Here we go, I'm diving off into the deep end again. Japanese saws this time. God help us all. More blind leading the blind, haha.
Not much gets written about Japanese saws, which is a pity considering how many people use them. And not just Japanese guys either. Out of all the many Japanese carpentry tools out there, it is the saw that has been most widely adopted. I would be willing to bet that out of every 100 new saws sold today, 95 of them have a Japanese style saw tooth. Go to Home Depot and look at their offerings (all 4 of them! Obviously few people are using ANY type of handsaw.).
The not-so-slight problem is that, while Japanese saws are amazingly awesome creatures that are in use world-wide, the industry has shifted almost exclusively to the disposable blade philosophy. Don't get me wrong, industry has chosen this route for good reasons. Annual saw sales must number in the 10's of millions, and to supply that demand......
Factory made saws ( the Japanese manufactured ones at least) are reasonably priced and really good. My Nakaya D210C kumiko saw cost only about $50 and is a REALLY nice saw, cuts fast and smooth, and is surprisingly hefty. Obscenely thin kerf. Definitely the nicest store bought saw I've ever had and when the blade gets dull, I can get a replacement for only $15 or so. I mentioned this saw before but to reiterate, it's a tool worth buying. A bit harder to find, but worth it.
|Nakaya D210C from toolsfromjapan.com|
Bridge City Tools sells a gussied-up version of this same saw, near as I can tell.
It costs over 2x as much, and I'd be embarrassed to use it in public though.
The other saws that are pictured above are:
- Z-saw 265, a good general purpose saw, $40 or so, commonly available and you can get a 6-pack of replacement blades for $50
- Gyokucho #290, a small yet hefty and stiff little saw. Very easy to use and a nice size for joinery. The curved tip lets you start the cut in the middle of a panel, handy. Hida Tool sells them for $29
- Vaughan BS150D Bear saw, cheap feeling and kind of flimsy, this saw is actually quite good. $18 at my (used to be) local Fred Meyer general store. The saw is really made by Zetto ( the Z-saw guys), but repackaged and sold under the Vaughan name. Super flexible flush cutting blade perfect for trimming dowels and kerfing joints for a perfect fit. What you do with the original gray plastic handle is up to you, haha.
Not so long ago in Japan, there were blacksmiths in every village and every carpenter would've been using handmade saws. And unlike now, carpenters were expected to know how to sharpen their own tools, and if major saw repair was needed, there were people who knew how to do that too. Between everyone buying disposable blade saws and the old-timers dying off, there are less and less people out there who really know how to fix up the old saws, much less make new ones.
If a person is so inclined, there are literally thousands of old Japanese saws that can be put back to good use. Rusty, neglected old saws sell for far less than the cost of postage, and often all they require is a good cleaning and the attention of someone knowledgeable about the use of a yasuri file. Lots of these old saws are handmade and are FAR higher quality than you can buy today. Anywhere.
I have no idea how many people, worldwide, have any more than the most basic knowledge about saws and what makes them work, Western or Japanese.
Not many, in any event. I'm not in that number, not even close, but I've got some ideas.
My European/South American correspondent, Sebastian Gonzalez is one of the only guys out there who is actually working on this stuff. He's got ideas too.
Curious? I am.