Old School Sawing

There are plenty of times when power tools just aren’t practical to use. I live in a senior housing complex with 4 units to a building. It’s Winter in New England so working outside as I do in Summer is out of the question. Working inside my 10’x20′ single room apartment requires a certain need to be quiet, so as not to disturb my elderly neighbors on either side of my apartment. Hand tools become the norm therefore if I wish to continue with my woodworking hobby in the off months.


I’ve accepted the challenges hand woodworking demands and have been building my “kit” of tools to make working wood by hand practical and accurate. My collection of tools now includes a good set of sharp chisels, two Japanese pull saws and a couple of versatile hand planes. After all, old school woodworkers have been making beautiful homes and furniture for hundreds if not thousands of years. The masters of long lasting wooden homes, temples and furniture have been from Japan.

Working by hand has a certain pleasure to it as the results are entirely up to the practitioner. Acquiring the necessary skills to properly saw, chisel & rout take time to develop. I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos on techniques by master craftsmen with wood and have chosen my tools accordingly.

My two Japanese pull saws are example of old school methods perfected over many generations. These saws cut on the pull stroke unlike Western saws that cut on the push stroke. Cutting on the pull stroke allows saw blades to be thinner, producing thinner kerfs and allowing less need for reinforced, thicker blades. The pull saws come not only sharper but stay sharp longer, are easily replaced instead of required by Wester push saws. The finished cut is much smoother than push saws, so much so that they require little or no final sanding. I like that!

In the photos below The English Woodworker, Richard Maguire, demonstrates the use of a two sided Japanese pull saw in ripping thick stock by hand. http://www.theenglishwoodworker.com/about-us. In an attempt to develop the skills of sawing longer boards he climbed up atop his workbench to attain a steeper attack angle as well as more control in his cutting routine. He’s a lot younger and more agile than me as I’d never be able, or willing to duplicate this technique. 🙂 Go Richard!




3 thoughts on “Old School Sawing

    • It’s very cool because it’s double sides and large. One side has teeth for aggressive cutting while ripping a board with the grain and the other side has smaller teeth for crosscutting a board across the grain. Japanese carpenters use this type of saw for cutting down trees and building temples, all by hand.

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