Popular Woodworking 2003-10 № 136, страница 77

Popular Woodworking 2003-10 № 136, страница 77

This $18 Disston #4 backsaw cuts incredibly well now that it has been properly sharpened.The handle on vintage Western saws will fit your hand like a glove. Later handles are uncomfortable to use and look crude by comparison.

Western Saw Tips

Once sharpened, a Western saw is easier to use than you might think. Here are a few tips:

• Though it sounds obvious, use a rip saw for rip cuts, such as dovetailing. Some dovetail saws are filed for crosscut. They work

Japanese Crosscut Teeth • Note the long slender teeth and three bevels filed on each tooth.The tips are discolored from impulse-hardening.

Western Crosscut Teeth • You can

see the simpler secondary bevels (called the "fleam") filed on every other tooth.

OK, but not as well as a rip saw.

• Let the saw do the work. Don't use a lot of downward pressure on the kerf - this is surely the No. 1 problem faced by beginners. The saw will wander and you'll never cut straight.

• Don't clench the handle tightly. Hold the saw with just enough pressure to keep it under control. And use only three fingers - your index finger should point down the blade.

Worst of Both Worlds?

All this has to make you wonder why someone hasn't built a saw that merges the best qualities of both traditions. Well, a few companies have tried, though nothing has been able to challenge the dominance of the pure Japanese-style saw.

And the reason might be illustrated by the experience of one veteran woodworker.

A few years ago, Blackburn was poking around a flea market and discovered a beautiful old Spear & Jackson backsaw.

The saw had a perfectly shaped handle, much like the one on the outstanding Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw. But the blade of this Spear & Jackson was horribly bent. So Blackburn hung it on his wall.

"I take issue with Japanese saws being easier to use for beginners. I think it's just the opposite. A sharp and tuned Western saw is much easier to learn to use."

— Thomas Lie-Nielsen, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

One day a friend noticed the saw and offered to send it to Japan to see if they could straighten it out. Blackburn agreed. The saw came back a few months later straight as an arrow but with one major and shocking change.

They had filed Japanese-style teeth on the blade. Trying to keep an open mind, Blackburn gave it a try. "It cuts well," he says, "but it feels wrong to me. So it still hangs on the wall."

Chalk it up to this: When it comes to traditional hand-tool skills, it's hard to defy tradition. Now you just have to decide which tradition is best for you. PW


Adria Woodworking Tools

604-710-5748 or adriatools.com

• Premium Western joinery saws


• Books and videos on traditional Western woodworking


• Detailed information on Disstons



• E. Garlick and Lynx saws

Geoffrey Killen's Egyptian Site


• Information on Egyptian woodworking tools and furniture

Hida Tool

800-443-5512 or hidatool.com

• Range of Japanese saws

Japan Woodworker

800-537-7820 or japanwoodworker.com

• Full range of Japanese saws and some Western saws



• Range of Japanese tools, including some hard-to-find types

Lee Valley Tools

800-871-8158 or leevalley.com

• Impulse-hardened Japanese saws

• Wide range of Western saws

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

800-327-2520 or lie-nielsen.com

• Premium Western joinery saws

Tashiro Hardware

206-328-7641 or tashirohardware.com

• Impulse-hardened Japanese saws

Tom Law

301-824-5223 or 62 W. Water St., Smithsburg, Md.21783

• Western saw sharpening


• Restored vintage Western handsaws and sharpening supplies

Woodcraft Supply Corp.

800-225-1153 or woodcraft.com

• Impulse-hardened Japanese saws and some Western saws



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