Growing Hand Tool Collection #1: Saws (Old and New)

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Blog entry by Tedstor posted 06-01-2011 10:02 AM 5528 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Growing Hand Tool Collection series Part 2: More misc tools »

Two years ago, my (wood) hand tool collection could easily fit into a milk crate. And while my current collection is still not large or impressive, I have accumulated quite a bit of stuff. I really like vintage tools and about 1/3 of my collection was manufactured before I was born (1976). I usually shy away from fixer uppers, though. I try to find mint condition, new-old-stock, or nicely restored items that I can put straight to work.

Most of my new tools are on the low end of the price sprectrum. Thats not entirely by design though. Many times I discovered the need for a new tool, I needed it quickly. Using an internet source wasn’t practical, and the nearest woodworking shop is 45 min away. That said, Sears, Lowes, and Home Depot have been my main source. While some of these tools have proved to be plenty adequete, I look forward to replacing others with someting a little bit nicer.

Anyway, I figured I’d start this series off with handsaws since I have come to enjoy using them so much.

Older Saws

OK, so none of these are actually all that old. The oldest being the 26” panel saw. Its a Craftsman Kromedge 10pt crosscut. Basically new condition, defect free, and had recently been professionally (or at least skillfully) sharpened before I bought it. Cuts very nicely. I’m not sure I could find a modern saw that cuts any better. I’d buy another right now if I could find one. Only complaint is that the handle is made from some kind of laminated ply product, rather than a nice hardwood. But the handle feels good in my hand and has survived 50+ years, so I guess its cool. Best info I have indicates it was made in the 50s or 60s.
I bought this saw, along with the others in the picture, for $5 each. I was buying a vintage grinder/pedestal I found on craigslist. Turned out that the seller was liquidating an amatuer woodworking shop of a deceased relative. Hundreds of NICE hand tools being sold off cheap. Unfortunately, I only had $40 on top of the cash I brought with me for the grinder. Lots of good loot slipped past me that day. LOL.

The 12” backsaw on the far left of the picture is a newer Disston (Danville, VA) crosscut 15 TPI. Its also in really nice shape, freshly sharpened. I haven’t used this saw very much since I bought it, but it works well enough. If I ever hand cut a bunch of M&T joints, I could see myself using it for the shoulders.

The other 12” backsaw is a Tyzack No 120. 14 TPI crosscut. Very similar to the Disston, except the Tyzack has a bit less set and is a more refined tool overall. Better feel and balance. Perhaps due to the brass spine?

And lastly, an 8” Tyzack 120 dovetail saw. Same product line as the 12”. I believe its 20tpi. In any case its also a nice tool. I’ve used it several times to make touchy-finnicky cuts for some marking tools I made a couple months ago. Leaves a very smooth surface, yet still manages to cut with chainsaw speed.
I don’t know much about Tyzack tools. My limited research indicates they are no longer making saws. Too bad, as the saws I have are fantastic. I’ve read that Tyzacks latest saws were being sold in Woodcraft stores in the early 1990s for around $100. Who knows? I know they were definitely worth the $5 I paid for them.

New Saws

None of the saws I have purchased new could be described as “premium”. All were aquired on-the-spot as they were needed. I think the most expensive was the Vaughn brand Ryoba “Bear Saw” I bought at Lowes for $20. I needed a saw to undercut some door jams for a flooring project. I was really blown away by its performance. It worked perfectly for the door jams, but has also worked well for the dozens of other tasks I’ve used it on since. Its the swiss army knife of saws in my opinion. One of those tools that should be in every garage. Cheap enough to sacrifice on a utility project, but is capable of making fine cuts too at a resepectable level. Only after two years of abuse does it need a new blade. of course a new blade is only $2-3 less than buying the whole saw. Go figure.

And speaking of cheap, well perfroming, Japanese saws; I should bring up the “rapid pull saw” by everyone’s favorite retailer – Harbor Freight. The saw in the picture is actually a replacement for the same saw I recently kinked. In all fairness, i beat the ever-living hell out of the tool and it just kept working. It was the saw that simply wouldn’t die LOL. I was cutting large limbs off of some local Cedar trees when the blade got kinked. Even then, it still cut fairly well. At $6.99, no big loss. I use this saw for all sorts of stuff. Cuts really fast and is easy to control. A good saw to keep in a tool box.

The 15” Sheffield toolbox saw was bought a long time ago when I needed to frame a wall for my third son’s room. Not much to report here. It cuts 2×4s just fine.

The remaining two saws are both Craftsman. The coping saw was bought for a baseboard/chair rail project where I needed to “cope” a few joints. The saw was $5 and a pack of replacement blades was $4. I don’t know a whole lot about coping saws, and this is the only one I’ve ever used. Seemed OK to me. I could of paid twice as much for another brand, but I’m not sure how it could have worked any better. A pretty simple tool, and the craftsman worked well.

The craftsman dovetail saw, on the other hand, failed to win my favor. First off, the website listed this saw as 11tpi, but the saw’s package says “15 tpi”, but the etching on the blade says “16tpi”. Really screams of quality when the manufacturer, marketers, and sellers can’t agree on a key specification. but for the record, the saw is actually 16tpi. Second, I had to pick through all the saws on the shelf to find one that didn’t have an obvious defect. Most had crooked blades or wildly inconsistent tooth heights. The one I bought was actually dead-straight and had visually decent teeth. The problem with this saw, in my opinion, is the excessive amount of set. This causes the craftsman to have an exaggerated kerf and leaves a rough edge in its wake. One of these days, I might try to reduce the set a bit. I’m betting it won’t be half-bad with a little work.

Anyway, thats it for now.

8 comments so far

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3390 days

#1 posted 06-01-2011 03:17 PM

I own the same dovetail saw (though when I counted my teeth I ended up at 15tpi) and I think of these saws more as saw kits than complete saws. The tooth configuration is all wrong, the tooth height is wildly inconsitent, and the set is incomprehensibly wide. However if you learn to sharpen this tool it works like a charm. I jointed the teeth, adjusted the rake angle to a little less than 90 and reset the teeth to a much finer setting. This takes about an hour the first time and sharping the saw thereafter takes about 15 minutes. I also ripped the varnish of my handle and replaced it with mineral oil (why manufactures think slick handles are good on anything you have to hold mystifies me)

It’s now a daily user in my shop.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16629 posts in 3354 days

#2 posted 06-01-2011 04:13 PM

I have a couple of Stanley gents dovetail saws that look the same as the one you and RG each have. With a straight blade, they each do real well. To reduce set, one light pass of a file against the each side of the blade improved my saw’s action considerably. Make that pass with the teeth of the saw extending over the edge of your benchtop.

It doesn’t take alot of hand saws to do good work, but it does take practice! And I’d recommend you look into building a sawbench if you don’t already have one. That was a huge awakening for me…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3616 days

#3 posted 06-01-2011 04:35 PM

I also have that Harbor Freight pull saw and I have the same opinion on it as you do. I was in Harbor Freight store and seen it was on sale and couldn’t pass up the price. I have had the saw for about a year and I use it pretty often. It still cuts like it did the day I got it. It may be my best “cheap” tool in the shop.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3368 days

#4 posted 06-01-2011 09:36 PM

RG- Thanks for the input. One of the reasons I bought the Craftsman was to use it as a sharpening/setting training aid. It sounds like it can be a good tool in the hands of a good owner.

Smitty- Funny you should mention a saw bench. I actually just finished building one yesterday. Not really the same type of saw bench most people have. I chose a design I saw in a 2005ish woodworking mag. Its actually more of a step stool, but built to demensions that would be useful to a carpenter. My shop/garage has a lot of high walls and shelving. The step stool/saw bench will be incredibly useful. I added some dog holes and other features that offered clamping/hold down options. Used 2×4 material for the platforms.
Like this (but a smidge different):

Dan- Its nice to have a $6.99 saw that works so well. It almost makes me abandon the idea of buying a more expensive saw…......almost.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3851 days

#5 posted 06-01-2011 11:27 PM

just drag the side of a 1000 grit stone along the teeth a coupple of times
on each side of the saw to decrease the sawset when the sawblade laying flat on a table


View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3368 days

#6 posted 06-01-2011 11:49 PM

RGs reply got motivated to fix/improve the saw. I literally just finished reading an old school pamphlet online titled “caring for you saw”, or something like that.
It gave the same remedy for relieving the set. I also read somewhere else that tapping the teeth with a hammer/anvil works too. However, I’m inclined to use the stone method since it seems less extreme, and less likely to weaken the teeth.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3851 days

#7 posted 06-02-2011 12:03 AM

I wuold hold me to the stone … bending metal back and forth will deffently comes to a point
where they wuold crack

do you follow the blog there is a link Brit gave in one of his comments
to a site only about handsaws ….there use , and taking care of them


View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3390 days

#8 posted 06-02-2011 02:17 AM

I use the hammer method. You won’t damage anything if you are not acting like Thor. Once you set a tooth one direction though, don’t bend it the other way ever, that’s when you get into trouble.

I love the saw bench you posted. I would like to see pics of yours.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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