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Japanese Sawing: Bench Hook & Other Appliances?

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Forum topic by Lovegasoline posted 08-04-2020 10:27 PM 584 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lovegasoline

161 posts in 886 days


08-04-2020 10:27 PM

I’ve been using Japanese saws for a long time but I have no appliances for them.

Since they use the pull stroke, a bench hook designed for a Western pull saw isn’t optimal.
Are there Japanese bench hooks and other sawing appliances?
If you have experience with these devices, please post about them. I’d love to see a selection of useful accessories to extend the range, precision, and ease of use for Japanese saws.
I’m curious to see both traditional Japanese stuff and any modern variations adopted by Western users of Japanese saws.
Thanks a bunch!

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps


11 replies so far

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metolius

210 posts in 1578 days


#1 posted 08-04-2020 11:26 PM

With a bench hook, you can hook it on the back of the bench instead of the front ; so it pulls against the fence.

-- derek / oregon

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Axis39

336 posts in 445 days


#2 posted 08-04-2020 11:58 PM

I tend to use my leg vise to hold things… But, I am curious if anyone else has some ideas.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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MrWolfe

1055 posts in 971 days


#3 posted 08-05-2020 12:12 AM

Plus one on Derek’s suggestion.
I just put my bench hook on the back of the bench and it works with the pull cut.
Jon

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SMP

2447 posts in 753 days


#4 posted 08-05-2020 12:49 AM

I just made a quick one out of scraps like this:
https://www.woodmagazine.com/tool-reviews/hand-saws/make-a-bench-hook-for-japanese-handsaws-0

I also recently made some Kumiko blocks for Kumiko work, i’ll take a pic when I go out to the garage

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CaptainKlutz

3586 posts in 2342 days


#5 posted 08-05-2020 01:24 AM

Okada tool or Z-Saw sells helper jigs for their Japanese saws. Woodcraft sells one version. https://www.woodcraft.com/products/okada-z-saw-guide-with-saw-z-saw

I use my bench vises when sawing.
- #IAMAKLUTZ and cut into my bench if I attempt to use bench hook when sawing.

YMMV

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

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MPython

298 posts in 660 days


#6 posted 08-05-2020 12:56 PM

My bench hook’s fence is in the middle of the base board rather than at the far end. I can use it with either a push saw or a pull saw. It also serves as a quickie shooting board if I don’t feel like dragging out my regular shooting board. Pull saws don’t seem generate as much resistance on the business stroke as western saws, so I have never found it necessary to hook the cleat to the back of my bench. If I do occasionally have trouble with the bench hook moving around, I just clamp it in my vise.

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AGolden

74 posts in 182 days


#7 posted 08-25-2020 05:54 PM

I guess this is a two part answer. In my experience with mostly western woodworking equipment (workbench, vice, etc.) I have found that a bench hook hooked either around the back of my bench or in the split in the middle of my bench works really well as shown below.

and because they are pull saws I can also use the split in my workbench to either rip, crosscut, or cut joinery. The pulling of the saw pulls the work piece into the bench, it is almost self clamping but an additional clamp or holdfast will help. Andrew hunter uses a similar technique to cut joinery at a bench with a Japanese saw by sitting on the floor and cutting the joints by hanging the board off the end of the bench

Part two is about their original design intent. In Toshio Odate’s book “Japanese Woodworking Tools” he shows the fixturing in a Japanese workshop. Traditional workshops did not have a bench like western workshops do. Instead, a combination of low saw horses, planing beams, and planing boards are implemented to use their tools. The below link is a good video demonstrating some techniques. One thing I am learning is that in most Japanese woodworking you aren’t cranking on your tools super hard (the guy in the video is even holding the board in his hands while he cut the dovetails) so the fixturing is pretty simple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_MiykC0V2g

Toshio Odate’s book does also mention “kigata-jogi” which are angle blocks used to mark angles and as saw guides.

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Axis39

336 posts in 445 days


#8 posted 08-25-2020 11:38 PM

Came across this video from Woodsmith that shows how to build an adjustable pull saw miter box. Looks interesting and I think when I get back home, I might just build one.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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bondogaposis

5838 posts in 3199 days


#9 posted 08-26-2020 01:49 AM

I made a pull saw bench hook that fits in my wagon vise, very handy.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Lovegasoline's profile

Lovegasoline

161 posts in 886 days


#10 posted 08-28-2020 05:46 AM



Okada tool or Z-Saw sells helper jigs for their Japanese saws. Woodcraft sells one version. https://www.woodcraft.com/products/okada-z-saw-guide-with-saw-z-saw

I use my bench vises when sawing.
- #IAMAKLUTZ and cut into my bench if I attempt to use bench hook when sawing.

YMMV

- CaptainKlutz

Hmm. I’m not really sure how those contraptions are used. Like a DT jig for a handsaw??


-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps

View Lovegasoline's profile

Lovegasoline

161 posts in 886 days


#11 posted 08-28-2020 06:09 AM

Thanks for all the ideas, sorry for the delay in getting back to this … been pulled in every direction recently.

OK so I tried my bench hook … it worked but the ergonomics seem off. Too much stretch and too awkward body position … not impossible, workable, just not optimized. I guess that’s the point: to optimize the ergonomics, extend the range with various fixtures/appliances/body positions, increase efficiency and ease.

Axis39 I’m gonna check out your link. AGolden thanks for your input, I watched a bit of the video you posted I’ll need to return to it when I have more time. I’d looked at a blog called ‘giant Cypress’ not too long ago published by a Japanese woodworker, interesting emphasis in his outlook. I recall him standing on top of the workbench (IIRC) to make some cuts. This made sense to me as I’ve worked for decades without a bench by default (a work in progress … yes for decades!) which defaulted me on the floor or on my TS table … or whatever. The issue is that I’ve never really dove deep into the spirit of these Japanese saws … I use them like most of us, like a total Gaijin.

Being on the floor is just so elemental and gravity helps. So many Eastern cultures are more in tune with the ground (I’ve not traveled extensively but have meditated at length in Burma and Nepal) and they typically sit on the ground so it makes sense the tools evolve from that scene. But they are also very accustomed to sitting on the ground whereas most Westerners can plop themselves on the ground, but it’s awkward after a bit. It’s not home. Where are the chairs?

Hindsight of course but I graduated from the school where Odate taught, yet at the time I simply had no interest in fine woodworking, mostly utility grade stuff. I’d considered taking a course with him but other offerings spoke more to me and I was hot in the pursuit of painting.
I guess if one spends a few months or years in Japan one gets saturated in the use and spirit of the tools. I think there’s a lot of Western rigidity and cultural bias overlaid onto these saws so they are used accordingly. I’ve always found it fascinating to see ancient Japanese woodcuts with woodworkers stretched out on the floor holding the work with their feet.

So is that all we get: a damn bench hook (and poorly designed for a pull saw at that), lol?

I’ve been looking at books of appliances and jigs, all Western based. Would be good to see something like that for the Japanese tools not only in it’s traditional cultural usage, but also the hybridized Western bastardized version.

Again, my sense is I’m approaching these saws (which I’ve had for many many years) with a very limited and rigid concept of body positioning, based on Western woodworking. It’s probably better to be like a spider.

Keep posting and let’s learn something.

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps

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