Japanese hand saws VS American saws

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Forum topic by Michigander posted 04-10-2015 04:37 PM 2588 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 3090 days

04-10-2015 04:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: japanese vs american hand saws

I am lucky to have a Lie Nielsen Dovetail saw which is one of the most beautiful and functional tools I have ever bought. I also have a quality Gyokucho Japanese dovetail saw. The LN has a .013” blade and the Gyokucho has a .010” thick blade. Both cut extremely well but I seem to gravitate to the Japanese saw because it cuts on the pull stroke instead of the push stroke. It is also easier to start a cut accurately with the Japanese saw. It seems that saws that cut on the push stroke would be easier to bend as the blade bends when pinched, whereas saws that cut on the pull stroke are in tension when and if they are in a bind and are less likely to bend. I love the look and feel of the American saws but I like the way the Japanese saw cuts on the pull stroke. Does it make sense to have a an American style saw (large ergonomic handle like the Lie Nielsen saw) but with the teeth reversed so it cuts on the pull stroke? It would seem that larger rip saws and crosscut saws would benefit most from the anti- binding saw blade that cuts on the pull stroke. Half the old hand saws I see have a buckle in the blade where binding during a cut caused the blade to bend. What are your thoughts?

12 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


18064 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 04-10-2015 05:16 PM

Seems feasible to me. Ive never worked with a pull stroke saw so Im guessing a bit here, but if using a larger handsaw, not a backsaw or dovetail saw, there is a bit of downward force that needs to be applied to cut and I would assume that it would be more difficult to put downward pressure on a saw that cuts on the pull stroke.

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

View dawsonbob's profile


3612 posts in 2426 days

#2 posted 04-10-2015 05:32 PM

I would have to agree with chrisstef about the larger saws, but for joinery japanese pull saws are — for me — far superior. I’ve been using them for a few years now, and there’s no going back.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View madts's profile


1934 posts in 3011 days

#3 posted 04-10-2015 06:41 PM

Just about all saw configurations are in the pull saw style. The old saws used to fell trees were pull-pull saws
Same for dimensioning lumber. Pull saw are my chosen saw tools.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3098 days

#4 posted 04-10-2015 08:51 PM

I know all about the bias toward HF but this saw is simply amazing. I always have at least two in my shop, they are disposable when they get slightly dull.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Woodknack's profile


13116 posts in 3051 days

#5 posted 04-10-2015 10:05 PM

I know all about the bias toward HF but this saw is simply amazing. I always have at least two in my shop, they are disposable when they get slightly dull.

- exelectrician

They are great saws and can easily be resharpened since they are plain ol’ carbon steel.

-- Rick M,

View shipwright's profile


8488 posts in 3469 days

#6 posted 04-11-2015 03:42 PM

+1 on the last two posts.
I love that cheap little saw.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View liljimy7's profile


45 posts in 1707 days

#7 posted 02-21-2020 09:00 PM

May have solved this problem
By putting a western handle on Japanese saw blade. It’s not a gimmick but works a lot better than using s slippery rattan wrapped pull pole handle.

-- JFS.brand (woodworker) Northville, MI [email protected]

View tvrgeek's profile


549 posts in 2320 days

#8 posted 02-21-2020 10:17 PM

Stanley has been making Japanese tooth European saws for decades. Downside is they are a lot harder to sharpen them. So, I gravitate to my Roby and Dozuki

View therealSteveN's profile


5107 posts in 1245 days

#9 posted 02-21-2020 10:39 PM

I know all about the bias toward HF but this saw is simply amazing. I always have at least two in my shop, they are disposable when they get slightly dull.

- exelectrician

Absolutely. Sometimes during sidewalk sales they are a buck a piece. I’ll buy a dozen or two then.

Not for woodworking. I call this my trunk saw. I keep it in the cars trunk. The car has a fold down back seat, and through the trunk I can get 7’ in easy. Sometimes I’m in the car, and to come back for the truck, doesn’t make sense. Anyhow this puppy will very quickly knock down a board or 5 if they are too good to pass up.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Phil32's profile


969 posts in 575 days

#10 posted 02-22-2020 08:58 PM

I think the logic of push cut saws may have been the idea of “putting your body into it,” that is, leaning the body into the force of the saw. This of course adds to the risk of bending the blade if it binds. The logic may apply to cutting 2×4’s quickly, but not to dovetails.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View AlanWS's profile


31 posts in 4229 days

#11 posted 02-23-2020 12:21 AM

As with many tools, you can screw up a push saw if you don’t use it correctly. A push saw needs a thicker plate than a pull saw (or a bow saw) because it needs to resist the force that might bend it. Your technique must also take the possibility into account.

A benefit of the push stroke is that you can see the cleaner show face as you cut, rather than where the blade emerges from the work. A benefit of the western tooth geometry is that it’s easier to sharpen yourself, and takes more readily available files (at least around here.)

At a show I once tried all of the dovetail saws carried by Lee Valley. Even though all my practice had been with western saws, I found one of the dozukis was the fastest and most accurate of the bunch, in my hands. I do use it occasionally, but just prefer using tools I can keep up myself.

If what you like about the Japanese blades is the thin kerf, you might also want to try a bow saw. There are a lot of options, and what you like best need not be another’s choice.

-- Alan in Wisconsin

View liljimy7's profile


45 posts in 1707 days

#12 posted 02-23-2020 03:24 PM

Sometimes I clamp a guide or ruler next to blade cut preventing crimping or miss alignment…. just a thought!

-- JFS.brand (woodworker) Northville, MI [email protected]

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