Home » Paul Sellers’ Blog » Suggested Saw Makers

Suggested Saw Makers

One or two of you have suggested I consider looking at some different makers of the age, those who are investing time and effort to develop new handsaws. Thank you for your input. Well, I do like what you suggested and the saws do look nice and well made so, great, maybe something is yet to come. I am sure they will make some good income looking at the prices. As yet the saws I have looked over are replications though, replications of what’s already existed since the late 1700s and therefor the result of what was actually already fully orbed and developed rather than ‘new‘ and innovative. Nothing as yet taking place that goes beyond tooling up for a basic engineering line of production. Also, as yet their ‘new’ handsaws seem to be untrialed and I think, in my view at least, need to be proven through more longer-term daily use in the hands of skilled users.

High Cost Saws

The handsaws people mentioned seem to start at around £220 and go on up to around£450. Taking a poll from my students revealed that none of them could afford or would afford even the lowest price. In reality most people could never justify spending so much on saws costing so much even if they are beautiful to look at. I suppose my audience is looking for the ability to take any saw and restore it to full functionality with a saw file and a sawset. That is what I did with the panel saw I bought. The teeth were pretty bad but inside just a few minutes I had it cutting with the very best of saws and of course good, old handsaws are constantly coming around via secondhand markets and they can be very pretty. A handsaw like the one above should cost between £25-60 via eBay and it’s a lifetime saw, but you can also opt to buy a very decent resharpenable Spear and Jackson as blogged on and compared to in the past. I get excellent results from mine.

Pricing Your Stuff

I am never to sure how makers set pricing for their products. Obviously the steel plate for a saw is not that high and neither is the wood. Setting high prices doesn’t necessarily tell you how good a product is so at some point it becomes a decision between selling more at a lower price or selling less at a higher price. That’s obviously up to the maker but then it’s up to the buyer too. On the other hand I do like the idea that buying secondhand via eBay has a sort of built in self-regulating dynamic when it comes to pricing and even that affects how much people charge for shipping and handling costs to make that fairer too.

 

39 comments

  1. Phil says:

    My view on these matters is who better to develop, test and manufacture a product than the people who have the practical day to day exsperiance of using it! There was a time when craftsmen made their own tools or at least use raw materials to.

    I’d like to see a saw designed and made by Paul Sellers! Now I believe that would be a great investment that would also leave money in the bank!

    • Phil says:

      All

      My thoughts on Paul making his own saws was not one of a commercial venture. But however to do this to provide a good quality, well tested saw at an honest price. Or even at cost to his students.

      i would not suggest that Paul should devalue all the hard work he has put into his presence as an honest and trusted source of knowledge and advice. And to put his name to another persons product would do this. Apologies if my first post was misinterpreted

  2. Anthony says:

    I have Paul’s latest book and noticed R. Groves on the brass back of a old disston tenon saw. I also remember him mentioning it in a video. I have yet to get one on eBay. I have some old disston’s and like them, not made by Groves but they work very well. I have some others as well like 2 made by veritas. Believe it or not, my favorite is a $15 dollar plastic handle Stanley. It sharpens quickly and well. I use it but have been using old brass backed ones more. I like the way they feel and they make me pretend that I’m back in time working in a 19th century British wood shop, sawing dovetails and tenons for a piece of furniture that was recently ordered.😌

    • Tom Angle says:

      “I like the way they feel and they make me pretend that I’m back in time working in a 19th century British wood shop, sawing dovetails and tenons for a piece of furniture that was recently ordered.”

      I think we all here are a little nostalgic and long for something simpler than life has to offer today.

  3. Richard says:

    Taking a poll from my students revealed that none of them could afford or would afford even the lowest price. In reality most people could never justify spending so much on saws costing so much even if they are beautiful to look at.

    – Hi Paul,

    One group of woodworkers prefers to have nice or fancy tools (boutique tools) for woodworking. We of course know the quality of tools has a relationship to the quality of work only to an extent, meaning those who have the high-end tools do not necessarily produce better work or have better skills. They can spend $150 on a a pair of dividers (1 unit!), $350 on a saw (Veritas’ which many schools now use is only $60 or so), etc.

    Some claim the new and expensive tools in their hands feel better and get better results. That’s nonsense in most cases (in some cases it is true, because they were using and hence comparing a poor quality tool with a tool 5 to 10 times more). The tool makers are targeting at people who can afford their products and as long as there are buyers, there are boutique tools.

    In a way, advertising (and promotions by these magazine reviewers) works its magic. sending people to the fancy tool shops.

    To those who can’t OR don’t want to spend the money as such, they can turn to the many”poor man’s” solutions you offer.

  4. Richard says:

    Regarding: I’d like to see a saw designed and made by Paul Sellers!

    – Some people (or their family) could sell wax or even stickers (!) because of their “celebrity” status. If Paul put his name on a product (whether designed or made by him or not), it would be a sold-out item quickly. It would sell out, even if it was just a T-shirt or mug…made in Britain (which is also a selling point).

    But Paul is unlikely to do so as that is solely a commercial activity, while Paul’s legacy mission has been to promote the knowledge and skills of traditional woodworking. If Paul wanted to make more money. all he had to do was to endorse some commercial products in return for a fee (we see many ads like that with a better-known person’s portrait as part of the ads).

      • Joystick says:

        There’s a world of difference between giving input into designing a tool (e.g. a saw) plus specifying the materials used to make it and just merrily endorsing a tool (for a fee) without influencing its design, materials and quality of manufacture.
        Paul’s independence from any commercial endorsements does indeed make his recommendations on any particular tool worth listening to (so is his obvious skill in using said tool) but I suspect (I might be wrong of course) that Paul has probably had some approaches from some of the modern manufacturers seeking his opinion even at the design stage. If Paul is rewarded for his consultation services then I for one would not begrudge that. His real input in influencing the design and materials used would be all the endorsement I would need!

    • Chris says:

      “– Some people (or their family) could sell wax or even stickers (!) because of their “celebrity” status.”

      If this is a reference to whom I believe it is…….. then I encourage anyone with that opinion to read any one of the books “some people” have published to gain an understanding of why this perception is false. One’s motivation to spend massive amounts of their time & energy researching, compiling, and publishing quality woodworking information (much of which has been forgotten or lost to time) would not be in the hopes of becoming a “celebrity”. That perception probably occurred secondarily as a result of their hard and honest work being recognized and appreciated – sometimes over-zealously. I would view it as preserving historical information & practices that will encourage more people to join the hobby, but in a different and still important way. If this certain person starts appearing in infomercials, then my views would definitely change.

      BTW: Just a coincidence I have the same first name, Honestly.

  5. HKimsey says:

    Paul, I have noticed in my saw sharpening that the expensive reproduction backsaws have very thin plates, often thinner than .02″. I have one such dovetail saw and it’s a real beauty to use. The only thing I don’t like is the resulting kerf is so thin that chopping/sawing out the waste is a bit of a problem.

  6. Russell Lowe says:

    I would echo what first the first reply mentioned,just imagine a saw sold by Paul sellers,it would absolutely fly of the shelves as have the Stanley marking knives,bacho saw files and coping saws,even the green compound.
    It’s quite amazing how Paul’s word can and has influenced the popularity of what on the surface look like cheap tools.
    Now just imagine a Paul sellers chisel saw and hammer range,I personally think they would so successful as we all trust Paul’s ethics and knowledge.
    I mean you have rob cosman selling a successful saw line and he uses cheap composite handle,and that’s his ethic,so just imagine how successful a Paul sellers line of tools would be with his no compromise life ethic of standards

  7. Michael Ballinger says:

    I think there is an uncompromising authenticity to Paul that makes his endorsement
    of tools what it is. While it would make financial sense for a product line of Paul Sellers tools I think the balance of reviewing alternatives could become questionable over time. Not saying that Paul would drop to a level of blindingly endorsing his own tool range but I like that he buys the tools he reviews like anyone else. It says a lot about him and makes his reviews simply about the tool in question.

    • Ian Newsham says:

      Perfectly put, Michael.

      Paul has a combination of knowledge, skill, experience coupled with integrity and an ethos of preservation through passing his treasures on to future generations. There is no doubt that he has the credentials to “shift product”, as proved by the leap in asking-prices on eBay for his recommendations.

      However, the fact that Paul has no commercial interest in the particular tools he favours adds considerable gravitas to his appraisals. I fear that a “Paul Sellers” line may muddy those waters somewhat.

  8. John Mahoney says:

    I love ‘old saws’ as I have several I found on eBay, swap meets, ect. Sometimes my purchase was due to the name on it. I have some that I would like to change from a rip set to a crosscut set and vice versa.

    Paul, have you or will you produce a video that you can teach an old dog like me how to go about this?

    I’m 70 now and been at it for over 55 years. I still learn from you.

    • Joystick says:

      John,
      Paul has indeed talked about and filmed converting a modern S&J cross cut hand saw to a rip cut. Do a search on his website and you’ll sure to find it. Having not tried it myself, I have to presume that to change from rip cut to cross (fleam) cut would be just as easy (well Paul makes it look easy).

  9. Rob says:

    Hi Paul, I just wanted a little more insight into buying second hand saws. I have some s&j based on the clunky unloved handles and the riveting as a pose to splitnuts I would say they are later models. However they do sharpen up and cut reasonabley well. The best saw I have was my grandfathers d8 circa post war pre 50s. With regard to the later models what’s wrong with them is the steel worse or it just that they are less pretty. Thanks as always

  10. Joe says:

    Out of curiosity,is it possible to replace the handle on the Spear and Jackson saw or modify it so it looks (and hopefully feels a bit nicer)?

    I would love to see Paul do a video on this similar in my mind as to what he did for the inexpensive chisel handles.

      • Joe says:

        Watching Pauls video got me thinking. They are probably making these handles either by CNC or duplicating jig. There is absolutely no reason they couldn’t make the handle slightly nicer like Paul did. It can’t possibly add that much more time or cost to the handle. It may even make their saws stand out in the ugly mass market of saws out there.

        Oh, a complete aside. Recently I visited two museums on the east coast of the United States. Duplicating machines were invented in the 1820s (Springfield Armory) and in wide use by the 1860s (Precision Museum in Vermont) for making rifle stocks. The 3 axis milling machines also started in the 1860s. I didn’t realize that technology had stared soon. It was very fascinating. If I am off on my dates it is only by a decade.

        • Michael Ballinger says:

          Yeah they’re CNC’d I believe. Having designed for CNC myself (I was making Christmas decorations) it get’s a little tricky when you get into sculpting a built up 3D shape as opposed to just running the standard profile router bits (V, straight, round over, moulding profiles and whatnot). The production time for each piece goes up hugely.

          I started with CNC because I didn’t know any better at the time. But I guess combined with a bit of hand finishing they could be produced quick enough. But then again it’ll never quite feel like how you could fit the handle to your own hand yourself.

  11. Salko Safic says:

    I personally like the 18th century saws, the handles are really comfortable and I have better grip and control with no blisters. I have another saw I bought in the 80’s but the handle even though beautifully carved is uncomfortable and therefore rarely used. I feel that handle on the Spear and Jackson would give me blissters and tire me out quickly.

    • Paul Sellers says:

      Naaah! Perhaps a little toughening up of the hands is all that’s needed. Fraid that seems too negative, Salko. Not everyone has access to 18th century saws and I use the S&J all the time now and they are really fine to use though not finely made. Sorry, but no need to to diss a good and very inexpensive saw. The majority cannot afford to spend too much on a saw.

      • Salko Safic says:

        No not negative at all. I wasn’t dismissing the saw just the handle it’s a personal preference I think. I could afford these saws at the time so I bought them and love em too bits. Nothing wrong with that, wouldn’t you agree? But if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t be able to afford them now, well not immediately. I know they’re not cheap and it’s not within some people’s reach or maybe most cannot justify spending that sort of money on them. Whatever their reasons are I’m sure they’re valid ones or atleast justified in their own minds. Maybe they could consider building their own saws from scratch. It’s a challenge I wouldn’t mind doing myself one of these days.

        • Salko Safic says:

          BTW I’m currently building myself moulding planes, reproduction 18th century style. I cannot afford to pay $5000 at the current conversion rate nor even $2000. Having said that, even though the material costs are much lower, the time spent to build them is costing me the same. I think people need to take this into account before assuming that they’re being ripped off with lucrative pricing. You know how business works, there are lots of expenses that go along with it and all that needs to be met along with an hourly rate before one can even consider a profit. Even those saws on eBay were once built and sold for a hefty price. Tools were never cheap, not $250 years ago and certainly not today. It’s just a part ‘n’ parcel of the craft.

    • Joseph palas says:

      18th century is the 1700s. I have to doubt youre using saws from the 1700s, but I could be wrong. If you mean saws from the late 1800s, that makes a bit more sense.

      • Salko Safic says:

        I have several saws each serves its own purpose both originals and custom built to suit my hand with various tooth count and configuration, and yes I did intend to say 19th century but I got caught up with all the 18th century read that I miss wrote it.

  12. Mike Z. says:

    I think this reflects who the makers think they are or would like to be selling their saws to! A higher end market to me makes me think of the well heeled professionals with more income to spend on their hobby, as I cannot believe the people using everyday tools to make every day items could or even would, could they – spend that kind of money on saws. Yes, I do know at a certain point we get what we pay for but in this world of topsy turvy global making and pricing reality has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle. Recently, I have managed into 5 – 6 used hand saws, mostly older Disstons no less that do not compare to any thing I have seen new, no matter the price. Had they not been in need of help I would never have been able to afford them either!! I cannot help but think I am now set for the rest of my life. I like pretty things as much as the next person, but rather pretty things that work well better yet! I’d like to see the business plans as to who these expensive saws are really being made for, and I’ll keep scraping rust for now. Thanks as always to Mr. Paul Sellers and crew as I would be sawless without them, or still barely getting by with the toys from the home center. Keep up your good work, and greetings from the USA.

  13. Mike Z. says:

    I also forgot to add, Mr. Sellers is a smart enough and an old enough fellow to know that hopping into business with these tool companies is a fruitless effort. Let’s lighten up on him and let him put his efforts where they can best be used, keeping us all informed and with the ability to keep telling the unvarnished truth (so to speak, I couldn’t resist). That way his income and sanity are not diminished, and we will have him around a lot, lot longer. I am certain if he would have found a way 30 or 40 years ago to get these tool companies off their duffs he would have done just that. Rather like trying to herd cats as the old saying goes?! If he was working with those nutters he would never have time to keep giving us all the good things he does!!

  14. BobH says:

    Another excellent blog post! Thank you, Paul!

    I have hand saws bought new by my Dad in the 1920s and others that I’ve bought from old tool aficionados I’ve met on Internet forums. I am yet to buy a newly made saw for woodworking except a Japanese pull struck cutting saw that I sometimes use to flush-cut dowels and tenons. I have been tempted to purchase dovetail and gents saws from Bob Lee at Lee-Valley and might do so at some point because I trust the integrity of these vendors knowing that they sell quality products albeit at prices that are sometimes too rich for my blood.

    I’m still trying to learn how to properly refurbish and resharpen the old saws I have. I’ve watched Mr. Sellers videos and those done by other experts (Tom Law). I have a good saw vise, good files, and a good saw set but have yet to master the skill. I have difficulty figuring out what the problems are after I’ve completed my attempts and knowing what to do to fix them. I think this would be a good topic for a video, Paul (hint, hint) :).

  15. Mike Towndrow says:

    I think it’s worth remembering that all these super duper high quality old saws that we’re buying on eBay were once brand new. I’m guessing that back in the 19th century they too wouldn’t have been considered cheap to buy and would predominately have been bought by people using them to earn a living; e.g. I don’t suppose there were too many woodworking hobbyists around in those days making stuff just for fun!

    As a woodworking hobbyist myself, I couldn’t justify, or afford, to buy an expensive so called “boutique” saw, nor do I need to with what’s available to buy on eBay and from other sources of second hand tools. However, I think maybe we should applaud both the manufacturers and the buyers of todays good quality saws, how ever expensive. Because in a hundred years or so, being life time tools, these saws will presumably take their turn to appear on eBay when the current supply of antique saws has (maybe) dried up!

  16. Dave says:

    One of the reasons that I’m keen to buy new tools (instead of older ones on ebay) is not because I think they’re any better, but mostly because I want to support current tool makers that are doing a good job.

    If someone is producing great quality saws, then I’d rather support them (at a cost to myself) to encourage them and ensure that future generations have a reputable maker to go to (of course this doesn’t go for mass produced junk, I have no intention of supporting companies manufacturing rubbish and selling on their previous reputation).

    Part of me worries that if none of us give them any business, then in 20, 40, 60 years etc. the supply of old Stanleys/Disstons/etc. will have dried up completely, and there’ll be no-one about making anything that isn’t cheap/disposable.

    • Paul Sellers says:

      Sorry Dave, some makers do price themselves out of the general market by pricing high, you know, develop a niche market rather than producing more for less as in the case of say Veritas.We know of course makers are free to charge whatever they like and that is fine too and so they do. Whether they warrant support because of what you say remains the question. Personally, I have sold rocking chairs and other pieces for $6,000-10,000 but the designs were indeed mine and started absolutely from scratch and not mere copies which is what the saws I have seen so far are. Nothing particularly special or at all unique, so people paid for the designs knowing that they were indeed unique designs.
      With regards to old tools running out; it won’t happen. We will never see the saws used in the same quantities they were and they just keep cycling through. I think you will see them go on for the next 150-200 years until they actually wear out. Time may prove me wrong.

  17. Gaëtan says:

    Hi Paul,

    I would love to start sharpening my saws, but it is always awkward to hold the saw properly when you don’t have a saw vise. Considering how expensive the old cast-iron ones go for on ebay it’s not really a good solution. I would really love if you could make a video explaining how to built one made of wood. I’ve seen a couple of designs already but it would really be nice to have you show how to make one. A poor man’s version would be even more welcome !

    Thanks

    • Paul Sellers says:

      I assume you have a woodworking vise? I often clamp two sticks of wood either side of the tooth line and off you go. Alternatively rip a kerf along the centre of a 25mm x 25mm (1″ x 1″) piece of wood long enough for your longest saw and stop 2″ from one end. That way, when you insert the saw, the two supports either side of the plate are aligned when you insert the saw and lock it by then clamping it in the vise.

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