One of my favourite tenon saws

These are my last eBay purchases before my US trip. The tenon saw is a Spear & Jackson 8″ dovetail saw with a brass back. Steel backed ones work as well too, but are slightly lighter in weight.

This particular dovetail saw is one of my favourites.

The man who sent this saw took great trouble to bubble wrap it, double box it and then wrap the cardboard box in brown paper.

Thats true of the plane also. I really like that in dealing with people. For any faults people have buying or selling on eBay, I am amazed that the items I have always received have had pristine packaging. I am sure others have had bad experiences, but I love to see how people care for shipping woodworking tools.

The Stanley #4 smoothing plane

The plane is obviously a Stanley #4. Another favourite plane of mine and one I have been espousing as one of the best. With this plane in its most basic form I can do almost anything I need in the workshop where planing is the issue; no matter the wood.

9 thoughts on “One of my favourite tenon saws”

  1. Paul Moldovanos

    Hi again Paul. I just received a GHE Charlesworth Tenon saw from a 2nd hand tool dealer in Devon for 26.00 Pounds. I am amazed at how thick and heavy the solid brass back is and the handle is beautiful. Now all I need is to learn how to sharpen it…May I ask; the Americans tend to favour much larger and wider tenon saws. They say they are easier to keep straight. Then why are the antiques small? And where would I need to cut deeper than what my current saw is able to reach? Warm Regards, Paul South Africa

    1. You don’t say what size your saw is so I will assume it to be a tenon saw, which would put it 10″ long and usually up to 14″ with 12″ being the most common for users today. For cutting tenons, if you gave 2 1/2″ of width useable before hitting the back, this will take care of all tenon cutting. Anything wider would need a handsaw and not a tenon saw anyway and a handsaw is thick enough to need no rigid spine. I think users in the 18 – 1900’s were used to finer saws and actually used three or four saws in each category and size with different sized teeth suited to task. For instance I have a 14′ tenon saw with 10 PPI and use this for ripping only on wide and long tenons. This is a saw I sharpen for an aggressive rip too; so that it motors through the wood quickly but requires more strength. Today I was doing some filming and I was cutting thin mahogany and used a 15PPI 14″ tenon saws sharpened with a passive rake. This is true of small sizes too. So, having said all of that, there is a place you will come to where you will want more saws, planes, chisels or whatever to set up for specific tasks. Buy them when they are found for a good price, wait for the best and look out for them wherever you can.

      1. Paul- The tenon saws we used in class this summer were either the Veritas dovetail saw for DTs and fine work, or were one of various tenon saws that typically had a deeper plate and were a bit heavier. The Tyzak and Son that I used seemed typical in size amongst those non-DT saws and had 15 ppi filed rip. With a few exceptions, we could have done everything with that DT saw, but it was nice having a bit heavier and more aggressive cut from this saw vs. the slower Veritas DT. Actually, I found it more than nice and quite beneficial. I do not see saws on eBay or new ones for sale that have 15 ppi rip except for one carcase saw which is smaller and lighter. So, my question is, did you re-tooth the saws we used? I just don’t see any such beast as 15 ppi 12″ saw with 3″ plate when I look. Rips are usually 10 to 12 ppi and cross-cut at most 13. If you buy more than 12 ppi, it is typically a smaller, lighter DT saw. My thought at the moment is to get a 13 ppi cross-cut and refile it as rip.

        1. Actually, most tenon saws are filed 14PPI. rarely are they sharpened as crosscut/ That is, filed with fleam teeth. Even dovetail saws like the ones we use at the school are either a 14 or 16PPI. I don;t use any cross-cut back saws but I do use panel saws cut for rip and also for crosscut with fleam teeth. My method of sharpening, which was so with the old Tyzack you used. As for buying modern Tyzacks, Footprints and so on. These are not the companies of old. Neither are Garlick, Thomas Flinn, Crown, Pax, Lynx. These saws are made by one Sheffield maker who bought the names as they went out of business. It was a shrewd move at the time. These are made in Sheffield and it would be interesting to know if the plate is still Sheffield steel or whether it’s bought in.

          1. I could easily have miscounted by one point. I think if you review what is on the market these days, you will find few, if any, tenon saws with 12″ plate and 3″ depth of cut that are rip with more than 10 ppi. Lie Nielsen’s is 10 unless you buy their crosscut, which is 13. Veritas does not offer a saw with 3″ depth. And so it goes for the other current makers except, maybe, the gaggle of saws related to garlick/Flinn et al. I’ve sent them a note asking for clarification. Wenzloff via Lee Valley is 12 tpi, so about 13 ppi, but is crosscut and Wenzloff has temporarily stopped offering saws at their site. So, if one wants a tenon saw with fine enough teeth to be a general use saw filed rip, it’s looking like one must buy cross cut and refile. I hope I’m wrong but I’ve spent several days looking after giving up on the U.S. ebay. This isn’t so much a question about quality as it is a question about _existence._ I see nothing to buy that meets the 14 ppi spec’s with 12″ plate and 3″ depth.

  2. Hi Paul,
    You mention brass backed tenon saws as opposed to steel. When I found a tenon saw in the second-hand tool shop in Bristol, I chose it because the baalnce seemed better than the brass backed ones. Does the heavier brass backing make for a sweeter cutting experience?
    I note what you say about the set on new saws; On the last hardpoint saw I bought, (before seeing the light) the set was so aggressive as to render it almost unuseable.
    Incidentally, since coming across your book and blog, I examined all the power tools I owned, tried to remember if I had used them in the past year, and if not sold them on e-bay. I sold for over 300£!

    1. I personally believe that the folded brass back does a couple of things that some very expensive saws made today don’t have. One, the folded brass pinches and grips the steel along the full length of the brass. This allows the saw plate itself to be shocked by tapping the brass (or steel) spline with a hammer in various places to remove any curve along the plate. This works wonderfully and a nice brass-backed 14″ tenon saw that an eBayer sold this week sold for only £3.00 because he mentioned that this was the case with the one being sold. I took it from the packaging and made my adjustment in seconds and the saw was dead straight. Two, brass on steel and pinched this way absorbs vibration better than a steel back. So it’s more this that makes the brass back a little sweeter in the cut than the weightier aspect of the brass. Generally, makers used thinner steel than the brass saws had so they did feel marginally tinnier. Many German-made saws have cheap steel splines and they are often super-thin not just thin. I have tried to find a good mainland European saw and always failed to find a good saw or a good maker. Much to my chagrin, there is only a couple of makers in the UK now that make saws. They use good steel but the majority of the products they make are poor end results although they do make a couple of good ones at the high end and most of them have good steel, good brass and good wood so you can see them more as a kit and make a decent saw from them. They may have different maker names on them like Crown, Robert Lee, Garlick, Thomas Flynn and so on, but they are all made by the one maker for the main part.

  3. Ben,
    I just obtained, inexpensively, a pair of older Spear & Jackson brass backed saws, 8″ and my first count — with no magnification — is about 20 TPI. I plan to straighten and sharpen these. Why are you commenting , “Meh”?

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