The Veritas dovetail saws
I have shared my feelings about smaller saws (or any saw for that matter) and how you must master the skills of sharpening or buy throwaways, and for me throwaway is bad, bad form. Saws are not tooth brushes or paper plates and solo cups. They should not go for recycling or in the landfill they simply need to be sharpenable.
My recommended saw
You are asking me for a good saw to cut dovetails with. There are some available on the market from various makers. I don’t generally recommend British makers any more because they have forsaken standards set by early makers to pump out saws less exacting than those made in the USA or Canada. Some excellent ones are very expensive and are indeed pristinely beautiful. They also cut to perfection. In many cases there are waiting lists for such saws sold almost as works of art, but in the day to day of woodworking they are overkill, over-priced and over exaggerated. You do need a good saw, you don’t need to pay through the nose for one. You need one that cuts effectively, smoothly and so on, but more than that you need a saw that can be sharpened. If you follow my book and DVD course they contain all that you need to develop and master the skills of sharpening saws, but in the interim you need a saw that gets you going straight away so here are the only saws I can recommend at this stage. They represent the best value for money in a real saw and all the Veritas range of saws are resharpenable. You should be able to get them for under $60 and they will serve you well. My recommended saw from the range for a first-time-buyer saw would be any with a tooth size of 14-16 and sharpened for a ripcut as they work well for crosscutting too.
My testing policy
I only really recommend tools that I have used in the shop for two years or more. My policy in testing maker’s tools is that after an initial test I tell them what I feel is right and wrong with their tool. I give them six months to correct any error and if they do make corrections I recommend the tool without the statement of concerns I had included in the assessment. if they don’t, then I tell my readers what I found to be good and bad in the tools I assess. I have used the Veritas 10″ ripcut tenon saw for 3 1/2 years and can recommend it for a daily use saws. It’s up to you which size of tooth you choose. I like the finer toothed saws and keep them just for very fine work because they are hard to sharpen. The 14-16 PPI are the best for sharpening and they cut very smoothly.