Yesterday I took a day off work. The morning was spent in
parent-teacher interviews, but I spent the entire rest of the day at the
wood show. I go every year, and it's the best entertainment money I ever
spend. Inspiring turnings and carvings, informative seminars, friendly
people, and tools everywhere. Felt great!
I was shopping for a dovetail saw, and I was able to do a couple of
really poor but telling comparisons. First I tried the Lie-Nielson dovetail
saw on a piece of aspen that was maybe 3/8" thick, tops. The cut wasn't
perfectly perpendicular to the end, but I'll take full blame for that. I
wasn't really trying to line it up. But the cut was very straight over the
entire inch to inch and a half of its length, and it was very easy to make.
Crosscutting wasn't quite as easy, but no big deal. The show price was
$150Cnd. I can't remember if it was tax included, but probably it was,
judging from other exhibits.
On to Lee Valley. I really wanted to try their Pax saw ($100 + tax),
and my buddy George spotted one way up high on the wall, thank goodness.
The salesman gave me a try on a piece of maple, likely 1/2" thick (there's
where the comparison breaks down a bit). It cut reasonably quickly for the
material, but it was much much harder to control, wobbling from side to side
and producing a much wider kerf. The cut wasn't as straight as the LN saw,
there was some tearout, and if you left the saw in the kerf you could swing
it side to side (yaw) and twist it to and fro (roll) over a surprising
range. It seemed a bit short in length, too, because after reaching a bit
of depth it started riding up where the handle was hitting the wood. I was
definitely disappointed, because I was seriously considering buying this
tool. $150 seems like a lot to spend on something made with just a few
non-moving parts; it was enough for me to work up to the idea of spending
$100 on the Pax saw. (Please, no lectures--it's my personal opinion and
I'm entitled to it. I seem to be learning a lesson here, so let me take my
The salesman said he had been considering buying that tool for himself,
too, and since he had only been using the gent's saw ($23+tax) he was
interested in my opinion. We hauled it down and frankly it performed better
than the Pax saw. It took a LOT longer to reach the same depth of cut, but
the cut was better. He floated the idea of changing the set on the Pax saw,
but George pointed out just how much work that would be, and considering the
risk, it's probably not a good choice. I left feeling that I'll probably
buy the gent's saw for the time being. (I have another friend who's using
one and he's not complaining. Maybe I'll just put a different handle on
"If we can't afford to do it right, we certainly can't afford to do it
wrong and then do it right." Have any of you tried to make do with a gent's
saw only to turn around and buy something like the LN (or Adria, which I
hear is also as good as the LN)? I'm interested in hearing your reactions
to my story, above.
There's a guy selling a General 6" jointer for $800C, tax included, plus
a good deal on a mobile base. It really seems like a good deal to me. That
was the show special, but he told me he'd extend the deal for me to give me
time to think about it, and talk to SWMBO. She has actually given me the
go-ahead, but I'm the one responsible for filling the bank account and with
my other purchases this would definitely put me over budget for this year.
(I can hear the response now. "You moron, SWMBO gave you the go-ahead, so
go ahead!") I think I just want to hear from you folks that this is indeed
a good jointer, and a good deal for a good jointer. It's the one with the
enclosed base. Anybody?
I had a great time at the show, but I tossed and turned all night
thinking about that jointer. I'm the sort of eskimo that'll buy a fridge so
I'm wary of being pitched to by expert salesmen. (Sucks to be me, eh?)
- Owen -
Never used a Pax saw...
The gent's saw didn't cut it for me at all. And a Japanese style pull saw
never fit my style particularly well either.
So I bought an Adria. And a couple of LN saws. They are really nice tools
to have, and when I cut joinery for special projects, I'm really glad I
spent that money. There's usually more money, eventually at least.
If you're going to have an addiction...
I own the 6" jointer in question and it's a great machine. My first thought
was $800 is a bit steep, but I suppose you have to pay PST and GST... so
it's probably a very good savings. The only thing I can say is: If you've
got the go ahead for a 6", maybe you can talk her into a 8"! Just
kidding, I'm sur eyou'll be very happy with the jointer.
Preface: I'm a tool freak AND have no SWMBO to rein my addiction in.
I have and use
the LN dovetail saw - with rosewood handle
the PAX dovetail saw
the PAX tenon saw
a Disston gents saw
a mystery gents saw
a japanese dozuki with the curved end
the Odate japanese dovetail saw
a triangular saw file
a "feather" file
a tooth setting "plier"
(I'll skip the other japanese saws - their more of a
If you are getting wobble and roll while
cutting I suspect the source is the loose
nut holding the handle (sorry, but a
well tuned saw will cut straight if used
properly, almost regardless of the price)
If you want a thin kerf, precise cuts with
a nice finished surface - go with a dozuki
or japanese dovetail saw. They're finesse
saws, not brute force saws so they're not
"three stroke" saws. They're also one
quarter to half the price of the "better"
Try one, even a relativley inexpensive
one and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
(I got the PAX saws to cut dovetails in
the apron of my bench - the LN wouldn't
cut deep enough, nor would the japanese
It's slow cutting. even for a japanese saw. But it's
not really intended for really hard woods or stuff
over 1/2 inch thick . It's a "delicate" work saw.
Great for cherry, poplar, birch, mahogany and
the lkfe. Not so great for A&C/ Greene & Greene/
Stickley style QS oak or woods like bubinga, rosewood,
The dozuki cuts pretty quick in just about anything.
Not as fast as a western push saw, but the finish
The nice thing about the japanese saws is that
you have almost an infinite number of grip
positions. When doing the horizontal/shoulder
cuts on tenons and the end waste on dovetail pins
the grip, the balance and the weight of a western
push saw work against you. Not the case on
japanese pull saws.
Like hand planes, there are saws for all occassions.
Yes, I'd buy the Odate dovetail saw again - even without the
25% discount. It works particularly well in soft woods
that the LN and PAX tend to tear up a bit. I wouldn't want
to cut dovetails in 3/4" maple, but for stuff like cherry
and mahogany - it's a dream saw.
As for an Adria, my saw addiction is under control - for
now. But the turning chisels and gouges are appearing
with startling frequency. Like junk dealers, they sell
you a midi lathe cheap, knowing that you'll be spending
5 times that on accessories and tools.
Just an interjection here, as inexperienced.... I read that the steel of the LN
shipped from Sweden, and as a finished saw it is RC 52 hardness. I also read
steel is RC 54 and that is a good difference. This is what turned me off about
saws for the price. I have also read that the standard RC for (American?) "cast
is 60 as a standard, but I bet that that is WAY too expensive to amortize into
these days. I know I could be wrong.
I think the big love about LN saws is that the teeth are a masterfully filed
to both the intention of the job (type of saw) and the thickness of the blade,
perfect* cutting. I imagine as well that one could buy a cast steel, warrented
saw of old, and with a learned comprehension of filing, setting and sharpening,
to make it as good as any LN or Adria saw, given that the blade is 0.020" thick.
Has your LN ever needed sharpening, like too soon? (just curious)
Some saw stuff: http://www.norsewoodsmith.com /
Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
I'm starting to wonder how much of all the "objective", "technical
specs", "special manufacturing methods" really tells you about
how well a hand powered cutting tool will perform (and maybe
how long it will continue to perform that way in use over time)
RC 52 vs 54, induction hardened, bi-metal, laminated,
titatnium coated, chrome molly, special teeth grinds,
3/32nds vs "a full 1/8th inch thick!" - impressive
but is this info really significant when it comes to you
using the tool.
Graham Blackburn is, shall we say, "partial" to handtools
for many common woodworking functions. He points out
that the right choice of tool for a task, proper preparation
of a handtool, and proper use of it have a greater effect
on the end result than all the techno hype the marketing
departments come up with to get you to buy their stuff
rather than a competitor's.
Since it's saws we're discussing, let's use one as an
example. Handsaws have been around for a long time.
Before high carbon steel, before high speed steel and before
induction hardening came along, craftsman were
making pretty fine joinery using what today's
marketing departments would call "primitive" saws.
How'd those guys get by with crappy saws?
Let's skip technique, learned probably via a long
and riqorous apprenticeship, and focus on the tool.
Do you know the difference between the teeth on
a rip saw vs a cross cut saw vs a combination saw.-
the angles, the tpi and set - and why? What happens
when there's too much or too little set to the teeth?
How significant is it if a tooth or two is set out
too far or too little? Did you know that tuning
a "western/push" handsaw, assuming it isn't a
50 TPI, isn't all that hard - though it can be
a little time consuming if the tpi gets up above
20 or so? (I'm excluding japanese pull saws
because they are far more complicated than
Back to Graham Blackburn. In one of his
presentations, he takes a $14 gents saw
and tunes it. The set on this one is too
big. Too much set means a wider kerf,
more work, causes a tendency to wander
in the cut and leaves a bad surface behind.
A minute of tapping the teeth on a steel
plate with a small hammer, frequent
sighting down the blade, more taop and
that problem's taken care of.
A close look at the tips of the teeth
show that their not sharp points.. Clamp
the saw between two pieces of wood,
run a mill file over the tips until they're
all flat - just a little - and in a plane.
Next, a small triangular file, a few strokes
on the cutting direction side of every other
tooth, stroking at a slight angle to the long
axis of the saw blade, and the flat tip
becomes a sharp point. Down the blade he
goes, stroke, stroke, skip a tooth and repeat.
Turn the saw around and he does the other
Before removing the saw he checks for
any flat topped teeth that might have been
missed. A stroke of the file here and
there and he's done.
Next he grasps the saw handle - lightly,
index finger pointing down the side of
the blade, hand relaxed. The thumbnail
on the opposite hand is place on the
far edge of the board and the saw blade
is set against it - a short human fence.
Two or three light pulls on the saw
and then s push stroke - letting the
weight of the saw determine the depth
of cut of the saw pass, the hand merely
steering it. No white knuckles, no
forcing the teeth down into the cut
by white knuckling the handle - but
a relaxed, hold a baby chick, grip, the
heel of the hand doing the pushing.
The saw cuts a nice, clean straight
line almost effortlessly. Thumbnail,
set the saw, pull, pull and stroke.
another cut is made. No hand cramps,
no clenched teeth, no furrowed brow-
the hand and the saw do what they're
suppose to do - no sweat. It's all
tool prep and the right technique.
Great technique can compensate
for a less than perfect tool. No
expensive hand tool will compensate
for crappy technique.
Knowledge is power. Skill is
earned, not purchased. Patience
is a virtue. And "it's not the
meat but the motion".
ramble mode off
On Sat, 10 Dec 2005 01:08:12 GMT, with neither quill nor qualm, Lobby
That's a task which, once you master it, takes very little time.
The first time make a couple hours, the second an hour, the third
half an hour, and consecutive times perhaps 10 minutes. (insert
"riding bicycle" simile here)
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