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Thread: A Japanese saw and a western saw

  1. #1
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    Default A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Hi all,

    I'm in the market for a new saw (or two).

    I've been back through the forum's older posts and have enjoyed reading the lively debate between adherents of Japanese and western saws. But in these divisive political times, who wants to foster more strife? Instead of comparing the merits between the two, I'm looking for a recommendation of one of each.

    Specifically, I need a saw capable of making relatively quick and clean crosscuts through dimensional lumber (most often 2x4s, 2x6s, 4x4s), almost, but not exclusively, in softwoods.

    Previous to the current project, I made all such cuts on either the miter saw or the crosscut sled on my table saw, because those two tools make quick, clean, square cuts. Now, these cuts must be made quietly because my garage shop shares a wall with my 2yr old daughter's bedroom and my working time is going to be shoehorned into the 5am-8am and 7pm-10pm slots when she's asleep.

    I've also been inspired by many crafty forumites (and the inimitable Paul Sellers) to become a more proficient hand tool user, and learning to sharpen and maintain a western saw sounds like a worthy challenge. Which western saw would the forum recommend? There are lots of Disstons and others on eBay, but I wouldn't know what to look for. My budget doesn't extend to a new, modern saw.

    I currently use an Irwin ryoba for most smaller crosscuts, but it leaves a lot to be desired compared to the pull saws I used when I was living in Japan nearly twenty years ago. What are the options these days for decent mid-range Japanese saws?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    The standard Disston crosscut saw is a D-23 IIRC. I bought a lot of two beat up old D-23s last year for something like $25 on eBay. They could barely cut when I got them but I took them to a local saw sharpening shop and had them sharpened for 10 or 12 bucks a pop. Probably not as nice as a proper hand sharpening job but much cheaper and now I have two very serviceable crosscut saws for a $50 outlay. I don't know much about hand sharpening but I would guess it would have been a lot of work to bring these two specimens back to serviceable condition by hand.

    I also have a Japanese Ryoba saw that I bought at a local Japanese tool store, Hida Tool (online store--hidatool.com). It ran 35-40 bucks. They have a huge selection, I told them I was mostly cutting 1x and 2x and they suggested a 240mm model. It would be a little small to cut 4x. The one I got is for softwoods. I have been abusing it on oak lately and am going to need to get a new blade soon as a result, that will run about $20. There are ones meant for hardwood as well, I think they are a good bit more expensive. It is a wonderful tool, very precise and fast cutting.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    One of the things to consider is that the very narrow kerf Japanese saw takes out a lot less material. Now that doesn't matter much in terms of usage of lumber, but in terms of energy needed to make a given cut they're very efficient, and my impression is that they're noticeably quieter than the "push" crosscut.
    I own a goodly collection of handsaws, my two Sandvik professional grade 10 points, and the big Jack and Disston saws have only gathered dust since I lashed out and bought the three different pull saws that I use.

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    I have a fair number of different hand saws and they’re all useful in certain situations. Only the cheapy Irwin japenese pull saw lives on the boat. It’s a good saw.
    -Jim

    Sucker for a pretty face.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    I have a decent collection of older Disston saws and keep them sharp. They are very good. But I almost exclusively use Japanese saws in the shop, and circular saws outside. Yesterday I used one of the handsaws for the first time in months I think.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Vaughan makes very good pull saws(Bear Saw,I think it's called), in a decent range of styles with replaceable blades.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Definitely Japanese pull saws for cross-cuts in softwoods. A good sharp western panel saw will give a Japanese saw a run for its money in hardwoods like oak if you let the weight of the plate do the work. On rip saws the longer plate of a western saw may suit you better
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Thanks for the replies.

    Anyone have experience with Z-saws or Gyokucho branded pull saws? Some of the woodworking forums seems to recommend them as decent mid-range Japanese saws.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Mine is a Gyokucho.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Thanks nrs5000.

    How do we feel about this?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    It has been nearly fifty years since I discovered and purchased my first Japanese pull saw. It was a revelation for me! I had been of the opinion that my Dad's Diston was all I needed! Now, I rarely use a Western style handsaw in my work. In truth it is an easier saw to work with once one learns that most of the saws are specialized for specific uses. While the replacable blade Ryobas are practical for general work, there are others that are designed for all manner of joinery and hardness of woods. A good Japanese carpenter can have as many as forty different hand made saws in his kit! Each one being designed for a specific kind of work and a different kind or hardness of wood! Some, such as the Azebiki are designed to start in the middle of a panel by cutting their own slot! There are saws with a variety of different tooth shapes to fill this need. Some saws In addition, a good hand made Ryoba has finer teeth at the heel than at the tip of the saw. This allows for easy and accurate starting of the cut. Also, a good blade is made up of three laminations of steel and are tensioned to track true and not buckle in the kerf of the work. Hand made blades are scrape tapered to be hour glass shaped in cross section and thicker at the heel than at the tip. If you have a fixed blade pull saw, note that if there are tiny prick marks on the blade this is made by the saw tuner who tensions the blade with a pointed hammer. The hour glass shape allows for a reduction in blade friction and also eliminates the tendancy for the blade to buckle on the return stroke. All in all, I have found the non replaceable bladed saws to be of better balance in the hand than are the interchangeable bladed saws. While the more modestly priced saws are good for general cutting, if you check on Utube there are a lot of videos that show how accurate and easy to use the fixed bladed saws are when really fine work is needed.

    Here is a demo video of an Azebiki saw cutting a hole in a plywood panel with no pre cut starting slot. There is a vast diversity of sizes and shapes of this versatile style of pull saw.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEIiuriXHy0

    Jay

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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbear View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    Anyone have experience with Z-saws or Gyokucho branded pull saws? Some of the woodworking forums seems to recommend them as decent mid-range Japanese saws.
    I have a Gyokucho Noko Giri timber framing saw and a smaller ryoba, I also have a collection of Diston and other western saws. I've learned how to sharpen the western saws and joint as well as set the points The saws work much better when sharp, but it took me near a year to perfect the sharpening technique.

    As Mr Greer states , I find myself reaching for the Japanese pull saws most of the time. I can cut clear through an 8x8 timber without having to roll it with the Gyokucho Noko Giri timber framing saw, where I would have to roll it with a circular saw, and cut much faster than a Deston.

    see them here:

    https://timberframehq.com/best-hand-...imber-framing/
    PaulF

  13. #13
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Here are a few of the Japanese saws I have. Note the special ryoba at the top of the picture. It is a hardwood saw. The teeth are similar in shape to western saws but graduated in size from heel to tip. The blade has a curve on both of the cutting rows. This allows only three teeth to be in contact with the hard wood as the blade is pulled making the blade more efficient by allowing dust to not compact in the gullets during the strokes.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 07-06-2019 at 11:33 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Here are a few Azebiki pull saws. There are a lot of these available in different sizes. The narrow one is for Bamboo.
    Jay

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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Cool. I'm sure they're a pleasure to use.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    The real advantage of these saws is that they can be started in the middle of a plank with no holes provided.
    Bird

  17. #17
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    The bamboo saw is used to cut inside of a tube.
    Jay

  18. #18
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbear View Post
    Anyone have experience with Z-saws or Gyokucho branded pull saws? Some of the woodworking forums seems to recommend them as decent mid-range Japanese saws.
    solid usable saws for the price. Gyokucho makes a huge range of saws - I have a couple Ryoba and a couple dozuki. I think Hida Tool has the best selection/information/usable website unlike the utter garbage that is Japan Woodworker. Whoever designed the JW/woodcraft website never tried to order a tool from it, that's for damn sure.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    How was the wedding, Blackbear? Pretty hot today. If you didnít get a your saws yet you are really close to Shelter Tools in Woolwich. It canít be ten minutes from Wiscasset. They have a fantastic selection of hand tools.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    And Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is just up Rt 1 in Warren.

    Their big open house/lobster bake is a week from today.


  21. #21
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    Default A Japanese saw and a western saw

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbear View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    Anyone have experience with Z-saws or Gyokucho branded pull saws? Some of the woodworking forums seems to recommend them as decent mid-range Japanese saws.


    I have Z-saws. Love them. Teeth are impulse-hardened to Rockwell 65-68. Harder than a file - they can't be sharpened. You just replace the blade. They cut great. Blades last a long time unless you abuse them.

    https://www.z-saw.co.jp/en/index.html

    Tashiro's Hardware used to sell (pretty sure Mr. Tashiro has gone West now) the complete line of Zeta/Z-saws. Even sold just the blade holder so one could make handles to suit yourself.

    But his web site is still up. http://www.tashirohardware.com/Tashi...ware/Home.html

    Tashiro's opened in 1885, with a slight closure from 1942 to 1945. This is it in Seattle's Nihonmachi back in the day.

    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. ó P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  22. #22
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    My God! It was a woodworker's palace of dreams!
    Jay

  23. #23
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    My God! It was a woodworker's palace of dreams!
    Jay

    If you went in to their last shop, before Mr. Tashiro closed it in the late 90s/early oughties, you were likely to get a seminar on proper sharpening technique. Best to figure that into your plans for the day.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. ó P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  24. #24
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    Default Re: A Japanese saw and a western saw

    There is still a Japanese Hardware Store located in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles that offers a large variety of traditional wood working tools. I bought my first pull stroke block plane from The Anzen Hardware over fifty years ago!
    Jay
    https://www.kcet.org/shows/departure...ng-institution

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