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Tools

Best Hand Saw

Whether you are ripping down your own planks from fallen trees or cutting dovetails to assemble a delicate jewelry box, grab the wrong saw and you’re in for a heap of trouble. Selecting the right saw is a matter of knowing the job at hand, anticipating the grain of the wood and understanding what attributes make a good saw. The lists below will help you choose the proper saw for the job, but one major aspect requires a little explanation.

Will you be making cuts with the grain or across? A rip saw is used for cuts made with the grain and named for the process of ripping down boards. Crosscut saws are the opposite and their teeth are optimized for cutting against the grain. The difference is all in the teeth and using the right one will make the job easier, more accurate and help to make a smoother cut.

Beyond this, most saws are named for their intended task and are easy to distinguish. A pruning saw is meant for pruning while the wallboard saw isn’t useful for much else beyond drywall/wallboard work, so pay attention to the nomenclature. All saws benefit from hardened steel teeth. This keeps them sharper for longer and extends the time between sharpenings or replacements. The style of handle varies as much as the blade, but slight variations can really change how comfortable it is to hold. A handle that sits nicely in the hand will greatly improve your working experience.

Find the properly named saw, make sure the materials are of high quality, consider the comfort of the handle and check the teeth to make sure you’ll get an easy cut. After that’s said and done, it’s time to get to work.

FlinnGarlick Pax Range 24" Rip Handsaw

FlinnGarlick Pax Range 24" Rip Handsaw

It's actually a bit difficult to say which of these is the best; but I've decided to give me vote to the Pax Rip Saw. While there are a couple of saws on this list that might technically qualify as being better, I believe that you get more value for your money out of the Pax. It's also a very attractive saw, which should impress all your woodworking buddies.

This is a 24 inch long saw, which is not quite as long as some other rip saws, but it's not short enough to refer to it as a panel saw. The blade is made of high carbon steel and is "breasted”, meaning that the cutting edge with the teeth is slightly concave so less surface area is in contact with the workpiece at one time, resulting in less force required to overcome the friction. The 4-1/2 teeth per inch are hand sharpened and taper ground. They are also precisely set to avoid binding of the saw in the wood.

Lie-Nielsen Rip Cut Panel Saw

Lie-Nielsen Rip Cut Panel Saw

This saw is 20 inches long, making it a "panel saw." That doesn't mean that it won't do what other saws will, but the shorter overall length is handy for quick jobs or even for carrying along in at tool chest. It's a perfect example of that old saying "you get what you pay for”. Lie-Nielsen was started to compete with the old-world toolmakers from England and they are focused on quality more than anything else, taking American hand tool manufacturing to a new level.

The blade on this saw is made of A2 tool steel, which lasts longer than the typical O1 tool steel often used for cutting tools. In addition, A2 sharpens well with a water stone, rather than having to use an oil stone. It has been cryogenically treated and double tempered to make it as strong and durable as possible. There are 7 teeth per inch, which is more than most other rip saws but that helps to keep a smoother cut. The blade tapers from 0.032" to 0.026" and the teeth are set at 0.005". That alone tells you a lot about the painstaking effort that goes into making these tools.

Wenzloff and Sons Rip Filed Panel Saw

Wenzloff and Sons Rip Filed Panel Saw

Wenzeloff & Sons is a custom saw manufacturer and as such, you can expect to pay a pretty penny for their tools. But that doesn't stop them from moving these units as it's not uncommon for their saws to be out of stock. This model is an old one, somewhat different than many modern saws. The most obvious difference is that the nose of the saw is rounded, unlike the straight end of most modern rip and crosscut saws. I personally like this rare design modification because it helps prevent damage to other stock while you’re working. I've scratched more than one piece I was working on with the nose of my saw. The handles of these saws are normally made of Beech, but they are quick to substitute other hardwoods if they can't find a good stock of Beech to use. At the time of this writing, they were using black walnut  which makes a very attractive handle. The saw blade is 26 inches long, taper ground, and has 5 teeth per inch.

Lynx 26" Handsaw Rip, 4-1/2 TPI

For those who are looking for a more affordable saw, Lynx makes some very high quality saws at a more reasonable price. These are actually a bit of a bargain, compared to the other saws we've looked at, yet still maintain the quality one would expect from a well-made saw. The blade of this saw is 26" long, making it one of two on our list that are full-length rip saws. That extra couple of inches can be handy, when you're trying to get a lot of cutting done fast. This saw has 4-1/2 teeth per inch for maximum aggressive cutting. The teeth on this blade are set in a straight line. The blade is made of alloy spring steel and is taper ground while a skew back helps keep the saw straight while cutting. This saw comes shipped in a wallet to protect the blade.

Gyokucho 770-3600 Razor Ryoba Saw with Blade

I've included this saw for something a little different. Although a pull saw, rather than a push saw (like the others), it is a rip saw. Made in the traditional Japanese style, it is actually much easier to control this saw to your scribed cut line than it is with a push saw. These saws also work extremely well in softwoods which you can't say for the traditional rip saws. These saws were designed specifically for precision cutting. If you've ever seen a Japanese craftsman make a traditional framework for a wall section or sliding door, you'll be amazed at the level of precision in their cutting. The blade is double-sided, providing one side for ripping and the other for fine crosscutting. I'm sorry, but I can't find the exact number of teeth that the blade has, but it looks to me like it's about 7 or 8 on the rip side of the blade and as many as 20 on the crosscut side. While it takes a little getting used to using these saws, once you do, you're sure to love it.

Bahco SE-15-36, 36" Bowsaw

I think that Bahco makes the best bow saws out there. They make the widest lineup, with 20 different models of bow saws and this one in particular sports a 36-inch long blade, making it one of the biggest on the market. I like that because it cuts operator fatigue by allowing a longer cutting stroke. This saw has a relatively straight back, allowing it to be used for cutting fairly large branches. The bow is powder coated, giving it a tougher finish than just paint and it’s available with two different blades, the 23 raker tooth blade (shown) or a 51 tooth version for cutting dry wood. Blade tension is set by an over the center clamp and a knuckle guard is provided on the handle.

Truper AJT-30, 30" Bow Saw

Truper is manufactured by our neighbors to the south in Mexico. That may not seem important, but having spent a considerable amount of time in Mexico, I've come to realize that the Mexicans rely heavily on hand tools. Truper is considered the best of the best of their bow saws and other garden saws. This particular model has a 30-inch blade, making it just a bit shorter than the Bahco. That's actually a nice compromise between a "normal" 24-inch blade and the long 30-inch one. The bow is nice and deep, allowing you to cut good sized branches and logs with a cam lever which locks the blade in place to tensioning it. There’s also a knuckle guard to protect your knuckles while cutting.

Black & Decker 24-Inch Bow Saw with Knuckle Guard BD1703

While the 36-inch blade of the Bahco can be nice to have, few bow saws actually come with that long a blade. This Black and Decker model comes with a 24-inch blade which is much more common. Like the Bahco, it has a straight back which allows it to cut larger diameter branches and logs. However, the blade tensioner on this saw is s simpler wingnut. So, it's up to the operator to make sure it is tight enough. A padded handle makes the saw more comfortable to use and also includes a knuckle guard.

Gardena 8747 Comfort 21-Inch Pruning Bow Saw With Fine Cut Teeth

Even though this saw has a tapered bow, I felt that its quality deserved mentioning. Besides, there are people who prefer or even need a tapered nose saw. Gardena puts a lot of work into their saw and this "530 model" is 530 mm long, or just shy of 21-inches. Between the shorter length and the tapered nose, it's ideal for getting into tight places that larger bow saws can't reach. The steel bow is rust-proofed and molded to a twist-proof shape. Blade tension is set with a screw tensioner, which they claim gives the operator the ability to adjust the tension for the job; I'm not sure how that makes a difference, but they obviously think it does. A comfort handle is provided, along with a knuckle guard while the bow is textured at the nose end, making it easier to use the saw two-handed. That's a nice touch on their part.

Gilmour 21-Inch Bow Saw 521

If you're looking for a bow saw at a bargain price, take a look at the Gilmour. This saw doesn't have any fancy extras, but it is well made and designed to last. The bow is tapered like the Gardena, making it ideal for use in those tight places. However, they have put a toggle blade tightener on it, making it faster to change blades and always ensuring  you have proper blade tension. The blade is edge hardened and has a non-stick coating to keep the saw from binding up in the branches you are cutting.

Shark 10-2206 Rockeater Drywall Saw

Shark is the same company that produces the SharkSaw pull saw, having introduced pull saws to the American market. While one would expect a drywall saw to be a simple item, this saw is anything but. The blade is made of high carbon steel so that it can keep an edge for a long time while the teeth are ground with two cutting edges so that they will cut on both the push and pull strokes. But what I really like about this saw is the handle. Reminiscent of a sword handle or one for a fighting knife, this one ensures a good grip. Coupled with the super sharp point, it makes puncturing through drywall extremely easy. The point is also sharp enough to be used for scoring the sheet rock for breaking. With its very reasonable price, this saw takes the prize.

DEWALT DWHT20123 Folding Jab Saw

I don't personally like the idea of a folding saw, but there's no denying this saw from DeWalt is a very well designed tool. The folding blade makes it more compact, so that it's easy to carry around with you and use as needed. A separate rasp blade is used to clean up the edges of your cuts, without having to grab another tool. The saws teeth are triple ground which makes it possible to cut in both directions. A solid locking mechanism ensures that both blades stay in place when using them which then fold into the handle for storage, locking closed as well.

Sheffield 58231 6-Inch Double Edge Wallboard Saw

Sheffield provides a double edged wallboard saw, with teeth on both sides of the blade. That makes it easier to cut out openings faster, as you can change directions without having to remove and reinsert the saw. The saw blade is made out of S2 steel, which is a high-impact steel for long life and strength. It is also removable for replacement. A chambered drive end makes attachment of the blade to the handle quick and easy. Lastly, a rubberized grip makes the saw easy to hold onto.

Stanley 20-556 6-Inch FatMax Jab Saw

It seems like Stanley started out the design of this tool with the handle. This is part of their "fat max" tool series, providing large, comfortable, easy to grip handles, which make the tools easier to use, and help prevent the tool from slipping in your hand. The blade is hardened and the teeth induction tempered to retain their sharpness. Like some of the others, the teeth on this one are ground to cut in both directions, allowing for faster, cleaner cuts. The tip is sharpened to allow easy puncture of drywall.

Milwaukee 48-22-0305 6" Folding Jab Saw

Milwaukee took a different route with their jab saw. Rather than designing blades specifically for this saw, they've designed it so that it will work with any of their Sawzall Blades. As the inventor of the Sawzall, Milwaukee is the undisputed expert on that type of saw, so this particular saw can be seen as an extension of its bigger, more powerful cousin. The saw comes with three blades which feature tool-free interchanging. The blades also fold into the handle, making it safer to move the saw from job to job or even carry it around in your pocket. Using interchangeable blades also makes the saw more versatile, so the saw can be used for more than just cutting drywall.

Silky ZUBAT 330 Hand Saw

This is a new saw model from Silky, a Japanese manufacturer, adding a longer saw to their lineup. The blade of this saw is chrome-plated to resist rust, which leads me to believe that it's high carbon steel or tool steel; otherwise, it would not need the chrome plating to protect the blade. The teeth provide four cutting angles for maximum speed in cutting and we're looking at a 330 mm blade here which makes the saw 13-inches long. The blade is also full tang, ensuring it can't break away from the handle during use. Rubberized handles help you maintain your grip and the hardened sheath can either be hung from your belt or strapped to your thigh. The blade itself is replaceable, allowing you to reuse the grips and sheathe if you ever need to replace it.

Samurai Ichiban 330Mm Pruning Saw Scabbard

The Kanzawa Seico Company is obviously playing on the image of the samurai and their katana battle swords when naming their saw line; however, it seems to be a well-earned name. The blade on this saw is 330 mm long (13-inches) which curves nicely and equipped with teeth that are tapered ground to reduce the chance of binding. The blade pitch is at 4mm, giving 6-1.2 teeth per inch. The handle on this saw is probably the best thing about it, made of rubber fro cushioning and individual finger grips to increase your overall grip strength which comes in handy when fighting a difficult branch. This saw also comes with a hard belt sheath.

ARS Professional Pruning Saw with Sheath - SA-UV32PRO

ARS makes a variety of different pruning saws with this one being from their "pro" line which isn't that much more expensive than their consumer line. The saw blade is made from high carbon steel with a hard chrome plating with the saw teeth induction hardened for long life. Overall saw length is 480 mm or just shy of 16-inches. A new curvature grind is used on the blade to ensure maximum efficiency in cutting which is supposed to provide a cut so smooth, it's as if the wood had been planed after cutting. The curved blade fits into its sheath, which is designed to be reversible for either right or left-handed wear. The sheath also has a guide roller to ease return of the saw, without damaging the sheath as well as a latch to keep the saw from falling out. Leg straps can be used on the reversible sheath for attachment to the thigh or calf if you don't want to use the belt loop.

Felco Model 611 Pruning Saw with Sheath, 13" Straight Blade

Felco's new 611 pruning saw is a redesign of the popular 610, giving it a longer blade with a new coating to reduce binding. This is a straight blade, whereas the others we looked at were curved. The teeth are turbo-cut and ground to opposite sides with no tooth offset which helps to leave a smooth cut. Their new tooth design increases the cut depth, as well as the saw's ability to push the chips out of the cut. The hard chrome coating prevents rust and prevents resins from attaching to the sides of the blade. The sheath for this saw is conveniently designed for belt mounting.

Corona RS 7500 Razor Tooth Saw with D Handle, 18" Curved Blade

While Corona has standard pruning saws as well, I chose this model for our list because I thought it offered some things that the others don't. First of all, this is an 18-inch saw, which makes it considerably longer than the others on our list. That means it is possible to cut thicker branches than the other saws can. While it is longer, this saw still has the curved blade which increases contact with the branch and boosts overall cutting speed. The teeth are three sided and impulse hardened for long life and this saw also has a D handle, rather than an angled stick handle. I like that, as this design is more comfortable to work with. The front part of the D also provides protection for the hand from running it into the branch.

Bahco by Snap-On 325 Premium Ergonomic Hacksaw

Bahco is owned by Snap-On tools, the manufacturer of the world's finest mechanics tools. I mention that, because it gives you an idea of the kind of quality you should expect from this tool. This tool has been designed to be ergonomic, from the shape of the soft grip-handles, to the placement of the front handle. The frame is solid aluminum, making it lightweight while remaining incredibly strong. By comparison, most of the other saws on this page have hollow frames. The quick-change blade tensioning mechanism is spring loaded, making blade chances that much easier. It also has an adjustment screw for ensuring that the blade stays tight. There is no on-board blade storage, but that's not much of a sacrifice since it allows for the solid aluminum frame.

Lenox Tools HT50 High Tension Hacksaw

Lenox is known more than anything for their high quality saw blades. Of course, if you're going to make some of the best hacksaw blades around, it only makes sense to build a hacksaw frame that lives up to their reputation. This saw provides 50,000 PSI of tension to the saw blade; I don't know what the others do, but that's pretty impressive. For comparison, Lenox also has a lower grade saw that only provides 20,000 PSI of tension. The top frame member is hollow, allowing it to be used as storage for up to five blades. A tensioner lever at the top of the handle makes blade changes easy, while maintaining maximum tension. While the nosepiece can be used as a handle, it's not quite as comfortable as the Bahco; however, it’s been designed so any of Lenox's reciprocating saw blades can be mounted in it to use the saw as a jab saw.

DEWALT DWHT20547L 5-in-1 Hacksaw

DeWalt has taken a different approach to designing a hacksaw, going for the most possible versatility. While this saw works wonderful as a normal hacksaw, the blade can be forward mounted for extra reach or the front handle can be removed and the blade mounted in it for use as a jab saw. The frame itself is made with an I-beam top rail, giving incredible strength. That allows this saw to provide up to 330 pounds of blade tension. I'm not sure how that compares to the Lenox saw, because I'm not sure how Lenox is calculating their tension. However, it’s sufficient to say that both saws provide excellent tension. This saw frame is also tapered at the nose, giving it a "low profile" design, which allows it to get into tighter places. DeWalt has gone for a solid frame design, so unfortunately there’s no on-board blade storage.

MK Morse HHBF02 Master McCoy Hack Saw Frame with Blade

M K Morse is another blade manufacturer, like Lenox. Their hacksaw frame is well built and tough, offering 30,000 PSI of blade tension. That's not quite as much as the Lenox, but still pretty impressive. Like the Lenox, this one has a hollow tube upper frame member, allowing blade storage. The thumbscrew that keeps the blades from falling out can also be used as a clamp to hold a blade in place for jab sawing. The rear handle is ergonomically designed for comfort but the front handle isn't quite as comfortable as some of the others. The quick action tensioner is located at the base of the handle, making it convenient for blade changes.

Ridgid 12" Prohack Hack Saw - 20238

Ridgid has developed a unique design for their hacksaw, simplifying the traditional design into something more akin to a bow saw. The main part of the frame is a one-piece casting, with the top, front, and hand guard all cast as one piece. The handle is a second piece, allowing for blade tensioning. That is accomplished by a wing screw on the bottom of the handle. There’s no quick change clamp on this tool, but that shouldn't be much of a problem. Both the front and rear handle are rubber coated for comfort. I'm actually rather intrigued by this design and think that it would hold up well over a prolonged period of time.

Lie-Nielsen Crosscut Panel Saw

Lie-Nielsen Crosscut Panel Saw

While expensive, this saw is probably one of the finest made tools on the market. Lie-Nelson is an American company, but was founded to compete with England's old world craftsmanship. This saw is a perfect example of their work, in every detail. As a "panel saw" it's shorter than some at only 20", but still gives a good stroke for getting the job done. For American made saws this is probably the highest quality you can find.

Lie-Nielsen uses A2 tool steel for the blade, rather than the typical O1 tool steel that is often used for cutting tools. A2 sharpens well with a water stone, rather than having to use an oil stone. It has been cryogenically treated and double tempered to make it as strong and durable as possible. There are 12 teeth per inch, although an 8 tooth version is also available. The blade's thickness tapers from 0.032" to 0.026" and the teeth are set at 0.005". That alone tells you a lot about the painstaking effort that goes into making these tools.

Pax 410008 26" Handsaw with Two Tone Beech Handle

Pax is one of those British companies who still make things the same way that they have for centuries. While not the finest saw you can buy from “Merry Old England”, it’s an excellent example of the tool-maker's art. It probably provides more value per dollar than any other tool on this list.

I've selected an 8 TPI version of this saw, although it is also available in 10 and 12 TPI. The lower number of teeth make this somewhat of a combination blade, which can be used for both ripping and crosscut work. The saw is also available in 20", 22" and 24" lengths, if you prefer a panel saw while the blade is made of high carbon steel for long life and is "breasted”; that means the line of teeth is slightly convex, so there are less teeth in contact with the wood at any one moment. Less teeth means less friction, which in turn helps make the saw easier to use. The blade is taper ground, with a very minimal tooth set, helping to reduce waste by creating a small kerf.

Lynx 410034 26" Handsaw with Beech Handle

Lynx is another English company, but one that does a little more business on this side of the pond. Their saw blade is made of high quality Sheffield spring steel and is taper ground. For those in the know, Sheffield steel is considered some of the finest tool steel there is. The tooth line is straight, not breasted like the Pax. This particular saw has 8 TPI, but also comes in a 10 TPI version. The saw also comes in 20", 22" and 24" for those who prefer a panel saw. The handle is stained Beech and is attached with four brass screws. Coupled with the company's engraved logo, it makes for a very attractive yet highly functional saw.

Great Neck N2610 26-Inch Crosscut Hand Saw

For those of us who can't afford the prices of English tools or the American copies thereof, there are still some good options to choose from. This 26" hand saw from Great Neck is made of chrome nickel steel. While not as exotic as some of the steels used for the English saws, it is rust-proof and will hold a descent edge. It is made with ten teeth per inch, picking the midpoint between speed and smoothness of cut. That makes this saw a good compromise for many projects. The teeth are precision sharpened and set for easy cutting. The hardwood handle is decoratively carved and finished to make it weather resistant.

Stanley 20-045 15-Inch Fat Max Hand Saw

This saw by Stanley, breaks all tradition for hand saws. With a 15" blade, it's even shorter than the typical panel saw. It has nine teeth per inch, making it even more of a compromise saw than the Great Neck. These teeth provide three cutting edges per tooth, meaning the saw will cut on both the push and pull stroke, something else that’s non-traditional for hand saws. The teeth have been induction hardened for longer life; while the manufacturer says five times longer, they don't say what they’re comparing that to. Even the handle on this saw breaks with tradition, being made of plastic with a rubber over molded grip for comfort. The front edge of the handle, together with the back of the blade, can be used as a square to mark 45 and 90 degree cut lines.

Shark Corp 10-2730 Takumi Ryoba 10-1/4-Inch General Carpentry Double Blade Saw

SharkCorp, the makers of the Shark Saw is the company that first brought the pull saw to the United States and made it mainstream. This is a conventional Ryoba, the type of double-bladed saw I mentioned in the introduction. The long handle makes it possible to use this saw two-handed for greater pull strength and lowered fatigue on long cuts. This saw is an excellent choice for cutting large tenions or thicker wood. The teeth on one side are cut and ground for ripping and the other side for crosscut. Teeth are ground on three sides, making for an extremely aggressive, yet smooth cut.

Shark Corp 10-2312 12" Carpentry Saw

SharkCorp, the makers of the Shark Saw is the company that first brought the pull saw to the United States and made it mainstream. This is a conventional Ryoba, the double-bladed saw I mentioned in the introduction. The long handle makes it possible to use this saw two-handed for greater pull strength and lowered fatigue on long cuts. This saw is an excellent choice for cutting large tenions or thicker wood. The teeth on one side are cut and ground for ripping and the other side for crosscut. Teeth are ground on three sides, making for an extremely aggressive, yet smooth cut.

Tajima JPR-SET Rapid Pull Saw Set with 15 TPI and 18 TPI Blades

This saw by Tajima modifies the traditional form to provide the two blades as separate pieces, rather than two sides of a single wide blade. That allows for narrower blades which can come in handy in tight places. The kit includes an elastomeric coated handle, the two blades, and a case for storage and protection of the tool. One razor sharp blade has 16 teeth per inch and the other 19, for ripping and crosscutting respectively. Like the other saws we've looked at, the teeth provide a triple cutting edge which ensures a good cut at any angle. The blades are flexible so they can be used for flush-cuts as well. A patented quick-connect blade retainer allows for quick blade changes.

Gyokucho 770-3500 Razor Dozuki Saw with Blade

This is one of the modernized styles of the traditional Japanese saw. It has a blade stiffner on the back side of the blade, eliminating the natural flexibility of the blade. I personally don't see this as much of an advantage, but for people who are used to push saws, this makes it easier to work with. However, it eliminates the ability to use it as a flush cutting saw, as well as for cutting through thick wood. Nevertheless, it is ideal for a lot of cutting tasks, especially when remodeling. The blade has 17 teeth per inch and is ideal for cutting dovetails and joints. If you need a saw for cutting tenions, the stiffener makes this saw ideal.

Vaughan 9.75" Double-Edge Pull Saw

This traditional styled saw from Vaughn has the thinnest blade at only .020", a third thinner than the .030" of the other saws. This gives it a total kerf of only .02226" probably the thinnest kerf of any type of saw you can find. One side of the blade has 18 teeth per inch and the other is gradated which is a bit different. The blade and handle of this saw can be separated, allowing you to swap out blades and handles with other Vaughn saws. Made of spring steel, the blade is plated for rust resistance while the tri-edged teeth are impulse hardened to retain their shape and sharpness.

Knew Concepts 5" Woodworker Fret Saw

If the purpose of the coping saw's frame is to provide tension to the blade, this saw seems to epitomize that purpose. Between the truss structure that is used for the frame and the tension lever for blade clamping, this saw will put much more tension on a blade than a lesser saw can. But believe it or not, it's not the most expensive coping saw that Knew Concepts produces. They have titanium framed coping saws which sell for more than double the cost of this one. I decided to go with this one, rather than one of those, because I thought that they were a bit overdone.

Everything about this saw tells us that it's going to do the job right, from the frame to the blade clamps. Those blade clamps are swiveling, allowing the saw to cut 45 degrees to the right or left which can be handy, as it opens up your sight line to the blade, allowing greater accuracy. The tension lever, backed up by an adjustable tension nut, ensures the maximum possible tension on the blade. You'll definitely hear a different "ping" than you're used to. The saw comes with a 15 TPI skip-tooth blade.

Robert Larson 540-2000 Coping Saw

This German made saw follows a more traditional design than the one from Knew Concepts. Even so, the blade holder is unique. Rather than holding the blade in-line with the holders and handle, the blade is offset by about a quarter inch. This allows much more flexibility in positioning of the blade, which can be swiveled 360 degrees. I can see a few places where that could be extremely handy, especially when needing to cut parallel to the edge of the work. Blade tension is accomplished by turning the handle. This saw only accepts the types of blades with pins, not those which require a clamp.

Durotool 4 Inch German Style Sawframe

Durotool 4 Inch German Style Sawframe

This is actually a jeweler's saw, rather than a coping saw. I wanted to get at least one jeweler's saw in here as that’s what I usually use for a coping saw. The blade of this saw is held in place by clamps, rather than depending on pins. So, if you want to use blades that have pins, you need to knock the pins out first (they’re pressed in). Tension is accomplished by clamping the blade in place and then loosening the back of the saw frame from the top rail to push on it and tighten it. This feature also makes it possible to use broken blades, as the saw is not limited to only one length. However, it's hard to get as much tension on the blade as it is with some other coping saws.

Olson Saw SF63507 Deep Fret Saw

There are times when a standard coping saw isn't enough. That's when it's nice to have a deep coping or fret saw, like this one. The frame of this saw gives you over 10 inches of clearance, allowing a much deeper cut than that which can be done with most coping saws. It will accept pinned, unpinned, and spiral saw blades, making it very versatile. Tensioning is accomplished through a screw handle. When you are done working, just fold the handle into the saw for more compact storage.

Stanley 15-104 Coping Saw

For those that don't really need a fancy scroll saw, Stanley produces a nice, simple coping saw; part of their FatMax series. This series provide fatter, cushioned handles than most other tools, making them much more comfortable to use and easier to hold onto. The saw frame has a 4 3/4" depth, but is also available in a 6 3/4" version for those who need more depth of cut. Blade tensioning is accomplished through a screw handle. The saw comes with a 16 TPI blade installed.

Lie-Nielsen Tapered 1-SAW-Tapered-DS-015 Tapered Dovetail Saw

Lie-Nielsen has done something new with their dovetail saws, to make them easier to use. Even though these saws are intended to be held horizontal, ensuring an even depth of cut, few people can hold them exactly even. It's not uncommon to finish cutting a series of dovetails, only to find out that you've overcut the far side slightly. This saw has a tapered blade, being 1/4" smaller in the front than it is in the back. That virtually eliminates this accidental overcut, helping you to make better joints in your fine woodworking projects. The blade is .015" thick with 15 TPI. Tooth offset is only .003" on each side, making for a very narrow kerf on your cuts. Blade length is 10", with an overall saw length of 15". Maximum depth of cut for this saw is 1-3/8".

The Gramercy Tools 9" Dovetail Saw

The Gramercy Tools 9" Dovetail Saw

Like the Lie-Nelsen, this saw's blade is tapered slightly, but in this case, it's even less of a taper. Instead of 1/4" of taper, they've put 0.1" of taper on this blade. It's also got a shallower depth of cut, maxing out at 1.2". Don't take that to mean that this is any less of a saw thought. The teeth on this blade are actually hand filed and set, something that is unheard of on any but the best of saws. Blade thickness is .018" with a set maxing out at .003". Since the saw is hand set, some teeth may not actually have that much of an offset to them and there are 19 TPI, making this saw cut a bit finer as well. Being hand-filed, the blade will cut extremely smooth and holds its sharpness for a long time. One key to the design of this saw was to make it lightweight, so as to avoid fatigue and help you make the best possible cuts.

Windsor Dovetail Saw

Windsor is a family owned shop in Colorado Springs, Colorado, building hand-crafted saws and other woodworking tools. If this saw is any indication of the rest of their line, they are very quality focused, wanting to provide their customers with "heirloom" tools. Windsor's dovetail saws don't come with a tapered blade, but a more traditional square blade. The blade of this saw is .020" thick Swedish spring steel, allowing 1 11/16" of cutting depth. They offer the saw in 8", 9", or 10" lengths. The brass spline is made of solid brass and slotted, rather than folded over the blade. For those that care, handles are offered in various different hardwood options.

Lynx 410047 8" Gents Saw with Beech Handle

If you're looking for high quality but are on a budget, this saw by Lynx is a great deal. Lynx may not be the most expensive saw manufacturer out there, but this saw beats their normal pricing. Called a "gents saw" this style was originally created for the gentleman woodworker, rather than the professional. This explains the turned, round handle, rather than the more robust handles on the other saws we've looked at. If you are only doing woodworking as a hobby, the greater ergonomics of the full handle are not really necessary. While the 8" size is the most common, this saw is also available in 4", 6" and 10" lengths.

Dozuki Dovetail Saw

The Japanese have long admired fine woodworking, with accurate joinery being an important part of their construction technique. Although designed for the same purpose, this saw has some unique design differences, which you won't see in the American or European made saws. Mostly, the handle is long and straight, allowing the saw to be used two-handed for large cuts. It is intended to be used with the workpiece horizontal and the saw vertical, rather than the opposite, which is found with the other saws.  Blade stiffener is steel, rather than the traditional brass. The blade is also somewhat pointed, rather than having a square point, allowing it to get into inside corners. This saw blade has a 25 TPI pitch.

Vaughan 569-64 BS150C Bear Hand Compass Saw

The Vaughn Bear line of saws are pull saws, following in the Japanese tradition rather than more conventional push saws. This makes it possible for the saw to be made out of thinner metal, reducing the blade kerf. So that makes this saw number one in my book. Shark, the makers of the famous SharkSaw used to have a keyhole saw that had an even smaller blade than this one, but they have stopped manufacturing it for some reason.

The saw's blade is 6-inches long and only .035 of an inch thick. The saw's blade is also thinner from teeth to back than any of the others, meaning it can cut tighter curves without binding. On top of that, being a pull blade makes it much easier to maintain an accurate cut, even in difficult to work with wood grains. The blade is made of spring steel and chrome plated to prevent rusting. There are 17 TPI, triple edged and are impulse hardened for long life. Finally, while the blade seats well into the handle, it is removable, so that the same handle can be used for other blades. All in all this is a great saw.

Nicholson Predator Hard Point Tooth Compass/Keyhole Saw, 12" Length, 8 Points Per Inch

The Nicholson saw has very aggressively ground teeth, making it a fast cutting saw. It only has 8 teeth per inch on its 12-inch blade, compared to the Vaughn, it will cut considerably faster; however, it probably won't offer as smooth a finish. The blade is pointed for making a starter hole, although this would be very hard to do in wood panels. The teeth are diamond ground to ensure their sharpness and then induction hardened with the manufacturer claiming that this saw blade will never need sharpening. This one has a pistol grip handle with a rubber coated grip for extra comfort.

Greenlee 301A Keyhole Saw

Unlike the other saws we're looking at, the handle of this saw is not removable. By integrating the blade and handle into one unit, Greenlee has made their saw stronger. The handle is ergonomically designed as well, making it more comfortable to work with, even before adding on the elastomeric coating. The 6-inch blade on this saw has clog-free teeth, which is accomplished by varying the size of the teeth. So, stating the number of teeth per inch on this saw is somewhat immaterial.  The teeth are also ground so that you can cut on both the pull and push strokes, reducing overall cutting time. They've even provided a pointed tip, for those times when you might use it for cutting drywall.

Stanley FatMax 17-205 12-Inch Compass Saw

Like the Nicholson, the teeth on this saw are triple-ground for excellent cutting performance. The 12-inch blade is removable and replaceable, with heavy-duty screws ensuring it stays attached to the handle. Having 12 TPI it won't cut as fast as the Nicholson, but should leave a smoother surface. The blade is bi-material, allowing for harder, heat-treated teeth, which will stay sharpened longer. Like the Nicholson, this one has a pistol grip handle, although it's more like what you would expect to find on a crosscut saw. As part of Stanley's FatMax series, the handle is not only thicker and padded, but the front part of the handle acts as a knuckle guard.

Stanley 15-090 3-Blade Nest-of-Saws

I've included this saw for those who are limited on space and budget. The nice thing about it is that it gives you three saws for the price of one. While that doesn't always work out all that well, as far as the keyhole saw function, this saw is just fine. The glass-filled nylon handle accepts any of the three blades, for general cutting, keyhole, or metal cutting. The keyhole blade is 10-inches long and has 9 TPI and the metal cutting blade is 6-inches long with 24 TPI. The big blade is a "general purpose" blade, which is designed for cutting on the pull stroke, like the Vaughn. That gives you excellent control over this 10-inch long 11 TPI blade. While small, that's ideal for working in tight places.

Rich the Tool Man

Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.

While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.

In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.

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