My concerns about western saws

Some teeth went missing from my Japanese Ryoba saw when cutting through some hardwood. I’m not upset – this saw has lasted for almost two years and it never pretended to be more than disposable.

My reason to get one in the first place was because it was cheap and I had no sharpening skills. It made me feel like a pro from the get-go. But now I have a little more confidence that I can look after a western saw and avoid consuming a series of Ryoba blades (that cost will add up!). Maybe I’m far enough along to tackle a western saw…

…but the tasks set for my Ryoba (which has a crosscut and a rip side) would have to be addressed by at least two of its western counterparts, not to mention the replacements for my smaller Ryoba and Dozuki. There is an up-front cost that frightens me a little.

Chris Schwarz has a couple of nice blog articles on saw selection (The Saws You Need and A  Nest of Saws) and there is also this primer from The Saw Blog. I still have a small Dozuki for now so a dovetail saw can wait. I’m going to start with some hand saws for getting large boards cut to size. I have no band saw, so a ripsaw is on the list.

The last concern I have with western saws is that they need a team of support tools to go with them: triangular and flat files, a jointer or jig to hold the file, a saw set, a saw vise (which I think I can make) and ultimately somewhere to store them.

So there are some tools to gather and some up-front cost and the worry that sharpening will be difficult. This week, some old Disston hand saws were delivered to my doorstep (thanks Joe!). One big crosscut, and one big rip saw. I’ve taken the plunge.

After I gather the saw-set, jointer, files and make a saw vise, I’ll document my progress in tuning these old saws.


4 thoughts on “My concerns about western saws

  1. I have a moxon vise and with the saw handle removed, I can use that for sharpening my saw. I’ll also build a saw vise in the future as I don’t like taking the handles on and off my saw, but if you have to take them off anyway for some saw plate cleaning or handle refreshing and have a moxon, that could get you on the way to a sharp saw w/o building a saw vise.

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