Extremely Average #44: The Amazing Hand Saw

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Blog entry by Ecocandle posted 02-15-2010 05:47 AM 1905 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 43: Henry Wood Detective Agency: The Burnt Office Part 44 of Extremely Average series Part 45: I Suck »

The world is a dangerous place. The opposing ideas cause our species to fight and squabble about almost anything. Every so often, those differences seem to disappear, and we cheer for the triumph of the athlete.

Today I did some woodworking, but I also watched the winter Olympics in Vancouver. I cheered for the USA. I watched the medal count and felt overwhelming pride with each Bronze, Silver and Gold. But I also cheer at the joy. The pure happiness displayed at a life’s dream achieved. Much has been made of Canada never winning gold at any of the Olympics held on their own soil. The added pressure was evident when with only one skier to go, the Canada’s Jennifer Heil, leading women’s mogul event, had her dream, and that of an entire country, dashed. The tears streaking down her chin were heartbreaking. Today, Alexander Bilodeau put on his skis, trying to do what Jennifer Heil had almost done. Alexander Bilodeau won the gold medal in the men’s moguls’ event, and a nation cheered. I cheered too.

The dedication that each man and woman displays, the desire for greatness, is so apparent, is so beautiful, that for a couple of weeks we are inspired to try harder. With this in mind, I rethought how I would cut the 4×4s. I had planned on firing up the Bosch circular saw, as I was sure that they must be too big for the Japanese hand saw. As I looked at the wood, it’s mass, so much greater than the normal 1 inch boards I work with, I had a thought it must be too big. The Japanese don’t use power tools, so they must cut their 4×4’s by hand. It must be possible. But is it incredibly hard, will I screw up my router table legs? In the spirit of the great Olympians fighting it out in Vancouver, I decided to go for it.

I marked each leg, just as I would for the circular saw, and then clamped the first one in my vice. I started the cut and with a handful of careful strokes, got the blade heading through the 4×4 on a straight path. To my surprise, the saw easily made the cut. It went so quickly and was so straight that I had to stop and take a picture. The picture set up took longer than it took to cut both the legs. It should be noted that I can’t fit an eight foot 4×4 in my car, so I have the man at the lumber yard cut off a bit. I always make sure to know exactly how long I want my pieces before I go, so that the first two legs are done for me. Cutting the legs was fun. When I was finished, they were all the same length.

So I learned that my Japanese hand saws are even more capable than I had previously thought. The next step is to get them sanded up. The rest of the afternoon was spent sanding, watching the Olympics, and taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Not a bad day at all. I am still inspired.

-- Brian Meeks,

12 comments so far

View sras's profile


5036 posts in 3459 days

#1 posted 02-15-2010 06:18 AM

And it is a lot harder to slice your finger with a hand saw (not impossible, but a lot harder)!

Maybe napping should be an Olympic sport – I practiced today.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View patron's profile


13646 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 02-15-2010 06:43 AM

you are realy getting gooder at this ,

when iowa runs out of lumber ,

you can fell trees with this saw ,

if you can find one (LOL) !

got any neighbors with trees

maybe you can talk luna into baking some cookies ,
to bribe them with ?

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3815 days

#3 posted 02-15-2010 07:34 AM

The Ryoba is very thin kerf and as sharp as a hot damn. Many times it’s quicker to just pick up a hand tool than to set up a power tool. You have more control and less stress. BTW, your photography is really good.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4151 days

#4 posted 02-15-2010 02:13 PM

Brian, I have to agree with David in that often it takes more time to get out our power tools than it would take to do a job by hand. This is a nice saw that does cut well. I use mine for all the hand cuts that I do.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3404 days

#5 posted 02-15-2010 03:20 PM

I agree with all those who comment on the merits of a good hand saw. However, I will also caution you that hand saws can be dangerous also. The biggest scar on my body came from a handsaw that slipped.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4091 days

#6 posted 02-15-2010 03:56 PM

I’ve never drawn blood with any of my power tools, but just last week I got a nasty cut on the tip of my little finger with a hand plane – gotta keep those fingers off of the sole!

Scary sharp chisels can be dangerous too.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View stefang's profile


16665 posts in 3664 days

#7 posted 02-15-2010 04:25 PM

I’ve got to second (or third) what Rich and 8iowa said. I have cut myself more than once on my Japanese double edged saws. I have an excuse though! It was caused by carelessness and a little stupidity. It wouldn’t be difficult to cut off a finger with one of those if the wrong moves were made.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sras's profile


5036 posts in 3459 days

#8 posted 02-16-2010 12:03 AM

You know, I’ll wish I could re-write my comment. All who commented later were absolutely correct. The only time I have drawn blood on a tool was a hand tool. I was thinking more of the serious injury (losing digits or limbs) when I was thinking of power tool risk. Anyway, you have a nice saw Brian.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3395 days

#9 posted 02-16-2010 12:16 AM

I will be very careful with my hand tools. :-)

-- Brian Meeks,

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3655 days

#10 posted 02-16-2010 03:55 AM

I usually inaugurate any new hand tool I receive with a sacrificial blood letting. Usually within 5 minutes of using it. Guess it’s simply over enthusiasm…

You reminded me of the first time I ever cut a 4X4. It was daunting!

View Bill729's profile


241 posts in 3411 days

#11 posted 02-16-2010 04:54 AM

The saw obviously provided a very nice cut. Just curious, how many 4 by 4s can a saw like that be expected to cut before it feels like it needs to be resharpened (and is that a big deal)?


View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3395 days

#12 posted 02-16-2010 05:18 AM

I don’t know at all. It was the first saw I purchased. I have used it a lot and there doesn’t seem to be any drop off yet. I only spent $24.00 on it, so I will likely replace it, as opposed to sharpening it.

-- Brian Meeks,

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