Fine, highly accurate dovetail saw

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Review by swirt posted 08-21-2010 05:59 AM 12800 views 10 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Fine, highly accurate dovetail saw Fine, highly accurate dovetail saw Fine, highly accurate dovetail saw Click the pictures to enlarge them

This saw was recommended as a top tool for under $10 by Fine Woodworking Magazine, and is highly regarded by Christopher Schwarz from Popular Woodworking. Yes that was not a typo, this saw really costs less than $10 and it is Made in the USA.
The blade is only 0.01” thick so it feels pretty flimsy, but it also cuts the thinest of kerfs. With this saw you can actually split the pencil line with room to spare. The teeth cut on the pull stroke, the blade is 6.5” long and this deluxe version comes with a better handle than the ordinary version. It is worth the extra buck and a half to get the better handle. Just makes it easier to use. The teeth are not sharpenable and the blade is not replaceable, but at the price, it really doesn’t matter.
As far as more traditional dovetail saws go, this saw is shorter and has more teeth per inch, it is also lighter. I wanted to compare a few in an actual test to see how the Zona Deluxe Razor saw measures up.
The third picture above is a closeup view of a 1” thick piece of 30 year old air dried Oak. I made a 1” cut into it using three different dovetail saws. It is pretty easy to spot the crisp thin kerf left by the Zona saw. The Crown saw and my No Name Backsaw left kerfs much wider and more ragged, although they did it with far fewer strokes. To make these cuts, to 51 strokes with the Zona, 30 strokes with the Crown, and 9 strokes with my self-sharpened No Name backsaw.
The Zona is no speed demon, but it does cut accurately and straight. Even though it requires more strokes, the strokes are easier, nearly effortless. Also the number of strokes becomes more reasonable in other tests I did with 3/4” pine and 1/2” maple. The finish on the wood left by the saw is incredibly smooth so it can save some time in cleaning them up later. I would probably not choose the Zona saw for making large dovetails in thick stock unless the fit and appearance was something that had to be perfect. I would definitely reach for it when making dovetails in fine furniture or box making.

If you need more details and want to see more photos of the Dovetail saw shootout, including the results for pine, maple and the appearance of the sidewalls of the cut, you can get it all here

I like the saw. I like that it is still made in America and I like that you can get it for less than the cost of a couple of cups of coffee.

I gave it 4 stars due only to its lack of speed. I have no real faults with the tool.

-- Galootish log blog,

View swirt's profile


5217 posts in 3741 days

8 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4346 days

#1 posted 08-21-2010 06:37 AM

Good review thanks for sharing


View JuniorJoiner's profile


497 posts in 4209 days

#2 posted 08-21-2010 07:16 AM

I swear by these Zona saws. I have 5 in my shop, and have worn out more. cheap enough to throw out or turn into scrapers when they dull

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View swirt's profile


5217 posts in 3741 days

#3 posted 08-21-2010 12:51 PM

scrapers? That’s an interesting idea, I would have thought them to be too thin for that. I’ll keep that in mind for when this one goes bad.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3884 days

#4 posted 08-21-2010 12:53 PM

thanks for the exelent rewiew of a cheap high end tool :-) Swirt

good to see that its still possipble to make great tools in that end of the pricescala


View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 4004 days

#5 posted 08-21-2010 04:26 PM

I’m currently using a cheapo Shark pull saw, which works really well, but it doesn’t have the reinforcement on the back edge (being also a flush-cut saw) so I’d like to get one that is a little more rigid for cutting dove tails. For $10, how can you go wrong on this? And if Christopher Schwarz swears by it, I’m sold :)

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View swirt's profile


5217 posts in 3741 days

#6 posted 08-21-2010 04:41 PM

I have a sharksaw as well. No good for dovetails, too wobbly. I actually bought the Zona flush cutting saw too, but I haven’t had a chance to use it yet. I’ll be comparing it to the sharksaw when I write it up.

-- Galootish log blog,

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3636 days

#7 posted 08-22-2010 01:37 PM

I don’t need another dovetail saw but I sure did book mark the site for future reference. Thanks

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3960 days

#8 posted 08-22-2010 02:43 PM

Good review, I enjoyed the artical as well. For 10 bucks I’ll get one!!!!

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

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