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This is not dedicated to the woodworkers, the gear hounds or the power tool junkies. This isn’t for the contractors, the rehabbers or those who won’t touch anything that couldn’t be described as a “fixer-upper.” This is a song for average homeowners willing to get their hands dirty, who are interested in simple solutions that work and in always getting the best bang for the buck. And that bang is the Japanese pull saw.
Western saws typically have teeth that cut on the push stroke; their thick, rigid blades create a large kerf (space left by the blade). Japanese-style pull saws are just the opposite. Their thin blades that cut on the pull, the benefit being less required force and greater precision.
Here’s the best part: Western handsaws come in either a crosscut version (perpendicular to the grain, 17 tpi) or a rip version (parallel to the grain, 9 tpi). But Japanese saws come with both sets of teeth, making for a much more versatile tool and an all-around better investment.
As you begin to research Eastern saws, you’ll come across two main types: the dozuki (pictured above) and the ryoba. Dozuki means “with trunk.” Like a Western tenon-cutting or dovetail saw, the dozuki blade has thick reinforcement attached to its top for superior cutting support. But if you’re just beginning to explore the world of hand tools, the ryoba is your saw. As mentioned, it has both crosscut- and ripping-teeth configurations, making it a great universal option for the jobsite, workshop or office. Not to mention, ryoba saws disassemble easily—storage is simple and they can fit into a small tool bag or box.
Whenever someone I know heads to college for the first time or gets a new apartment, this is my gift. Its uses are many, and at $20, it’s probably the best DIY buy out there. My go-to starting model is the Shark 10-2440. While it’s not as cool looking as the Japanese-made models that sell at fine woodworking shops, its price and versatility can’t be beat.