Who makes the best dovetail saw? Lie Nielsen? Adria? Wenzloff & Sons? Gramercy?

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Forum topic by Mark D. posted 05-28-2008 07:11 PM 32141 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark D.

155 posts in 5104 days

05-28-2008 07:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question joining dovetail hand saw back saw western saw

Lie Nielsen? Adria? Wenzloff & Sons? Gramercy?

Who makes the better dovetail saw?

Price for all is fairly comparable and isn’t a deciding factor for me, I’m looking for quality of cut, comfort in the hand, width of the kerf, and overall quality and service of the tool and manufacturer. I’m looking for the kind of tool that can be passed down to future generations….

What are your experiences with these brands? (also note I’m looking for the western style saws, not Japanese saws.)

-- Looking for free wood working plans? Visit us at

14 replies so far

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 5036 days

#1 posted 05-28-2008 07:30 PM

I’m going to offer just an opinion: My dovetail saw was one Pete Taran and Patrick Leach used to make, friends of mine off the OldTools listserv. They decided to end their partnership and sold the patterns to (if I remember right) Lie-Nielsen, which became LN’s dovetail saw. I use mine (and the matching carcass saw) a LOT, and absolutely love them. Think a cut along a line, and before you realize what has happened, the saw has melted through the wood and a beautiful line has been cut. One of my joys…

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 5450 days

#2 posted 05-28-2008 08:44 PM

I’m not sure if that question can really be answered, they are all good saws. It come down to preference. I have several of the Lie Nielsen saws and I really like them. I’ve tried the Wenzloff & Sons dovetail saw made for Lee Valley and it’s a very nice saw, but the handle seems a little small for my big hands. I wish there was a way to try each of them, without buying them.

View Harold's profile


310 posts in 5183 days

#3 posted 05-28-2008 09:22 PM

mine are garlick and son’s, I believe it’s a lynx which has been a wonderful little saw, affordable and sharpens wonderfully, if I were looking at a new saw however I think I would go towards a saw made from a steel with alittle more rust resistance, although it may be tougher sharpen, I do have trouble controling the surface rust on both lynx saws… now as Mike metioned handles are a big deal, and most manufactured handles are just too small, so for me that’s the first I do, make a new handle, fit’s better, cut’s better and it looks better now.

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5158 days

#4 posted 05-28-2008 09:38 PM

I tend to agree with Mike. At this level I don’t think there is any one best saw. They are all good quality saws. It really comes down to personal preference. I opted to go with the Lie Nielsen saw simply because this is the brand with which I am familiar.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 5049 days

#5 posted 05-28-2008 09:41 PM

hey mark, what is wrong with the japanese dovetail saw? the kerf is thinner than any western saw plus you have a lot more control with the pull instead of pushing your saw. you should try one before you make any purchases.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5135 days

#6 posted 05-28-2008 10:19 PM

I use two inexpensive Japanese saws; dozuki and ryoba, a restored Disston tenon saw and both L-Ns; dovetail and carcase. I love using them all. Now, if I had to take only one with to a deserted island it would be the Japanese ryoba as I could do just about anything with it—rips, crosscuts and even dovetails with a saw guide.

I’ve used Adria’s, L-Ns, Garlicks, Paragons, Disstons and Bishops for dovetails and the reality is that the expensive saws are ready to go out of the box whereas an old tool will have to be tuned and sharpened properly before its potential can be realized.

If you’re a noob then I’d give a cheap dozuki a shot at impressing yourself as I believe pulling is easier to learn and the kerf is miniscule. The handmade saws will teach you how a Western saw should cut and feel at a price that guarantees performance and a butt load of snob appeal. Mine have rosewood handles and saw cozies….


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 5120 days

#7 posted 05-29-2008 04:27 AM

My vote (based on my limited experience) is for a Japanese saw – dozuki is what I hear is best for dovetails, though right now I only have a ryoba. Plus as J.C. says they are cheap!

-- Eric at

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 5073 days

#8 posted 05-29-2008 05:23 AM

I have quite a few very expensive japanese saws of various types and they are a breeze to use. Even the lower cost ones are good. I would recommend you at least give one a try.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 5176 days

#9 posted 05-29-2008 10:22 AM

I’m sold on my Dozuki saw, the transition took a little getting used to for me, but now I love it. I spent about 60.00 for it. The only thing is the blades are very thin and go not like to be pushed on very hard. I let a friend try mine and he bent the blade trying to push on it like a western saw.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View Mark D.'s profile

Mark D.

155 posts in 5104 days

#10 posted 05-29-2008 06:46 PM

I guess I needed to bold the part where I said ”(also note I’m looking for the western style saws, not Japanese saws.)” Thank you to all who gave their opinion on the subject, I think I will go with the Lie Nielsen. It seems to be the favorite of most of the people on the WW blogs/communities. :-) Besides, if I don’t like it they will let me return it. Can’t really argue with that….

-- Looking for free wood working plans? Visit us at

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5333 days

#11 posted 05-30-2008 07:59 AM

Wise choice.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 5049 days

#12 posted 05-30-2008 03:02 PM

have fun mark,just remember to keep an open mind.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5372 days

#13 posted 05-30-2008 03:54 PM

I use the Lie Nielsen, but my experience doesn’t go into great depth beyond that saw. I was told it was the one to buy, I bought it, learned to use it, came to love it. Nice choice!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View che's profile


123 posts in 5362 days

#14 posted 05-30-2008 06:19 PM

They are all top notch saws. I’m sure they feel different in the hand but nobody here can tell you what you will like. I tend to buy locally and the only woodworking store in my area is Woodcraft so you can guess which I have. Also, I didn’t know about the other manufacturers when I got my dovetail saw. I have ordered from Tools for working wood, which makes the Gramercy saw, and they are great to do business with and fully stand behind all the products they sell.

-- Che.

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