Japanese saws on hardwood?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 10-31-2011 08:09 PM 7557 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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668 posts in 2954 days

10-31-2011 08:09 PM

How well do Japanese (pull) saws work on western hardwoods? I’ve read claims that their teeth can break easily when used on such woods as white oak.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

13 replies so far

View Timberwerks's profile


360 posts in 3432 days

#1 posted 10-31-2011 08:24 PM

I’ve been using them for years on hardwood and have never had a problem. Tooth breakage can occur with poor technique though. I no longer use Western saws.


View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2964 days

#2 posted 10-31-2011 08:27 PM

Like timberwerks, I’m Japanese exclusively in use. If I have broken teeth, I haven’t noticed them. I’ve got a nice saw or two but I generally get the cheap Dozukis from Lowes for $20’ish. I’ll number them oldest to newest, using the newer ones for dovetails and the older ones for less exacting work. The oldest of them, I’ll use in the yard cutting branches. I have a hard time using Western saws now, the technique is totally gone.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4015 days

#3 posted 10-31-2011 08:33 PM

I’ve been using Japanese saws for about 15 years on white oak and other American hardwoods. I’ll second the poor technique will break the teeth. They’re almost impossible to sharpen, but once you’ve got the handle, the replacement blades are about half the cost of the saw. I, too, don’t dare use a push saw anymore.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3919 days

#4 posted 10-31-2011 08:49 PM

They work. Now there are a wide range of tooth configurations available
and saws marketed for use on hardwoods. Japanese architectural work
was usually done in softwoods but they have a tradition of casework and
other goods done in hardwoods like oak and from what I’ve read the
pull-saws are pretty much what they’ve been using for centuries.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3242 days

#5 posted 10-31-2011 09:01 PM

The thin plate and agressive teeth of the pull saws mean less work. That’s a given because less energy is making saw dust.

I personally don’t think you have as much control over direction of the saw. For me it’s the straight in-line handle orientation. The tactile feedback is lacking. I feel the same about what’s called a gents saw. Same in-line handle.

For me, the Jorgensen Pony version of the pull saw provides the best of both. Its thin saw plate with agressive teeth and slight set doesn’t take a lot of power to run. But, the pistol grip handle puts your hand in a more relaxed, natural position and the angle gives you some feedback. I find this saw easy to use all day and I get straighter more accurate cuts with it.

I will admit I haven’t tried using a Japanese saw with my work on the floor like they use it. You know, Japanese saw horses are only about 9” tall and they often hold the work with their foot. Maybe, in that position the handle would feel more natural.

View JamesG79's profile


23 posts in 2717 days

#6 posted 10-31-2011 09:55 PM

Just built a couple projects out of white oak and used my japanese saw with no problems.

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2964 days

#7 posted 10-31-2011 10:15 PM

Crank, I can’t cut straight with the Pony! I index my finger over the blade; helps me to “point” somehow. I think it’s a very personal thing; luckily there are ones cheap enough out there to try both.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3194 days

#8 posted 10-31-2011 11:27 PM

I have a couple of the Dozukis which I like very much. I learned one lesson about them,the hard(expensive) way.
I have a magnetic strip on a peg board that I was “hanging” my saws from…duh everytime I pulled them off I was either bending or pulling the teeth out.
Haven’t had any problems cutting oak,ash,walnut with them.

-- Life is good.

View DrDirt's profile


4529 posts in 4013 days

#9 posted 10-31-2011 11:43 PM

I have several a good one and some cheapies. Never broken a tooth.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Brit's profile


7634 posts in 3114 days

#10 posted 10-31-2011 11:49 PM

I favour western saws but I do use Japanese saws too, or more correctly, saws with Japanese tooth profiles which cut on the pull stroke. There are times when they come in useful, even though they are not my go to saws. They will cut most woods well if used correctly. I use the Shark brand with disposable blades.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View pmayer's profile


1032 posts in 3336 days

#11 posted 11-01-2011 06:05 AM

I have had three. Two are great, but I had one where several teeth came out in the first few weeks that I used it. I was experienced with pull saws before that happened, so I can’t accept that my technique was flawed that badly. I brought it back to Woodcraft, and they were stumped. They swapped it out for me and I have been using the replacement periodically for about 10 years, and have never lost a tooth fromit. So, must have been something wrong with the steel quality in the first one.

-- PaulMayer,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3345 days

#12 posted 11-01-2011 03:23 PM

I recently acquired a Japanese pull saw that I have used a little. They take some “getting used to”. However, I predict that after I spend some time with it, I will prefer it to a Western push saw. It sure is sharp and the kerf is thin. I have never used a saw that cut through hard wood so fast. I can cut through a 1/2” oak dowel in 2 strokes.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11246 posts in 3699 days

#13 posted 11-01-2011 04:08 PM

I use several types. Some made in Japan and sent to me by my son who is based there.
After watching the Japanese use their saws, my techniques are absolutely far less than amateurish! But I’ve never broken a tooth.
My SIL painted pictures on my old western style saws.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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