there in fairly good shape (broken teeth is often a signal that you'll break more teeth), and that the saw plate isn't pitted (oh, and that the handle is in good shape). All of those things should be attainable for a fraction of the price of even a LV saw if you look around. No rush.
 

Jacob

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Junah":37591f6q said:
.... I like the look of the Bad Axe range but would prefer to buy British if I can.
:shock: Bad Axe are cheap - there are more expensive ones about if you are buying by price!

Most I ever paid was about £15 for a modern second hand S&J 12" tenon. I paid £5 for an antique 14" S&J.
I'm fairly confident that as saws these will work just as well as Skelton et al. They'll also hold or increase their price which Bad Axe and Skelton certainly won't.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Junah":ghu0hu6b said:
Thanks for the advise, I know I will have to learn to sharpen them, must be something on YouTube when I am ready.
Indeed there is! This is a long one (two and a quarter hours :shock: ) and probably best digested in bite-sized chunks, but it's all there, including equipment, theory and demonstrations;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-_MF2Mnxwc

It's also worth hunting out some of Paul Sellers' saw sharpening videos for his simple 'saw vice' ideas. There are plenty of others, of course, and books, and website tutorials available for the cost of a quick google.

Saw sharpening is one of those things that's a bit daunting to start with (there does seem to be a lot of kit and things to remember!) but it's actually not that bad once you've jumped in. It may take a couple of saws to get the hang of it, and maybe ten or so to become confidently neat and quick, but it's well worth the effort. Certainly less bother than finding a decent saw doctor, and the price of doctoring two or three saws will pay for all the kit. It's fun, too!
 

DBT85

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Junah":33fb1zu2 said:
Thanks for the advise, I know I will have to learn to sharpen them, must be something on YouTube when I am ready.
Unless you buy quite an expensive saw in the first place, sharpening it as soon as you get it will make is quite superior to how it left the factory.
 

Tasky

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Junah":2avkf411 said:
Thanks for the advise, I know I will have to learn to sharpen them, must be something on YouTube when I am ready.
You are ready now, young Padawan...

Paul Sellers vid comparing a £20 saw to a £200 (approximately) saw and demonstrating how to file that same saw for either cross-cutting or ripping:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrqGxRsO1NE

TBH, at that price, you could buy two and sharpen one to each task.... heck, for under £100 buy spares of each, as well, so you can practice getting the first pair right and then get the second pair bang on!!

He also reckons it's a good steel with which to get started on learning to sharpen... Might be so, but worth a punt at that price.
 

Silly_Billy

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AndyT":7ibhiujt said:
For a lot of jobs, the level of sharpness you get on a cheapish hardpoint saw makes them a good choice.
I bought cheapish hardpoint saws and haven't felt the need to upgrade. If I had the money, however, then I too have heard good things about the Flinn Garlick range. Good to support a British company that's still making high-quality tools.

mbartlett99":7ibhiujt said:
Have a look at the Flinn Garlick range; Sheffield made and their Pax range have a good rep.
 

thetyreman

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A ryobi saw is a good first one because it has both rip and crosscut in one saw, that's what I did for ages before getting any western saws, the downside is it's harder to use and master, but very good value, there's a good spear and jackson one that sellers rates highly, but the old ones are still cheaper and just as good once sharpened up.
 

deema

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I would buy one really decent hand saw initially so you know what they should feel like when properly sharpened. I’d buy either a Pax as suggested or, a Veritas. (Unless you know someone who can properly sharpen a Saw for you initially, in which case skip buying a modern quality saw - it’s actually very easy to sharpen a Saw)

The most useful Saw I think is a 14” rip with a brass back. The 14” is just the blade length.id loom for something with about 14PPI. It will cover probably 99% of most bench joinery work.

For all of your other saws I would (and do) buy secondhand preferably at car boots sales where the prices are far lower generally than the auction sites.

I put together a thread of how to buy, restore and sharpen a cheap secondhand Saw here

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

richarddownunder

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Junah":33n49jle said:
I am just building up my tool kit and wondered what brand I should buy into? If I wanted a range of 4-5 decent saws, what selection do you recommend for a rip saw, dovetail, panel and tenon saw, giving a range of tpi and covering most tasks. I like the look of the Bad Axe range but would prefer to buy British if I can.

I'm sure Skelton saws are wonderful and I'd like one. If you have the money go for it. I have a number of Pax saws I got new. I enjoy using them, their dovetail rip saw is very nice. I also use my 22 inch panel saw quite a bit. As well as that, there are lots of decent second-hand saws as people have said. It all depends on your budget, but some folk seem to only want to spend a few bob on second hand tools and so the search for these becomes the aim in itself (been there). If spending time hunting out second hand stuff is their hobby, that is fine. Sometimes its better use of time to buy a new quality tool that you'll keep for years and enjoy using. I like the advice to buy a decent new saw so you know what its like to use, then as second hand ones pop up, you will have a target for restoration, if that is how you want to use your time.
 

Keith 66

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I have a good selection of Distons that i have inherited & acquired over the years, however after i discovered the Japanese pull saw they just live in their drawer gathering dust!
 

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