sawing straight with hand saw


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hey guys, really trying to get better with hand saws and cutting clean and straight. Decided to learn dovetails to practice square and angle cuts. 

I'm using a japanese saw, could you give any suggestions on how to get nice cuts? 

light/hard pressure? angled up/down? fast/slow?

 

from my experimenting it seems that with the japanese saw you want to the handle more angled down and lighter pressure

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I prefer my japanese saw over my lie nielsen saw for a half blind or a sliding dovetail. For these  I saw slow, it's not a race. In some cases I might leave room after sawing to do some chisel work, depends on the joint. For a through dovetail, if the stock is 5/8" or thinner, I will cut fast with my lie nelson saw. One the saw plunges square the rest happens naturally. Anything thicker and I will take my time to ensure the cut stays square and I don't bind or stress the blade. 

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If you have a few extra bucks to really throw yourself into this, I bet the Hand Tool School would be very useful.  I'd like to do it myself someday when I have the time.  Otherwise, check Youtube and The Renaissance Woodworker's channel for free content.  I think videos would be much more beneficial than print.

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You may want to check out the apprenticeship at The Hand Tool school Shannon Can watch what you do and get you cutting straight faster than a jackrabbit through a mulberry bush. that being said, slow to moderate speed. slower = more control but too slow and the teeth have a tendency to catch. angle is a preference. for most Japanese style it is more comfortable to drop the hand. but to what feels natural. as to pressure, use little more than the weight of the saw. pressure just creates undue tension that can cause a saw to wander.

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IMHO I think a lot of this is more to do with body position and being aware of things like stance/balance etc. along with how much pressure you put on the cut.

I've got a couple of irwin jack handsaws which I've learned to cut pretty straight with (just constructional type work)- just recently bought a set of Gyokucho saws (Dozuki, Kataba and Ryoba) and I can cut just as straight with them...perhaps with the exception so far of the ryoba. From what I've personally found pressure is your enemy with a japanese saw - just provide the motion backwards and forwards and let the weight of the blade do the rest  - the minute you try and force it into the wood the more it tries to deform and because of the way our body mechanics work it's likely to trend towards deforming in one direction so you get a cut veering away from your line. Hand position may play a role as most of the Japanese carpenters you see using these tools hold them at the end of the handle furthest from the blade?

I'm loving my new saws - they're making precision cuts far more achievable and the finish on the cut surface is a world apart from anything I've used before.

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9 hours ago, treesner said:

hey guys, really trying to get better with hand saws and cutting clean and straight. Decided to learn dovetails to practice square and angle cuts. 

I'm using a japanese saw, could you give any suggestions on how to get nice cuts? 

light/hard pressure? angled up/down? fast/slow?

 

from my experimenting it seems that with the japanese saw you want to the handle more angled down and lighter pressure

Aside from body mechanics, there are two strategies when using a Japanese pull saw.

The first is to use light pressure. Never force the saw plate - let the saw cut with its own weight.

The second is to always begin the saw cut at the heel of the plate, never anywhere else. That is the stiffest section of the saw, and will reduce any tendency to saw off line or damage the teeth. Once you have a decent kerf started, only then do you lengthen the stroke.

Regards from Perth

Derek

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Light pressure is definitely preferable.

Angle comes down to preference, but it can be helpful to engage the saw plate as much as possible, reducing the chance of twisting.

Fast or Slow is a matter of preference. I find that when I cut fast I have a smoother wall, but the cut veers off more frequently. If I cut slow, I'm usually straighter, but with a more ragged cheek/wall.

 

In terms of ergonomics, I find the saw works best when I relax my grip, and lay my index finger along the spine of the handle. Same when holding a western saw, laying your index finger along the side of the saw. The helps align your arm, wrist, and saw together.

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it can be helpful to engage the saw plate as much as possible, reducing the chance of twisting.

That is why one must start the kerf at the heel of the saw, where the blade is stiffest.

Once you have established the kerf, then extend the amount of saw plate in the kerf, working from the heel forward. 

Note that this is opposite to what one tends to do with a Western backsaw - where the toe is often the first area that cuts a kerf.

Regards from Perth

Derek

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