I’ve long been a fan of Japanese hand saws. Using a pull-stroke cutting action, thinner more flexible blades, and a stick handle design, Japanese saws have a lot going for them, but they have not achieved wide acceptance among Western woodworkers. Now DeWalt has introduced a line of three new hand saws that marry some of the best features of Japanese-style saws to some modern innovations that should improve their appeal to North American woodworkers.

Three to cut
Two of the new saws look familiar to previous users Japanese saws. They both cut on the pull stroke, which gives more control with less buckling of the blade in the cut. That is despite having thinner, more flexible blades, which means thinner kerfs for more precision and less waste. It also means the saw can be flexed against a surface for flush cutting. The single-edge saw looks a lot like a typical Japanese kataba crosscut saw, and the double-edge saw is similar to the Japanese ryoba combination saw. Both of these new DeWalt saws use the same removable rubber-grip handle.
The third saw in the series can’t strictly be called a pull saw because the handle reverses to operate in either direction. DeWalt calls it a flush cut reversing backsaw. It has the rigid metal reinforced back to make it a back saw in the classic sense, but the handle is designed to swivel and lock in either direction. Both the blade and the handle are offset to facilitate flush cutting.
How they work
Anyone who has already used Japanese saws will be comfortable with these saws even though there are some differences. The double-edge (ryoba) saw features a coarse or ripping side (7 tpi) and a fine or crosscutting side (14 tpi), much like its Japanese counterpart, but the grinds and tooth profiles seem subtly different. Still, it seems to cut fine and fast. The single-edge saw features the finer 14 tpi in a grind closely resembling Japanese crosscut saws.
Westerners commonly complain that Japanese saws are not as durable because Western users are prone to try to push the saw, potentially breaking the hardened teeth. I encountered no tooth breakage in my limited tests of these saws, and these blades are designed to be replaceable rather than resharpened.
All of these saws have a fair amount of set to the teeth on both sides of the blades, so don’t expect a completely non-marring flush cut, as you might get from a saw that has all the set removed from the flush cutting side.
With comfortable handles, replaceable blades with quick and sure cutting, these saws are a great way to add Japanese-style cutting to your Western tool kit. For more information visit www.dewalt.com.

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