Two Handles Dovetail or Tenon Saw?

The July-August issue of Woodworker West has an article by Kevin Glen-Drake, titled "An Alternative Approach for Handtool Joinery" that makes an interesting point AND involves two tools that are particularly interesting.
The point of the article is "If you're learning to handcut joints - a) start with a simple, single, "finger"/"box joint" - and here's the interesting part- b) use THICK stock. "You can't correct your mistakes unless you can see them, and bigger mistakes are easier to see."- makes a lot of sense.
Of course, being the guy the Glen-Drake Tite-Mark (tm) is named after because he invented it, he lays out the joint using one. the Tite-Mark, having a single bevel cutting/scribing wheel, leaves a nice square face on one side of the scribe - just what you need to register the edge of a chisel against, or to stop a shallow chisel cut. And since the whole idea of the exercise is to SEE what you've got - he chalks the scribed line to make it stand out. Good practice - but that's not what got me wondering.
The illustration of him sawing the joint is what has me baffled. He appaers to be using a two handles "back saw" - the "back" wishboning behind the blade into two parallel handles - and he's holding both of them when sawing. I've seen handsaws with an offset handle, and one that lets you flip it so it sticks out either on the right or left side of the blade. Never could understand why you'd need that with a back saw, since the "back" prevents you from sawing right up against a vertical face. But why a two parallel handles back saw - a mystery to me. Anyone have an explanation or see a benefit to two parallel handles?
The other interesting tool metioned is the "Kerf-Starter (tm) (all one line so watch the line wrap) http://play-glen-drake.com/v-web/ecommerce/os/catalog/product_info.php?products_idc&osCsid 99f973e46063d9d3a5df3ed05df74c Though it looks soemthing like a carving tool it actually works like a scraper - with the thickness of your saw's kerf. The resulting "scraped line" helps register your saw to the part - making the critical beginning of the cut a bit more controlled, and therefore easier.
Anyone have any personal experience with a Kerf-Starter?
charlie b
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Charlie, I don't know for sure, but I was taught that the box joint was actually designed to be made by machine. It is not easier to cut than a dovetail IF the layout of the dovetail joint is correct. It IS easier to lay out. Or so I was taught, but what the hell, that was 55 or so years ago, and we didn't have dual handle backsaws. I don't think I'd care for that, as my right hand would always try to lead, but, then, I've never tried it.
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No, but I don't even have a "carcus saw", so I guess I must really be missing out.
John Martin
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John Martin wrote:

There's always an english major in every group ; )
OK - carcase?
On more careful reading of the article, the saw in questions is another Glen-Drake invention - the Wild West Joinery Saw (tm) http://blogs.popularwoodworking.com/editorsblog/GlenDrake+Wild+West+Joinery+SawNew+Idea+In+Sawing.aspx
In addition to the dual parallel handles, the saw blade is also different - NO TEETH at the front or back.
My first reaction to the dual handle thing was "how do you set the blade against your thumb nail at the back of the line to get the cut started when both hands are on the handle". But then I remembered the Kerf-Starter )tm). If you use it first to cut a shallow, square sides and flat bottom "scribe line first" AND it's the width of your saw's kerf (they come in different thicknesses - saws and Kerf-Starters - you drop the far end of the saw blade in the shallow slot - no need to "thumb nail it" and, standing directly in line with the line to be cut - just push. No teeth on the back of the blade either, which means you can get some momentum on the back stroke before the teeth contact wood.
Now those "duh!" refinements seem like they'd overcome several potential problems when sawing joinery.
First, you've got an eye on either side of the line to be cut because you're standing square on to the blade and parallel to the face of the part to be cut. I suspect that alone would reduce "wandering".
Second, the start of the cut is critical to success - and that involves two things, keeping the blade aligned to the scribe line and getting the teeth to start cutting right from the get go.
With a "western" - cut on the push stroke - saw, even if you begin with a pulling back stroke before the power cutting push stroke, you have no momentum as the teeth begin cutting on the push stroke. And on the way back, you've got the teeth, with their set, chattering a little - and removing wood, albeit very little wood - providing a bit of resistance you must over come to return the saw blade ready for the next pushing cut. With no teeth at the back of the saw blade, the sides of the blade align with the side of the cut BEFORE any teeth get to the wood, so you've got some controlled momentum built up - with control - before then.
These little inovative improvements to a Tried And True joinery saw design may get me to go back to "western" saws for dovetails and other joinery sawing. I've got both a PAX and LN dovetail saw and getting the first saw cut is a jaw clencher, which is why I reach for a japanese "cuts on the pull stroke" dozuki or dovetail saw, the latter having more teeth per inch at the back and front of the saw. And the stick handle almost forces you to use finesse rather than the pistol grip "force it through the wood" arrangement. (I know, the handle's not there to squeeze the crap out of, but merely to provide a place against which to push - AND keep the blade from leaning - but if there's a pistol grip I seem to want to GRIP it!)
Leave it to Glen-Drake to think about a handtool, see it's weaknesses, and try to reduce, or eliminate those he can.
I'd like to try the Wild West Saw (tm) before forking over the dough - but it sure looks interesting and the logic behind it seems sound
charlie b
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No English major here, Charlie. Just someone who, when he sees an error like that on a commercial website, doesn't get a whole lot of warm fuzzy feelings about the product being offered.
Someone who also, on seeing all the words you've written about these products, wonders if you have some relationship with the company and might in fact be shilling for them.
John Martin
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Someone who also, on seeing all the words you've written about these products, wonders if you have some relationship with the company and might in fact be shilling for them.
Typical low class response by someone who doesn't have the intellect to understand why someone may support something and yet not have anything to gain by it. People like you are certainly suited for the mentally cynical cesspools that you like to inhabit.
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Typical response from someone so insecure about his own self image and place in society that he has to refer to himself as "Upscale".
Charlieb has said that he has no relationship with the company producing the tool, and that's good enough for me. Frankly, though, I'd rather read a book review by someone who has actually read the book as opposed to someone who has just read the publisher's promotional blurb. Or, in this case, by someone who has actually used the tool. Which I gather is Charlieb's preference as well, as after his analysis of how the Kerf-Starter might or might not work he asks for comments from anyone who has used one.
Charlieb says that it's a shame that some folks are so suspicious today. I agree. But the real shame is that it's become a necessity.
Charlieb appears to have decent amounts of both class and intellect. It's been my experience that those who state that those attributes are lacking in others have themselves been dealt a short hand. Now, I could be wrong about that - but I doubt it.
John Martin
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Is that the most original response you can come up with? Someone supports a product from a company, so without any proof whatsoever, you accuse them of being a shill. I use an alias because my name wasn't available as an option from my ISP so I must be insecure. You just don't have enough smarts to be original in any way, so you fall back on outdated and pointless attack methadology.

Just the fact that your opening salvo of disagreement was to accuse him a being a shill for some company tells everyone here that you're just a troll without imagination. Quite the pitiful troll actually. Ever have an original thought of your own?
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