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I have one 14 TPI Veritas hand saw and I've used it just about every time I cut dovetails or M&T. I have noticed I have a hard time getting the saw to stay on a mark especially when just starting out. At first a attributed that to my inexperience but Lately I've been wondering if a higher TPI would make that easier. Is there a significant difference between a 14 or 16 tpi and maybe a 20 tpi fine cut dovetail saw?... or should I just keep practicing with what I have?
 

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What's your technique for starting the saw? I have the Veritas 14 tpi dovetail saw and haven't noticed a problem with it. I use my thumb as a guide, and do a pull-stoke or two at an angle on the corner, then once it's started extend the kerf across the piece. I did notice that when I first bought the saw, it was more difficult to start than after I'd put some hours on it. I think the teeth were really sharp and grabbing more. I also use a crosscut-filed saw when cutting tenon shoulders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I usually use my chisel to cut out a groove on the waste side of the line and use that along with my thumb to guide the blade. I use the same saw and procedure on the shoulders.
 

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"I have one 14 TPI Veritas hand saw and I've used it just about every time I cut dovetails or M&T. I have noticed I have a hard time getting the saw to stay on a mark especially when just starting out."

What kind of a mark?
If it's a pencil line the saw may wander.

Some folks use a marking knife and then chisel along the line to keep the saw in line.

Paul Sellers has a video on saw set:
 

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I find that if I GENTLY hold the saw and almost float the saw as i let the saw start the cut I find it is much easier to cut to a line. I'm still in the practice stage in terms of dovetails. I'm taking a dovetail class next year and in the meantime I practice my pin cuts and my tail cuts. Im getting better cutting to the correct side of the mark. My saw is a 15 tpi.
 

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I would keep practicing.

I have used the Japanese saws, and I like it, but it does take a lot of strokes to make the cut with such fine teeth.

It could be that the set on a few of the teeth are off on your saw, such that it is pulling to one side.

Does it always pull one way, or is it random?
 

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I have the same saw and thought the same thing when I started using it. It was a "grabby" and hard to get started. But I think it was just my technique. Let the saw do the cutting and dont force it.
 

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I use my left thumb as a kind of fence or register, like Ed and giser. And point my right finger, not have it in the handle. Sometimes I put out my right middle finger, forward and down as a sort of guide on the right side of the blade as well, at the very beginning of the cut- that way you are forced to go gently.

On crumbly woods, or very hard slick woods that make the saw want to skid around, it makes all the difference to chisel a little start as the guys are describing, even if it's just at the corner and not all the way across.
 

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When you say, "I have a hard time getting the saw to stay on a mark," do you mean it jumps around when you're starting the cut, or it gradually wanders off the line once you get into the cut?
 

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I have the same saw and thought the same thing when I started using it. It was a "grabby" and hard to get started. But I think it was just my technique. Let the saw do the cutting and dont force it.

- mds2
I have the same saw and that's the best advise there is for this. I find that when I push to hard the saw goes all over the place. Easy does it and it'll sing.
 

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Lift the saw up like this and you will find it much easier to start ..



If you start the cut on the near edge so that one can follow the two adjoining marked lines, and then level the saw. This also effectively reduced the rake of the teeth and makes for an easy start.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

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I have that 14 TPI Veritas and I'm not a fan. I got a high tooth, maybe 20 or 25 TPI Japanese Dozuki and I much prefer it. Much thinner kerf and easier to start. They aren't too expensive, you should give them a shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the feedback guys. I have noticed that it gets easier when I loosen my grip.. but starting out is still difficult to get spot on. I will give it some thought.
 

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One thing I learned early with this saw is, in addition to the very light grip, if it doesn't start easily, pick it up and do a pull stroke again. Trying to force it to start cause it to jump off the line, seemingly always into the non-waste area.
 

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I haven't tried that saw, but have you checked your sawing posture? Make sure your elbow and shoulder are in line with the cut. A few backward pulls to get the kerf starts then hold the tip of the saw up until there is almost none of it's weight resting on the wood. At that point, I have found that a confident first stroke forward does the trick nicely for me. The key is to have it be confident and straight but not winding up so that you get out of posture. When you have very little weight of the saw in the cut at first it takes less effort to get started and the saw shouldn't jump around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have used guide blocks for cutting dovetails, but never my perpendicular cuts. I guess the question came from the many shops I've seen that seem to have a selection of joinery hand saws and was wondering if I was missing something with my single 14 tpi. I do appreciate the input per my sawing posture… I will pay closer attention to that in the future and see how that changes my result.

I have heard pretty regularly about starting the saw on the corner of the end grain edge and cutting both the upward facing surface and the surface facing me at the same time to ensure a perpendicular cut but this seems to lead to difficult sawing my my saw getting stuck. It seems to me like somehow this is creating a less than straight cut some how which binds the blade.
 

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I think that ypu are discovering the need for practice. I, too, am a handsaw noob but I have several thousand practice lines behind me now - most of them with the same that you have now. Starting at an edge means that there is less wood to be removed (easier) while the kerf forms. I have tried Derek's suggestion and it makes it very easy to make sure the saw is going where you want it to. The other way is to start at the back edge and lower the saw to the line a little bit with each stroke until the kerf is established where you want it.

Kevin Glen-Drake (of Titemark fame) sells a little gadget that I have found very useful. It's called the Kerf Starter and is basically a single saw tooth. It's actually a scraper but acts just like a saw tooth. For your saw you'd want the 0.020" plate size. Used with your dovetail marker, it cuts a shallow kerf that makes it very easy to start since a kerf is already established exactly where you want it. I still use it for real work but practice without it. Someday I'll get there.

Keep a scrap board in your vise, with lines marked over the full length. Every time you go into the shop, cut a couple (or more) of them. You'll get there quickly and if you keep doing that then you will stay in "shape" and not need as much of a warm up when your next project comes up.
 
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