Hand Tool Journey #3: Amazing find... Maebiki-nokogiri

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Blog entry by Blake posted 05-18-2009 05:48 PM 12398 reads 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: My first Krenov Style Plane Part 3 of Hand Tool Journey series Part 4: Building a Work Bench »

So as I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have been studying and collecting Japanese hand tools. And my favorite book which has inspired the collection is JAPANESE WOODWORKING TOOLS by Toshio Odate.

In this book there is a section on saws (Nokogiri) where Odate proudly displays a favorite in his collection:

This saw was a rip saw used to mill large stock. The wide blade was designed to keep the cut straight in very thick lumber. It was used by the mighty kobiki-shokunin (sawyer). According to the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum it was probably produced and used during Japan’s Meiji era (1868-1912).

Well, this is what I found at the flee market on Friday, and paid $10 bucks for:

Its in amazing condition. Even the original handle is intact, although warn (it was obviously put to work!) It has a little rust but I will clean it carefully. It has the same blacksmith tool marks as the one that Odate shows. From the little bit of research I’ve done this saw seems to be over 100 years old!

-- Happy woodworking!

16 comments so far

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 4813 days

#1 posted 05-18-2009 05:57 PM

Asesome find. I only find junk at flea markets.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4692 days

#2 posted 05-18-2009 05:57 PM

I can’t imagine using a saw that big ,cool photos


View clieb91's profile


4262 posts in 5050 days

#3 posted 05-18-2009 06:29 PM

Great find! Hope you can post some pics or video of it in use.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Tony's profile


995 posts in 5145 days

#4 posted 05-18-2009 07:31 PM

I would imagine a very rare/scarce piece to find anywhere, let alone in a flea market. All you hard work has paid dividends yet again. Well done Blake

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4499 days

#5 posted 05-18-2009 07:44 PM

That’s a real treasure. Man, talk about a real work out, I could hardly imagine using that thing regularly.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4869 days

#6 posted 05-18-2009 09:07 PM

Man that saw is huge! Quite a work I bet!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4843 days

#7 posted 05-18-2009 09:12 PM

i hope you don’t think this is a dumb question, but would you ever consider trying it out? just to see what its like to try and usera tool like that?

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4883 days

#8 posted 05-18-2009 10:34 PM

that is an amazing find blake!!!!!!!!!! you are one lucky man

View 's profile

593 posts in 5087 days

#9 posted 05-19-2009 02:48 AM

You are a very lucky dog, Blake. I’ve been trying to find one here in Japan for a customer for months to no avail.

A1Jim, actually, this is not big at all, this is a ”maebiki”, the big ones are the ”maebiki ooga” and those are similar but about 5 ft. long, some even have two handles.

They were used for milling lumber when building the houses. I have one that is some hundred years old but it is smaller than Blake’s. It’s a mere 28” long and I believe my wife’s grandfather used it to build the house we live in, as well as my in-laws, at the turn of the XXth century.

Here she is, I’ll restore it as soon as I get out of here. Otherwise the soggy climate of Kyoto would do wonders to get it back to this sad state in a hurry.

By the way, isn’t it amazing how thick and heavy they are?

EDIT PS: I almost forgot: I always laugh at the “innovations” like the Lee Valley progressive pitch saw. Hmm… this has been the standard in japanese saws for centuries. Anyone realized the difference in TPI of Blake’s maebiki from shoulder to toe?

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1930 posts in 4787 days

#10 posted 05-19-2009 04:01 AM

That’s awesome, Blake!! Are you gonna clean it up, sharpen it, and put it to good use?

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View Bureaucrat's profile


18340 posts in 4767 days

#11 posted 05-19-2009 05:09 AM

Blake: Great find! I can’t even find a flea market let alone a useful tool.

Jojo: Thanks for pointing out the progressive tooth pattern, I missed it.

-- Gary D.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4788 days

#12 posted 05-19-2009 02:19 PM

Nice find Blake.

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4557 days

#13 posted 05-19-2009 02:21 PM

HOLY CRAP!!!! Thats one wonderfully wierd saw, what a great find. I imagine some serviceman bought that back as a souviner, maybe there,s more.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4803 days

#14 posted 05-20-2009 02:27 AM

Awesome Dovetail saw !! LOL …Such a great find , my friend : ) Yes , I noticed the progressive teeth as well . Modern technology , ay ? hahaha

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5212 days

#15 posted 11-23-2009 07:52 AM

I saw this on ebay and thought of you….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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