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The Best Japanese Saws For Woodworking

One of the least known saws in woodworking is the Japanese saw. Because of this saws unique design it is often overlooked as a gadget and not the precision handsaw alternative that it is. But, its far from an oddity you’ll put in the tool chest and forget. In this article learn about the different types of Japanese saws and what’s best for your woodworking projects.

If your only experience with handsaws is a standard, full-sized saw used to cut through 2×4’s then a Japanese saw will be a surprise. While a traditional handsaw pushes thru wood, a Japanese saw has an advanced tooth design that lets you PULL the saw through wood.

Which, as you might guess, gives you better control over the work piece and the saw.

In this guide we’ll cover:

  • Types of Japanese saws
  • Brand names and manufacturers
  • What projects are best for a Japanese saw
  • Dovetail saws
  • Ripping vs. crosscut configurations
  • Cutting holes in the middle of a board

BEST ALL AROUND SUIZAN 9.5-INCH

BEST FOR DOVETAILS – DOZUKI

BEST COMPACT – SUIZAN 5-INCH


Types of Japanese Saws

Types of Japanese Saws for Woodworking

When it comes to Japanese saws there isn’t just one type of saw. There are many varieties:

  1. Dozuki saws feature a rigid back that doesn’t allow the blade spine to flex
  2. Ryoba saws on the other hand feature a push and pull design with a double edge design
  3. Azebiki Japanese saws feature a special, short curved blade that is best for starting holes in the middle of wood.
  4. And Kataba saws have teeth on one side but lack the rigid back of the Dozuki

While there are a handful of other saw types and configurations, these four types of Japanese saws are the most common.

Lastly, there are a variety of sizes of each saw from 4″ up to 12″ in blade length.

JAPANESE PULL SAW Tooth Design

Japanese Pull Saw Tooth Design

First, and no surprise, one of the reasons woodworkers love these saws is for their ability to do flush cuts.  But, for saw designs like the Ryoba and Kataba to perform flush cuts it requires a special tooth design.

So as you can see from the close-up above, the outside of the teeth are flat to the blade edge. And, the teeth are ground and hooked backwards to allow for cutting action on the “push” and “pull”.

All of which means the saw won’t scratch the wood it’s laying flat against.

Japanese Saw Features

Japanese Pull Saw Features

Beyond the various styles of blades and back design you’ll find a few features of these saws that are unique:

  • Thin blades on a Japanese saw have a kerf of less than 1/32 of an inch
  • Straight handles are most common on these saws, giving you precise control
  • Folding blades are available to protect the blade edge and are great portability
  • Curved blades for starting cuts in the middle of a board

Japanese Pull Saw Uses

Japanese Saw Uses

By now you might be intrigued by the design of this saw, but what you can do with one?

Well, here are a few of the top uses:

  • Flush cutting thru-tenons
  • Precision small wood cuts for hobby projects
  • Starting holes in wood from the center of a board
  • Cutting curves in thin pieces of wood
  • Cutting dowels flush to the surface
  • Cleaning out corners of wood when glue or imperfections surface

Top Japanese Saws for Woodworking

So what’s the right saw for you? Well, since these saws don’t all fit into one size, blade design or even form let’s take a look at what might fit your projects.


Suizan 9-1/2 inch - Japanese Saw

#1 – Ryoba Japanese Saw: sUIZAN 9.5 iNCH

The Suizan is the classic double edged saw that features an aggressive “pull” cut. With almost 24″ in total length, a 9-1/2″ blade, cane wrapped handle it has all the features you’ll need.

Plus, it’s Made in Japan by a manufacturer with over 100 years of experience.


Suizan Dozuki Japanese Saw

#2 – Dozuki Japanese pull Saw For Dovetails: sUIZAN 6 iNCH

The Dozuki pull saw is a classic saw that operates the exact opposite of the “western style” handsaws. And this 6-inch model is a compact pull saw made by Suizan.

Lastly, as a this saw features a rigid spine and a shorter length it is a great choice for dovetail joinery.


Suizan 5 inch flush cut - Japanese Saw

#3 – Flush Cut Japanese Saw: sUIZAN 5 INCH

It’s not often in woodworking you’ll need a saw that can make a flush cut. But, when you do need to cut a dowel, tenon, or other protruding piece of wood flush then a flush cut saw is your tool of choice. Like other saws of this type, you’ll find a smooth consistent cut and teeth that are specially designed to cut inward (not outward).

And, with harder woods requiring a less aggressive cut this SUIZAN model features a side for softwoods AND hardwoods. In fact, it’s one of the few blades that features a 17 tooth-per-inch and 25 tooth-per-inch (TPI).  

The higher the TPI (eg. 25 TPI), the more teeth and the smoother the cut.


Azebiki Japanese Saw

#4 – Azebiki Japanese Saw: GYOKUDO AZEBIKI SAW

Easily the most interesting of the Japanese saws, an Azebiki is designed specifically for starting wood cuts where there’s no edge.

To accomplish this unique task, which isn’t possible with western handsaws, the blade is curved. And by using gradual back and forth motion the blade will sink deeper into the wood until it’s through. 


Suizan 9-1/2 inch - Kataba Japanese Saw

#5 – kataba Japanese Saw: sUIZAN 10.5 iNCH kATABA

The Kataba saw is a mix of both the Dozuki and Ryoba saw designs.

First, this saw features one cutting edge like the Dozuki but without the spine. Secondly, like the Ryoba it doesn’t have a spine on back edge.

All of which make for a saw that is great for a variety of cuts and able to push through the wood to the full length of the blade.

Tip: if you’re not sure, go with the Ryoba. You’ll have two cutting surfaces to choose from in case one goes dull.


Kughiki Japanese Saw

#6 – Kughiki Japanese Saw: KUGHIKI 5.25 iNCH

There’s only so many permutations of a thin, specially design that can be made. But this straight design with a short blade is a variation that can adapt to project needs. 

Perhaps its why fans of Japanese pull saws tend to own 4 or 5 and not just 1 saw.

Japanese Saws for Dovetails

Japanese Saws For Dovetails

If you’ve attempted to make dovetails with a router you know it’s a tricky process, even with a dovetail jig

And table saw box joints are an option (without the router and jig expense).

But, a Japanese dovetail saw offers up an alternative that allows just about any type and angle of dovetail:

  • Sunrise dovetail
  • Square dovetails
  • Through dovetails
  • And many others without limitations of a router and jig

However you’ll likely need a coping saw and small chisel to finish out your joints. Since one limitation of the Japanese pull saws are their wide blades don’t flex for the dovetail bottom joints.

Sharpening Japanese pull Saws

Sharpen Japanese Saw

Unfortunately, because the teeth on a Japanese saw are typically made of 3 angles it’s best to NOT sharpen them.

Instead:

  • Store the saw in a protective case to avoid damage to the fine teeth
  • Buy a saw that allows for a replacement blade (and buy a spare with the saw)
  • Attempting to fix a tooth or two is possible with a lot of patience, short strokes and some magnification

Japanese PUll Saw Accessories

Magnetic Tool Holders

First, with these saws unique design, you’ll want to make sure to protect them. And that includes both proper storage in the workshop but also while during transport.

But also buy a few jigs and accessories to allow you to make new projects:

  • Magnetic tool bar holder
  • Protective sleeves
  • Dovetail marker gauge
  • Wheel marking gauge for dovetail depth setting

Manufacturers

There are, of course, a number of manufacturers of Japanese saws, including:

Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions

 

Summary

While most woodworking tools are common across the globe, Japanese saws break that trend by offering a regional design to enhance your woodworking. Just having the option to hand cut a dovetail with a precision saw makes it worth the investment.

Bestseller No. 1
RUITOOL Japanese Hand Saw 6 Inch Double Edge Sided...
  • 【Durable & Flexible Saw Blade】: The hand saw blade is made of SK5 high-carbon steel. The Japanese pull saw teeth are processed by a high-frequency hardening machine imported from Japan, and the hardness can reach HRC60-63 degrees.
  • 【Double Edged】: One side of Japanese hand saw is 17TPI for cutting hardwood, and the other side is 14TPI for cutting softwood.
  • 【Hardened 3-Edge Teeth】: The hand saw has three-sided grinding gear design, sharp edge, faster chip removal, and smoother cutting.
  • 【Comfortable Handle】: Exquisite beech wood handle and slight curve design make the saw handle comfortable to hold, and the operation is more labor-saving.
  • 【Enrich Your Woodworking Life】: Straight shank double-sided small hand saw, small and light, suitable for fine cutting and small parts production, it is the best choice for woodworking DIY.
SaleBestseller No. 2
KERYE Japanese Pull Saw 9.5 Inch, Hand Dovetail...
  • 【 Larger Working Area 】 Compared with 6 Inch saw, 9.5 inch pull saw enables larger working area for more working possibilities. Meanwhile, 9.5 inch saw saves at least 50% force than 6 inch in principles of Physics;
  • 【 Sturdy Durable Material 】 We have blade made from SK5 high carbon steel, which is known for its hardness and wear-resistant; and we have handle made from beech and rattan, which is light and ergonomic for time and force saving;
  • 【 3-Sided Grinding Teeth 】 As woodworking professional knows, saw with 3-sided grinding teeth is sharper and wear-resistant and thus has a longer life span. Besides, the denser side teeth are quenched to be harder;
  • 【 2-in-1 Pull Saw 】 This bi-lateral saw has two sides with teeth, one with teeth of 10 TPI( rougher side) and the other, 17 TPI(denser side). The rougher side is more suitable for rip cut ( quick and less detailed cut ); the denser side is more suitable for cross cut ( comparatively slower and more detailed cut);
  • 【 Reliable After Sale 】 We have 24 months after-sale support and 100% problem-solving service.
Bestseller No. 3
SUIZAN Japanese Pull Saw Hand Saw 9.5 Inch Ryoba...
8,140 Reviews
SUIZAN Japanese Pull Saw Hand Saw 9.5 Inch Ryoba...
  • JAPANESE STYLE PULL SAW: This product is a “Pull Saw.” Most people are used to European saws, called “push saws,” which cut through a pushing motion. On the other hand, Japanese saws cut materials via pulling and are called “pull saws.” In comparison to “push saws,” this Japanese product is lighter in weight, requires less power, and results in a cleaner edge.
  • JAPANESE STEEL: All SUIZAN Japanese saws consist of top quality Japanese steel. The high-quality steel makes razor sharp cuts.
  • MADE IN JAPAN: All SUIZAN woodworking tools are manufactured in Japan by Japanese master craftsmen. The whole process of making these tools are completed in one of Japan’s towns known for its craft-making tradition with a history of over 100 years.
  • DIVERSIFY YOUR WOODWORKING LIFE: No matter if you are a master or a beginner, using traditional Japanese-style saws gives you a brand new experience and lets you make a wider range of woodworking products, thus changing your life!
  • Since each handle is individually wrapped by hand by craftspeople, its appearance may vary from one to another. Cracks may occur during the manufacturing process. It is not a defect.
Bestseller No. 4
SUIZAN Japanese Ryoba Pull Saw 7 Inch Double Edge...
  • JAPANESE STYLE PULL SAW: This product is a “Pull Saw.” Most people are used to European saws, called “push saws,” which cuts through a pushing motion. On the other hand, Japanese saws cut materials via pulling and are called “pull saws.” In comparison to “push saws,” this Japanese product is lighter in weight, requires less power, and results in a cleaner edge.
  • JAPANESE STEEL: All SUIZAN Japanese saws consist of top quality Japanese steel. The high-quality steel makes razor sharp cuts.
  • MADE IN JAPAN: All SUIZAN products are manufactured in Japan by Japanese master craftsmen. The whole process of making these tools are completed in one of Japan’s towns known for its craft-making tradition with a history of over 100 years.
  • DIVERSIFY YOUR WOODWORKING LIFE: No matter if you are a master or a beginner, using traditional Japanese-style saws gives you a brand new experience and lets you make a wider range of woodworking products, thus changing your life!
Bestseller No. 5
KERYE Japanese Dovetail Pull Saw 9.5 Inch, Hand...
  • 【Superiorities】Compared with typical Japanese dovetail saw, KY02 is thicker to 0.024 inch and longer to 9.5 inch. It can achieve stabler and wider cut;
  • 【Parameters】 This saw has a total length of 24 IN ( blade length: 9.5 IN ), weight of 0.6 lb ( handle weight: 0.2 lb ), teeth of 17 TPI ( TPI: teeth per inch ). With this saw, you can achieve better working efficiency with less power and still get precise cutting;
  • 【Material】KY02 ryoba flush cut saw is made from SK5 high standard metal, light to 0.3lb beech handle as well as soft and smooth rattan;
  • 【Usage】Japanese style pull saw should be pulled with more force rather than pushed during woodworking. It performs better to saw/chisel a groove before you really start cutting;
  • 【After-sale】24 months after-sale support; 100% problem-solving service.

Last update on 2022-08-16 at 05:03 / Images from Amazon

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