Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kerfs So Thin You Can Wedge Them With Paper?

Non bench related post here, I am puzzled by a recent trend  happening with hand saws, thin saw plates! I personally do not understand it as I tend to cut on the waste side of my layout lines while doing joinery. For my part this is my greatest gripe with Japanese pull saws, I can cut a curved line with one without batting an eye, which is not the desired result. I think. For my money a saw with an 1/8" kerf ?, that sounds better just think of  how little paring would be needed on dovetail floors! Hmmmm., sounds like a job for Mr. Bad Axe Mark Harrell to me!


William said...

A Japanese saw is only as good as it's condition, meaning sharpness and straightness. If it has been abused,missing teeth, or used to cut doorframes(read nails) it will not cut straight. On the other hand, if it is a quality saw and used as a dedicated "joinery saw" it will perform as well,or better, than any saw. In my humble opinion!?!

William said...

Tim,Have you ever tried a new thin rim sawblade on your tablesaw? It requires much less energy to push the material thru and,if it is sharp,it will give a much more precise cut if you are using it for joinery cuts. Also, the thin rim blades I buy have a greater cutting angle on the teeth(like a japanese hand saw) for a more sheering cut of the wood fibers. I ask you this because it's the same thing with a thinner plate dovetail saw...less friction...more accuracy. I've seen your dovetails and there is not much room for more accuracy, like none. I just don't think it's fair to discount a thinner plate saw.

Tim Williams said...

William, I completely agree with your points on the thin blades causing less friction,therefore being easier to use and more accurate,and sharp fixes anything and everything. My point is there are companies starting to push saw plates that are even thinner than any saw I own, which already have .025 plates, even thinner than Japanese saws. My Lie Nielson Is Plenty thin and can wander in the kerf from time to time, and now they have a .015 plate available. Why? My thicker saws track better, you just have to start exactly in the plane of your line. I am not knocking Japanese saws, in fact most of my students that do not have a history of using western saws excel at joinery with a pull saw, for me having used nothing but push style saws since I was six has made it a difficult to transition to a pull saw.

Chris Schwarz said...


A wandering saw is usually caused by having too much set -- no matter if the plate is thick or thin.

Thin plates (which are nothing new -- see Seaton's sawplates), require less steel, less effort and more skill. They are more fragile and prone to kinking, but after you have been sawing a long time, they are most welcome. (IMHO).


Marv Werner said...


I have a dovetail saw that I made with a .010 saw plate. Take a look. It has interchangeable blades, from .025 and thinner. The stainless steel side plates support the thin saw plate and act as a depth stop for dovetail cuts.


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