Stocking stuffer #2 – S&J Sharpenable Handsaws Work Great

I blogged on this earlier somewhere. Personally I find it poor practice to buy disposable saws (unless of course there is good reason or need), especially for craftsmen. It’s not really necessary as you can buy a lifetime one for the sake of two hours pay time in our western culture.

It’s been six months in trial since I tested the Spear and Jackson ripcut and crosscut saws. You might recall that I compared it to an American-made saw of comparable size and placed the two makers side by side to determine which ones I would end up reaching for in the day to day of my working. It was only a matter of days before the two S&Js remained on top in the stack and now, surprisingly, these two, the S&J rip- and cross-cut saws are indeed the ones I reach for without fail. So just what is it that make these the ones I prefer? Initially I used the saws with the clear-coat of varnish still on and they seemed to ever so slightly in the cut; I mean just a little though. This caused a little judder when I pulled the saw back, but then I removed the surface coating with denatured alcohol (Methylated spirits) and that made all the difference, eliminating the vibration. The solvent did remove the name on the plate too. As push stroke saws work mainly on the thrust stroke they need a plate thickness that resists some flexing but not all. Making it from overly thick plate for stiffening can make the saw imbalanced, making the saw will feel clunky and awkward and, of course, the kerf being slightly wider means more effort to push the saw through the wood. But even this is preferable to a thin plate that has insufficient tensioning or spring to return resistance as you thrust. Buckling is more irritating than an an overly thick saw plate and of course both have the same problem of resistance. The S&J saws did get it right and may well have drawn on their 200 hundred year history in saw making to produce this product. They can still be had for around £22-24. They produce what they call a universal cut but it’s a crosscut no matter how you slice it. As a crosscut the saw crosscuts beautifully straight from the protective sleeve and I liked that. I suggest you buy two of the saws and reshape the second one for a ripcut. Not hard at all and our video on comparison saws and sharpening for change here shows you how. I have also produced two other videos on sharpening both the rip- and crosscut saws on YouTube so everyone can establish their sharpening skills to maintain the saws for the rest of their lives. The links are given below and this alone will save you hundreds ££££/$$$$ in throwaways as well as saving waste in landfills, and of course reuse for decades is better than recycling hands down.

I think S&J have hit the spot with this saw as far as practicalities goes. If they would rework the handles even just a little they would answer all criteria. That said, the handles are not in the least uncomfortable and for two hours work you can refine the handle yourself, after all, you are a woodworker.

Here’s the how-to crosscut link and here’s the ripsaw how-to link.




28 thoughts on “Stocking stuffer #2 – S&J Sharpenable Handsaws Work Great”

  1. I will continue to buy disposable saws in bulk whenever there is a sale on. they are ideal on site where they may have to deal with knots, nails, chipboard,plywood and melamine. If one gets damaged I get another one out of the van and keep the damaged one for rough work(even cutting blocks on occasion) I would only recomment the Irwin Jack saws though.
    That said, I have just retrieved my fathers’ S&J crosscut saws,with the intention of fettling them up for use in my home workshop,for my own pleasure, I think I’ll have to make a new handle for the one that’s my age .
    I am old enough to have worked with many older chippys and have witnessed too many tantrums when a newly sharpened saw clipped something it shouldn’t have, to believe that resharpenable saws are the best choice for site work. Remember steel toothed Skilsaw bades ?

  2. I enjoyed your original post about these saws some months ago and in my quest to collect some decent hand tools for my very modest shop I went online only to find that they are not available in the US. Since spending $150 on a saw is not possible for me I have tried to make due with some old “no name” saws but can’t get them to perform very well with my limited abilities in regards to sharpening and setting. The blades on all, save one, are cupped or bent and won’t cut straight. Do You know of a saw available here in the US that might work for me on a tight budget? Best Regards and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    1. I bought the Ace Hardware 12T CC saw to see how it compares to my Atkins and Groves . It has the aggressive tooth pattern but can be filed. It cuts very well for $26 actually. The plate is thinner at .037 than my Atkins and much thinner than the R. Grove & sons.

    2. @Brad – You might want to try Amazon UK. I purchased a couple of these saws. Total cost for both saws including shipping to California was $67.61. Took just under a week to get here.

  3. I wish to make a New handle for my S&I saws, 22″ and 24″ long. i used 24″ to build my workbench and it has worked well. Now i’d like a more confortable handle. Could i Replace those Brass Rivets?

    1. Hi Carlo,
      Thomas Flinn & Co. in the UK is a good source for saw screws…
      Great for a completely new handle, but it should be noted that the head diameters of both their brass and steel screws is slightly smaller than that of screws used on most vintage saws that I have come across – so they don’t match the originals if you’re worried about that sort of thing.
      Enjoy the build!

  4. It IS difficult to get some of this stuff in the US. Finding a dealer can be horrible. Used to be there weren’t any at all. I have found in the US if I shop at rather than I can find the 22″ 10pt panel saw, and probably others, at a decent price, whereas shopping at, not so much. For example 90% of the time the panel saw is unavailable at or available for $100 or more when a third party has usually 1-2 in stock, which is very rare, maybe once a year I see it (I set up notifications for it). However I poked around today and found if I go to, find it, and pick international shipping, I get a reasonable price, although you do have to pay shipping whether you are an Amazon Prime member or not. However even with shipping this saw is $40 which, if it really is as decent as Paul states (I believe so), is a steal. So if you are in the US check that out.

    1. Can confirm, it’s possible to buy from in USA, currently the exchange rate and shipping costs are reasonable, taking into account there are no comparable saws on Amazon’s U.S. site. For USA residents there are “Great Neck” saws that can be resharpened, their quality is kind of ok, but they’re 26″, so not exactly same class.

    2. European Woodworker in the USA used to stock these and dropped them for some reason I’m sure they are sorry now.

    3. FYI. I ordered this saw from Amazon UK last Friday. I’m in the US (Philadelphia) and it arrived today (the following Friday). $40 including shipping for a saw that will also a lifetime is a good deal.

    1. I have purchased these saws from a while back and it was a great experience. I’m in canada so have the same problem finding good quality without breaking the bank. It’s a little sad you have to shop over seas to save money. still… I love this saw. 🙂

    2. Yes I bought my saws from Amazon UK. No problems, they got to Alabama just as quick as Amazon US. Though I don’t know how shipping would be this time of year. I would wait until after Christmas on over into late January. To avoid the shipping to and shipping back period.

  5. Just wondering: looking at that very coarse grinding of the plate, I’ll bet that it is not taper ground, either. True? L

  6. I really love your honest reviews of tools.
    I reckon that nearly all of us out here are quite happy to pay good money for good tools, we simply hate feeling ripped-off paying unjustified high prices and the false economy of buying poor quality cheap items that have to be replaced

    Is there any chance of you giving the same treatment to combination squares in the near future?

  7. Hi Paul,

    I followed your recommendation and now I own one of these. No regrets and I support your observations indeed!

    Now I’m considering to reshape the saw-handle as I don’t like the current form, especially to my index finger when I point it forward along the handle. The size of my hands would also benefit from some more room.

    For the purpose of re-shaping, I would prefer to remove the handle, but the handles of these S & J saws are fit with rivets and I’m considering to drill them out. Befor such an action, I’d like to ask your feedback as to if you might see a different, less destructive way to remove the handles?

    Thanks for your never ending updates, always very much appreciated!

  8. They are available in Australia, via Bunnings special orders. I found the handle to be to uncomftable. Thus I found a old S&J handle, that could be fitted by drilling new holes and was fourtunate to find the appropriate screws from a local hand tool preservation society tool sale.
    The question I have been waiting for some–one else to ask. With a cross cut configuration, do you apply a back bevel on the teeth as Paul has taught with sharpening a rip saw. Ta Peter

  9. Hi Paul,

    I confirm that these saws are a good choice. I always complain about the difficulties to find good hand tools in France, but for a few months now we finally get more choice on I finally found the Stanley knife you use too …
    So I’ve bought one of these saws and it works great, right out of the box. I’ve sharpened it twice, when it just begins to become dull, it takes 10 to 15 minutes that’ all.
    Well may be the handle could be more comfortable, but the price is low and it’s very good value for the money.

  10. Harlow Chandler

    Do you have an evaluation of the current Spear & Jackson 9550B brass-backed tenon saw? I did a search of your posts and found only references to older saws; if I missed a mention of the current model I apologize.

    1. Yes, we have tested these out too and though they may well need a touch up with the file and set removing too, both jobs take only five minutes to do and you have a good saw.

    2. Yes, we have tested these out too and though they may well need a touch up with the file and set removing too, both jobs take only five minutes to do and you have a good saw.

  11. I was going to ask about the varnish coating on modern saws and seem to remember the stuff would not dissolve with anything I used . I will try with meths again but if it`s lacquer I have recently learned that brake cleaner fluid will dissolve lacquer. The stuff recently seemed so tough the blade had gone blunt well before the coating had worn off and all the time it made the saw stick in the cut . In case it has not been mentioned I use candle grease to make the saw slide through the cut and meths to dissolve wood resin .
    I bought a nice traditional saw on e bay which had no name printed on it but it just looked so elegant and in fact it is my favourite since I followed your sharpening recipe .

    1. I was surprised that methylated spirit worked so well but it took the varnish of in seconds and so to the black brand, which was just fine with me.

  12. I sent an inquiry to S&J via their website, asking if they had plans to offer this saw on US Amazon. They responded they will be looking at putting this on Amazon US the second half of 2017.

Comments are closed.

Privacy Notice

You must enter certain information to submit the form on this page. We take the handling of personal information seriously and appreciate your trust in us. Our Privacy Policy sets out important information about us and how we use and protect your personal data and it also explains your legal rights in respect of it. Please click here to read it before you provide any information on this form.