I need a handsaw

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Forum topic by BentheViking posted 01-13-2014 02:41 PM 2078 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1782 posts in 3895 days

01-13-2014 02:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hand saw

I’m always going out to the shop and wanting to do a quick cut of something just using a handsaw and everything I have sucks. A stanley from a big box store and a jap saw from HF. I have a few older disstons and stanleys that need to be redone, but i don’t necessarily have the time/desire/know how to do those now, so I’d like to buy something that I can take out of a box brand new and touch to wood. I don’t want to go take out a loan to buy the thing, but I intend on using it as a long term saw so am ok with spending a bit on it. I am not looking for the kind of saw that I can resaw through a piece of 8/4 maple thats 8’ long. Mostly just to do a quick trim of something so that I don’t have to plug in a jig saw or oscillating multitool or something. I saw the veritas dovetail saw on LVs website that looks nice, but have no idea if thats the direction I want to go. My thought would be that a saw like that will be useful for joinery someday (as of now I don’t plan on completely diving in to hand tools, but would like to have a few when I need them)

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

43 replies so far

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1987 posts in 3301 days

#1 posted 01-13-2014 03:05 PM

Ben, I haven’t personally used that saw, but for most joinery options that would be a good one I think. I use a dozuki japanese handsaw that my brother gave me and I got used to it. So now I don’t even look at western style saws. But I find a lot of uses for my saw, cutting dovetails, tenon shoulders, small miter cuts etc. I think you are making a fine choice for an affordable, well made and workable saw

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3293 days

#2 posted 01-13-2014 03:06 PM

You probably want a panel saw rather than a dovetail saw. You can get a dovetail saw when you want to do joinery. If I were you and didn’t want to put the time into rehabbing anything I would put the money towards paying a local LJ to rehab it for me. Learning to rehab isn’t that hard though. There’s several methods. I can’t find DonW’s links blog right now, but here are a few:

Ok, here's Don's links.

Other options are to buy a ready to go panel saw from somewhere like Lie Nielsen or an LJ Wally makes very good ones. I can’t think of many other sources for new quality panel saws.

Edit: Agreed, everybody says that’s a good saw, and if it looks big enough to cut what you want it’ll work. It just sounded like you wanted to cut a little larger things.

View chrisstef's profile


18140 posts in 4338 days

#3 posted 01-13-2014 03:23 PM

If you just need something sharpened Ben I might be able to hook you up on that front. My rip filing is pretty good, my crosscut filing needs work though. Like Tim said if you want something to cut lumber to dimension a 20” panel saw with no spine would be the way to go. If you want something to cut joinery with and the occasional dimensioning a 14” carcass saw would do. The veritas set is great in my opinion. If you want something a bit smaller to do dovetails and smaller joinery a 10” saw would do.

Are you looking for a rip or a crosscut or just something that will do both in a pinch?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 3716 days

#4 posted 01-13-2014 05:32 PM

(Disclaimer: My recomendations are based on my own needs, which means I have more time than money).

If you are talking about mostly cross-cutting larger planks, and need something you can use right away…I wouldn’t discount on of the Stanley “Sharptooth” fine-finish saws. I would be interested in knowing why you don’t like the one you have, and precisely which saw it is. Lots of people on here like them.

If it is small to medium sized pieces…Then What I still often use is the black-handled stanley Back-saw that came with the little yellow plastic mitre box. In fact, I cut all the dovetails for my tool chest using that saw. I have sharpened it a few times since then and that definitely helps. I did recently get a Veritas Dovetail saw, but only use it for dovetails, or small tenons, since it is filed as a rip saw.

One last thing…if you find yourself often needing to cross-cut small pieces and want to do it as quicly as possible…make a BENCH HOOK (google it if you don’t know what it is). Saves a ton of time…no clamps needed.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3895 days

#5 posted 01-14-2014 01:46 AM

From the sounds of it a carcass saw might be a better bet for me (though not 100% sure what makes a carcass saw a carcass saw). If I have something big to cut or am doing a lot of cuts or need to make sure its a very accurate cut I think I will still be more likely to pull out my SCMS or circular saw or table saw. I think I’d be more likely to be crosscutting than ripping. Whats a tenon saw? How is that different than a carcass saw or dovetail saw? Besides Veritas where else should I be looking for hand saws? I checked out Woodcraft and LV which seemed to have the Veritas as the best/only option. Didn’t see much on Rockler. Keep in mind I need things to be somewhat affordable so no point in suggesting LN.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3293 days

#6 posted 01-14-2014 02:34 AM

Carcass saws, tenon saws, and dovetail saws all have a stiff spine along the back so a common general name for them is a backsaw. A tenon saw is the size of backsaw you’d usually use for hand sawing tenons and I think that name is British though I hear both British and American names and don’t keep track of which is which. Tenon saws usually have 4-5” of saw plate depth under the back/spine. Dovetail saws are a smaller backsaw for cutting dovetails, and as little as an inch of plate under the back. A carcass saw is in between and usually filed for crosscutting. It’s named for being the saw that cuts the pieces for the carcass of a furniture piece. So unless you’re cutting thing’s deeper than the 2-1/2” or so that the carcass saw has below the back that would be a good option.

For value for your money, I don’t think you can beat Lee Valley. The only knock on their saws is they don’t have the traditional look. I’d be surprised if you can touch the same quality at Woodcraft or Rockler.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4690 days

#7 posted 01-14-2014 02:55 AM

If all you want this saw for is for rough dimensioning lumber, just grab another Stanley at the BORG. Carcass saws, tenon saws and dovetail saws (at least as I understand it) are all for joinery. If all you want to do is get something that’s within 1/8” or so, I wouldn’t spend big money for accuracy and finish that you don’t care about. If you decide you want to start ripping boards to width or crosscutting them to length and finish them off with a hand plane, that’s when you should start looking at premium saws. Just my $.02

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View hobby1's profile


353 posts in 3629 days

#8 posted 01-14-2014 03:12 AM

When I rough cut lumber to managable sizes for finish work, I use my carpenters hand saw, I use it to cut walnut planks all the time, todays carpenter saws, are very sharp and can cut very acurately close to a scribed line if needed.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3895 days

#9 posted 01-14-2014 03:12 AM

My issue with the saws that I have and what I assume you’d get at BORG is that I feel like I am constantly fighting with saw and the wood. From what I’ve heard a good quality sharp saw is like magic and it will glide through wood (correct me if I’m wrong). Maybe my saws just need sharpening but it seems silly to sharpen a $10-$15 saw if thats even possible.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View ErikF's profile


652 posts in 3575 days

#10 posted 01-14-2014 03:22 AM

You would be surprised at how well a sharpened $10 garage sale saw will cut. I sold my veritas dovetail saw because I sharpened an old disston that cut just as well. As long as the teeth aren’t broken or rusted to nubs you should be able to get a nice cutting saw by letting the file follow the original tooth profile. Watch a youtube video and your golden.

-- Power to the people.

View Wally331's profile


350 posts in 3356 days

#11 posted 01-14-2014 03:28 AM

I second ErikF, vintage saws are plentiful, and it really is not that much work to get quite a nice working saw. It is a lot less of an undertaking then restoring a plane. All you need is a sheet or two of 220-600 grit paper and some elbow grease. If you pick a saw from an antique shop that already doesn’t have much rust your job is a lot easier. Check out the “saws buying, cleaning, collecting etc” thread, there is a goldmine of info. good luck with whatever you choose. Sharpening saws is really not as hard as everyone says btw ;)

View waho6o9's profile


9130 posts in 3908 days

#12 posted 01-14-2014 03:34 AM

Or, you can make your own like ErikF did:

Or, like Wally did:

View summerfi's profile


4385 posts in 3019 days

#13 posted 01-14-2014 03:57 AM

Ben, post some pics of your old saws so we can help you evaluate how much work would be involved in getting them back to working condition. You may already have just what you need, but don’t know it.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3895 days

#14 posted 01-14-2014 04:13 AM

I know it’s not a great photo it’s one I snagged from an old post from when t first got them. Those two are the disstons the Stanley is in similar condition maybe a little less rust but is a backsaw from and old miter box. That saw is easily 24-30” long

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3895 days

#15 posted 01-14-2014 04:20 AM

I should also reiterate I have little time for rehabbing old tools. Maybe an hour or two tops. Some day if love to get these other ones back in shape but don’t think the time is now. That’s why I was planning on shelling out some coin. Is there a decent panel saw at one of the box stores that would be serviceable and not cost an arm and a leg?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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