Recommendations for a good handsaw

Robert Parker

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I've got a few hand saws that are okay but really pretty basic - a panel saw, a couple of mitre-back saws. The nicer ones I have are my fretting and nut carving saws, and I don't want to dull them on other projects.

I'm thinking a good dovetail saw or something similar would be really useful for things like cutting scarf-joints, heel tenons, and other similar types of jobs, not all of which are guitar related.

Can y'all provide some good suggestions? I feel a little overwhelmed trying to make sense of all the options.
 

jvin248

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.

Harbor Freight, $10 flush cut trim saw (wood handle, single sided pull saw).

I have a couple, one has the kerf hammered down to fret slot width and a hardwood backer stuck to one side to keep it straight and give a depth stop.

I have a flame hardened cross-cut saw I bought from Big Lots in the early 90s that I still use from time to time.

.... point is, you can go cheap and still have a great tool.

However, I had a Craftsman 1/4 sheet pad sander from the 80s that burned out last summer. I bought a $16 random orbital sander at Walmart to replace it and I realized .. I should have listened to Norm back in the 90s and got an orbital back then.

.
 

akwusmc

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Hand saws are like a lot of tools ... the more things they do the fewer things they do well.

There's also the Eastern vs Western saw debate. Eastern (pull) saws are more suited to softwoods, Western saws to hardwoods. Yes, I know ... you can cut hardwoods with a pull saw blah blah blah (you can also sharpen your knife with a rock) but each saw is more suited to the one and not the other.

I would suggest making a list of what you need the saw to do vs what you'd like the saw to do and go from there. Once you've narrowed down your requirements, the builders here can give you better recommendations.
 

BPW666

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Are you a hand tool purist? I have a Veritas dovetail saw which is super nice. But i use it for cutting dovetails and very rarely guitar construction. I use a range of power and hand tools as dictated by my limited space so i'm sure there are lots of things i'm not thinking of.

But, I can't think of that many situations where a posh hand saw is all that needed. You can cut a scarf joint with almost anything, it's cleaning it up with a hand plane that does the important work.
 

Roxy13

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Show me a nut cutting saw :) I've been rough cutting with a hacksaw. I didn't know there was such a thing.
 

pshupe

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Show me a nut cutting saw :) I've been rough cutting with a hacksaw. I didn't know there was such a thing.
Not sure if you were joking or not but I start slots with these and then files.
Capture.JPG


Cheers Peter.
 

Roxy13

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Not sure if you were joking or not but I start slots with these and then files.
View attachment 385173

Cheers Peter.
I was being honest :) I just never noticed anything specific to cutting bone nuts.

Is there one or two sizes best to have for bone blanks or should I get the whole set?
 

pshupe

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I bought the whole set because it was "in the budget". :D You could probably get away with just a couple, or none actually. I have just used the files in the past and they are fine. The files bind as you go deeper but if I shape the nut closer to final height as I go it works well. I find a lot of these tools, especially from Stew Mac, are a little gimicky. Do they help and make it easier? Yes. Do you need them? Absolutely not. I'm a bit of a tool addict and give out product numbers for b'days and christmas gifts. I have a lot of tools from Stew Mac and Lee Valley that are definitely not required tools.

Cheers Peter.
 

Robert Parker

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Good questions y'all. Let's see....

I am not a hand tool purist. I still use my table saw, router, and drill press a lot. However, I find certain hand tools either more effective/faster or simply more enjoyable to use for some things. I know many things can be cut with any old saw, but i am also a bit of a tool addict, that's much more fun!

More seriously, though.... I don't need or want a set of crazy expensive saws just to say I have them. But any tool that is more comfortable and well designed gets used more often.

I'm thinking something along the lines of a good cutting, medium-to-fine toothed saw. Yes, some would be tenons and dovetails (so, most often a rip-cut, yes?).

BPW666, was the Veritas worth the price? They make great tools, but I wasn't sure I needed to spend quite that much unless it was really comfortable (I have average size hands with slightly longer than average fingers).
 

Ripthorn

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I have a couple of the Veritas molded spine dovetail saws and absolutely love them. They also make carcass saws and tenon saws which are on my list. Totally worth it to me, they are very comfortable, they are extremely sharp, and cut very smoothly (once you get the cut started). You can sometimes pick up manufacturing seconds during their cyber monday sale, but you have to be on shortly after midnight to get them, usually.

If you can find an older Disston or similar dovetail saw, sharpening them is well documented and not rocket science. I have an older one and I have also made a new handle for a cheap Stanley. They work fine, but the Veritas are just a joy to use.
 

BPW666

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Yeah i totally hear you friend, I'm a bit of a tool obsessive too. That's partly why i ended up with this one. I always love the look of veritas tools but can't face the price. This didn't seem overly expensive compared to over saws and in budget so i decided to treat myself. It's a great tool and a pleasure to use. That said, I'm building an amp cab at the moment and after my first attempt at cutting dovetails by hand I'm the proud owner of a Leigh jig. I'm going to have another go at hand cutting dovetails on a smaller scale project.
 

Roxy13

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I bought the whole set because it was "in the budget". :D You could probably get away with just a couple, or none actually. I have just used the files in the past and they are fine. The files bind as you go deeper but if I shape the nut closer to final height as I go it works well. I find a lot of these tools, especially from Stew Mac, are a little gimicky. Do they help and make it easier? Yes. Do you need them? Absolutely not. I'm a bit of a tool addict and give out product numbers for b'days and christmas gifts. I have a lot of tools from Stew Mac and Lee Valley that are definitely not required tools.

Cheers Peter.
That is how I've been doing it. File slots, take some off the top and keep doing that until I am happy with the slot heights. I am still slow as heck on nuts though. It takes me 4-5 hours before I'm finally satisfied. I hope that time improves as I do more of them.

Sorry, OP, didn't mean to hijack here.
 

Robert Parker

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No problem, Roxy. I've got the full set of nut saws, too. They were a Christmas gift, and they've really come on handy. My method is to use feeler gauges to establish a pencil line .020" above the first fret, and then sand the nut down til it's just above the top of the pencil line. That way it's around .030" above the first fret. Then I do all six strings with the .010" saw using down to .020". Go back and enlarge with the appropriate size saws, and finally finish with the files. It keeps the binding to a minimum.

Thanks for the info on the Veritas saws. I might start with a standard dovetail saw and see how that goes.
 


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