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Last Updated: , Created: Sunday, September 30th, 2001

How do you use a Japanese saw?

For the same task, Japanese saws are smaller, require less energy to make the cut, waste less wood, can trim 1/16 of an inch off the end of a board and keep their sharpness longer because they are made of tempered steel. All of that is possible because the Japanese pull their saws and we push ours. When you push a saw it must be malleable so as to not break, so the steel is softer. When you push a saw it has to be stronger to avoid bending, so it is thicker. Add to that the social reality that the Japanese traditionally worked low down, often sitting so they often work at or below their wood, rather than looming over it as we do.

The Japanese have put the rip teeth on one side and the cross teeth on the other side of the saw because they would build with a lot of tennons and this allowed cutting the tennons without having to change saws.

Take short quick strokes with a Japanese saw, it was designed for that. You can't control the front end much, so if it wanders from the line, turn yourself or the work around and draw from the other side. It is often useful with a Japanese saw to work a shallow groove around most of three sides of the cut to guide the saw into the meat below without drifting, something that is done so quickly that you forget you are even doing it.

More and more the Japanese saws are showing up in regular stores, or western saws with almost Japanese like teeth. I have included some Japanese saws in my on-line store because I like them so much I hardly ever use a western saw any more. The Silky saw that I have chosen is slightly thicker steel than most, because I find that westerners have a real problem not creating a slight vibration while pulling the saw. After all, the Japanese apprenticeships lasted for years. I have also chosen it for one of the sturdiest and most comfortable of the handles and handle to blade connections.

A special thanks to my daring apprentice Gordon Runge, who had never tried a Japanese saw before.

Now you can even get those Japanese saw teeth on a power tool, the FEIN MultiMaster E-Cut blades.

Keywords: Woodworking, Saws, Tools

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