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Ok. I am really jonesing to learn how to hand cut dovetails. I'm 98% sure I am going to go with a veritas because I like it's price to performance ratio. Seems to get pretty good reviews.

I realize that should I turn into a dovetail monster I would wanna upgrade at some point. Right now I just can't justify spending $100+ for a saw.

So. Here is the point of my post. What is the difference between the veritas dovetail saw and their rip filed carcass saw?

Is it just size? Wouldn't I be better off with a carcass saw that I would also be able to use on deeper tenons?

Help!

Ben

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Ok. I am really jonesing to learn how to hand cut dovetails. I'm 98% sure I am going to go with a veritas because I like it's price to performance ratio. Seems to get pretty good reviews.

I realize that should I turn into a dovetail monster I would wanna upgrade at some point. Right now I just can't justify spending $100+ for a saw.

So. Here is the point of my post. What is the difference between the veritas dovetail saw and their rip filed carcass saw?

Is it just size? Wouldn't I be better off with a carcass saw that I would also be able to use on deeper tenons?

Help!

Ben

(1) OSFA (one sawz fits all)--not a good idea typically; but, the thinner plate tenon saws can adequately cut dovetails. you don't to have an 8" saw dedicated to just that task.

(2) $100 toward an intermediate saw does not fit the more efficient practice of "buying right; buying once." Unfortunately, I have a lot of practice at buying almost what I needed. However, the Veritas back saws have a great reputation and appear to be topnotch backsaws; so, I don't think that you'll have a need to replace it. Just decide that you like, want, and can live with the 'modern' look as opposed to the superbly finished wood handles of other, better saws.

(3) welcome to the world of hand saws! Now, start learning to sharpen what you're going to buy. That day will come! And, by doing so, you can rehab old goodies and discover yet another realm of woodworking delight.

Enjoy,

Archie

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The biggest difference will be in the tooth configuration.

Their carcass saw (rip) is filed at 12 TPI, whereas the DT saws are 16 TPI (small) & 20 TPI (fine cut).

The higher tooth count will give you a smoother cut, but it will take longer.

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From everything I've read the the Veritas saws are equal to LN and other premium saws in performance. They are not "cheaper" saws - just less expensive.

Basically the difference between the dovetail saw and the rip carcass is size and tooth coarseness. The rip carcass will cut faster, be better suited to dovetailing in thick stock and can serve as a tenon saw for SMALL tenons. The trade off is that it will be a tad (really just a tad) more difficult to start than the dovetail saw and probably a little less balanced (front heavy). The dovetail saws will probably be just a bit easier to use when you first start learning.

Personally, I'm of the persuasion that most 9in dovetail saws are two small. My first, and still main, DT saw is a LN 15ppi rip carcass. It is however that worth noting here that the LV Rip Carcass has larger teeth than my LN Rip Carcass.

I like he extra length of the 11 inch saw and have rarely/if ever felt a need for something smaller. This is the saw I learned to cut DTs with.

I will however say that I don't think I'm the norm. Most folks seem to prefer the smaller 9 inch saws. I have very long arms so the 11 inch saw fits my saw stroke. Also, I like to gang cut my tail boards (clamp 2 together to cut at the same time) so the 11 inch really works well since this is the equivalent of cutting thicker stock.

So much with hand tools comes down to personal preference, and ultimately there is a place for both saws in ones nest of saws, but I would sum things up like this.

Rip Carcass: A versatile saw that will work very well for you as you learn to cut dovetails in both thin and thick stock, but will excel at cutting dovetails in stock 3/4" or greater.

Dovetail saw: A more dedicated tool that will provide the greatest ease in learning to cut dovetails in 3/8"-3/4" stock, at the cost of some speed an versatility.

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Ben, I have to take exception with your assumption that you will want to upgrade once you become a dovetail master. I know many a dovetail master that still use the same "beater" they have for many years. If the saw works then no reason to switch away from it.

So more to the point, as stated above, the biggest difference is the pitch of the saw. The geometry is the same and having a bit of hands on experience with both of these saws I can say that they do cut the same. I think the higher pitch is a big deal for the beginner dovetailer and more importantly the beginner sawyer. Starting the cut is extremely important and going with a finer pitch will serve you more on dovetails and tenons than a faster cut. Additionally the depth of cut on the dovetail saw is still like 1.5" which is still plenty sufficient for most tenons. How often do you cut a 2" long tenon unless it is a through tenon.

My thoughts are go with the dovetail saw and get it in the standard 14 pitch geometry. That is a good mix of fine cut and speed. the 19 and 20 ppi blades are great for thin stock but a bear in carcass thickness stock. This will give you an easy start yet not so easy as to be autopilot and I think that is key.

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Starting the cut is extremely important and going with a finer pitch will serve you more on dovetails and tenons than a faster cut. Additionally the depth of cut on the dovetail saw is still like 1.5" which is still plenty sufficient for most tenons. How often do you cut a 2" long tenon unless it is a through tenon.

My thoughts are go with the dovetail saw and get it in the standard 14 pitch geometry. That is a good mix of fine cut and speed. the 19 and 20 ppi blades are great for thin stock but a bear in carcass thickness stock. This will give you an easy start yet not so easy as to be autopilot and I think that is key.

It's not so much the depth of a standard DT that makes it less useful for tenons as much as the length. Sawing the cheek of even a small tenon is the equivalent of sawing 1"-2" thick stock and the extra 2 inches of length on the carcass saw makes a difference. That said, it seems like you are currently most interested in dovetailing , and I do concur with Shannon that you are more likely to be happy with a standard 14tpi DT saw (and even if I didn't agree with Shannon you'd be far better off following his advice over mine, seriously - listen to Shannon). Once again, I don't think my preference for a larger courser DT saw is the norm. And really, neither the DT saw or the carcass saw are ideal for cutting tenons anyway.

Go ahead - order the LV 14tpi DT saw - you'll be happy, and when your ready to cut tenons you'll be better off buying a dedicated tenon saw anyway.

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  • 1 month later...

I will add, I just bought the 14TPI Veritas dovetail saw from Woodcraft. (Yes, the sell them now!) I am taking a dovetail class this weekend at Woodcraft, so I haven't attempted any dovetails with it yet. However, just to get the feel of the saw I made several straight cuts.

The first cut, I just went at and eyeballed for square. I was pretty surprised at how close I came! I then drew a few lines and the cuts were very close to being dead on, nothing that a couple strokes with a chisel couldn't correct. This is coming from a dozuki, which as hard as I tried, I never could get a good cut with it. The saw is very well weighted and balanced which is an incredible benefit to making good clean cuts!

Ben, I know your original post was almost 2 months ago, but if you haven't pulled the trigger yet, do it, you will not be sorry.

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That's exactly what I did. I got the 14 tpi Veritas and I love it.

I'm a few projects into it now and honestly... my dovetails are starting to look... dare I say... presentable.

I'm about to get the cross cut carcass. I've been abusing my dovetail saw using it for all sorts of cross cutting. I should stop that. I have actually found that a handsaw is the fastest way to get things done many times. Who'd-A-Thunk?!?!

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I want to go back to something Shannon said about how you can cut good dovetails with an old beater saw. Yes, you need a decent, well- sharpened dovetail saw, but this idea that you need a premium saw to produce good work is probably a result of good marketing more than anything. In fact, I'd suggest a really good set of bench chisels is a much better investment for dovetailing than a super expensive saw. To put this in perspective, I'm about 2/3 through a chest of drawers right now that by my last estimates requires around 120 tails (I don't even want to do the math to figure out the number of pins). My dovetail saw is probably about a 5-10% contribution to the speed and quality of the work, 60% is just skill and practice, and another 30% is my chisels. It took a project with this magnitude of hand tool work to really get an appreciation for how little the saw itself contributes to the final product. You'd be amazed at how far technique and practice will get you. In fact, I might try cutting my next set of tails with a flush cut saw just to test this principle :)

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I've got both the Veritas Rip and Crosscut Carcass saws. I'm yet to use them in a project(just got them about a month ago) but I've made several test tenons in preparation for my next project. I'm very happy with the feel of the saws and I was able to get a much better result with the carcass saws than I expected. I'm looking forward to using them in a project to see how they do.

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I want to go back to something Shannon said about how you can cut good dovetails with an old beater saw. Yes, you need a decent, well- sharpened dovetail saw, but this idea that you need a premium saw to produce good work is probably a result of good marketing more than anything.

Aye. My dovetail and carcass saws are both made from old drywall taping knives. They cut dovetails just fine. How well the saw is sharpened and set is more important than anything else.

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I think the guys that tune up old planes and sharpen old saws into fine woodworking tools are great. But, until you know how a plane and saw should feel in the hand and look to the eye, my advice is that your first plane and saw should be new that works out of the box. Or a used plane and saw that is already tuned up and ready to go is another option.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with Rob to an extent. The Veritas for me was not my first saw. My first saw was a Japanese style saw, which was comparatively inexpensive, and is very sharp. The cuts it made were good clean cuts, however the issue was I never felt like I had good control with it. I still use that saw for other quick cuts, and does very well with those. I bought the Veritas, and the difference was night and day!

Now, when I went to Woodcraft to buy the Veritas, the sales man immediately brought out the Rob Cosman saw along with the Veritas. The RC is over 3.5 times more expensive then the Veritas! After using my Veritas (and like Sonic Fedora, starting to get presentable DTs) I do see where there would be an advantage with having the front of the saw have a high TPI then rest of the saw. But it doesn't seem worth it. I have found that I have gotten very accurate and clean cuts with the Veritas, then use my chisels to do any clean-up work. (Definitely agree with Rob on the chisels, get the best you can afford!)

Looking at other options, my local Woodcraft sells Dovetail saws that range in cost from $20-$50. If you like the Dozuki style saw, you can easily stay within that price range. The other options are the "Gents" style western saws. Personally I have not tried any of these as the research I have done had pretty much talked me out of them. They typically are not very sharp out of the box, so work needs to be done on them before you even start cutting. As someone pointed out with restoring old hand saws, if you are not experienced with using hand saws, getting them sharpen properly could be a real challenge.

To me, the Veritas is a great option as an entry into the premium hand saws, but keeping it under $100. There are a lot more expensive options out there, which I am sure each has their own advantage, but you do get to the point of diminishing returns. The saws are better, but are they 2-4 times better to justify the 2-4 times the cost?

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  • 1 month later...

I was at a Lie-Nielsen showcase thing today (they rarely come to Canada) and had my first hands-on with their products. They showed me their newest thin-plate dovetail saw. I tried a few from 14 tpi to 16 tpi and I liked this one the best. The saw had a 0.015" thick saw plate as opposed to 0.02" so it cut very thin lines and really really quickly! I found it was very easy to make starting cuts having more teeth than the regular 14tpi. I also like how it was 15tpi which was in between the regular and fine cuts. If I hadn't just bought this Veritas BUS plane I would have gone back tomorrow and placed an order. It's $125 too.

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