Backsaw handle shape

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Forum topic by Wintergreen78 posted 09-20-2019 04:40 PM 538 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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96 posts in 1200 days

09-20-2019 04:40 PM

I’m curious about about people’s experiences and preferences for the shapes of handles. I only got into woodworking over the last couple years, and i’ve only been using Japanese saws. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable using them and understand the importance of keeping a very light grip and not trying to force the saw.

I recently got a pair of carcass saws from Veritas, cross-cut and rip. They both have open handles. The way my hand sits on the handle, I naturally want to push the saw down into the work, which makes it hang up, especially when starting the cut. I find I really have to consciously try to drop my hand low so that I am pushing back and forth, rather than down, to the point that the heel of my palm is riding on the tongue at the bottom of the handle.

I’m going to keep working with them as they are to try and get used to them, but at some point I might adjust the shape of the handle to make it feel more comfortable to get my hand low and behind the saw, rather than over the top of it.

Any thoughts or advice?

5 replies so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile


5621 posts in 2955 days

#1 posted 09-20-2019 08:39 PM

wow, just wait till our handsaw experts get a hold of this post! LOL
Might want to look at the existing discussion threads titled: ‘Saws, using collecting, cleaning and buying’

Those folks are always talking about making custom handles.

I am idiot Klutz, just going to watch this one.


-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Wintergreen78's profile


96 posts in 1200 days

#2 posted 09-20-2019 11:34 PM

Thanks! I’ll check out that thread. I tried to search the forums, but that one didn’t pop up.

View therealSteveN's profile


10001 posts in 2035 days

#3 posted 09-21-2019 05:03 AM

I bought one of the LV DT saws with that molded handle some years ago. It takes more getting used to the shape than I think I’ve wanted to invest. I think you may be into a either love it, or not, kind of situation here. With any of the classic Western saw handles they use a set of 2 to 5 nutz to hold on the handle, and you can vary the handle, even their overall angle, and shape as long as you stay true to the bolt pattern. I think with these LV saws you are pretty much stuck with the angle they provide. Either that or I’m not giving it enough thought. I do know it is a universal learning tool. I’ve handed it to several absolute newbies, and everyone loves it at first grasp. Problem is only about 40% can saw with it worth a hoot.

The mounting bolt, is pretty much set, in it’s direction.

I’ve had another DT saw made especially for me. Like you, I do like the straight back handle of the Japanese style saws. The closest thing to that in a Western saw is a Gents saw. So I went that way, just lengthened it out.

This all came around after I had mine made. Seems I am the only one who likes the long Gent style? Mine wasn’t the LN variety. I had mine made by Ron Bontz We started with his Gent DT saw, and just stretched it out some. It’s not for everyone, but if you start liking the Japanese configuration, it allows either a western push stroke blade, or I imagine Ron could have made an Eastern pull stroke blade, or used a replaceable blade somehow.

Noobies to the shop like it’s feel, and better yet they seem to be able to saw with it right from the start. It’s currently AWOL, but I know the borrower. I told him recently I am going to have to start calling him the thief pretty soon.

I’ve also got a few traditional Western handled DT saws, and a box full of standard rips and crosscutters in the Disston style. If I’m making critical DT cuts I like that long Gent saw though.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Sylvain's profile


1676 posts in 3960 days

#4 posted 09-21-2019 09:29 AM

you are not alone see

you might also been interested in this

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

View surrywood's profile


43 posts in 1736 days

#5 posted 09-21-2019 10:11 AM

My personal experience is that I started with a Gent’s saw and it was Ok, but I went out a couple of years ago and bought the Veritas dovetail saw, mainly because I was such a beginner and I did not want to drop the coin on a Lie Nielsen or Cosman or one of those right off the bat. For me it was a game changer. The Gent’s saw never felt natural and I could not keep it lined up, and it was maybe too light and did not seem balanced to me. After using the Veritas for a couple of years now, I like the balance and I don’t find the tendency to try and push hard because of the handle. I am now looking for a higher end western dovetail saw along with a tenon and carcass. At $75-$80 it is hard to beat the Veritas to get started on in my opinion, but I took a dovetail class a year or two ago and I got to use both the Nielsen and the Cosman and they were (for me) miles ahead of the Veritas in feel and balance. Both were very easy to cut with.

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