Well I had a specific mission when i went off to the Lie Nielsen hand tool event yesterday. I am in the market for what i call a "Tennon Saw". Most of you will have a variety of different names for these saws but that is what i was taught and what i am sticking to for now.
I wanted a decent saw to have a go at hand cut dovetails and after trying out the offerings at Lee Valley a week ago i decided to wait till i tried out the Lie Nielsen ones given the two events were only a week apart.
Unfortunately for me, the offerings at Lee Valley did not include the entire Pax range or the Wenzloff saws so determined to only buy what i can put my hands on and test it was down to either the Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen choices on offer.
I tried out the whole bunch
And whilst i committed an act of heresy in a prior thread on shoulder planes i will admit to being a traditionalist in the case of a saw.
The moment i picked up any of these saws what i felt is the immediate solid heft of the brass stiffener across the top of the blade and the incredible comfort of the handle.
Forget for a moment the beauty of how all this marries together since the beauty part does not cut wood.
Note my only terms of reference here for comparison is my experience with what i have at home....not worth mentioning, and my experiences with the Lee Valley range the week prior.
In both cases this is what i did.
I took the hardest wood i could find on offer and clamped it in the bench vise.
Then took each rip saw i could find and cut down vertically to experience the cut.
Then i took a crosscut saw and chopped off my cuttings and took them to the best light i could find and examined the surfaces of the sides of the cut wood.
Sorry i did not get a picture of these (wish i had now because the differences were noticeable)
I tried each saw in turn and did quiet a few cuts concentrating on all sorts of things.
Its in my view trully the way these tools should be sold and bought. I know its not possible to do over the web and after a recent private discussion via email with Robin Lee its even risky business for the store owners to undertake given the desire on the part of certain elements of the public to seek to blame all and sundry but themselves when they cut themselves.
So my findings were as follows
The solid thick brass rib that Lie Nielsen uses on their saw makes all the difference. You can take each saw and rest it on the endgrain and just pull back and with no force draw a cut line.
Next the as much as i am a huge believer and fan of innovation, i am sorry but the plastic rib on the Lee Valley units did not have the same effect.
Then one looks at the way in which the handle is attached to the blade and once again traddition in my view is hard to fight. The two pin through hole attachment in the tradditional saw manufacturer method is by far the way to go to transfer the action from the blade through to your hand. It produced a nice solid one piece feel to my hand from the blade action.
Lee Valley handles are attached similar to the tote on a plane with a screw down the handle. In two cases i had to tighten that screw while at the hand tool event. Its not as secure as the pins.
But the biggest thing for me that sealed the deal besides the cutting action was the blade length or my perception of blade length. I have yet to check on exact measurements but quiet frankly it dont really matter because it is probably more of the combination of handle extension and blade length.
I found with my natural stroke of my arm and given my height and arm length that i was continuously pulling the Lee Valley blade back out of the work piece i was cutting. It would then drop down as i pulled back. It started bothering me to the point that it put me off the saws.
This was the first thing i checked for with the small dovetail saws on offer at the Lie Nielsen tool event and it did not happen and i did not change my method of sawing.
I wish i had the budget available to buy more given the deal on offer yesterday but i have spent way over budget on tools just recently so i had to restrain myself.
I settled on this one for now in the thin plate version. It was a absolute delight to use and with free shipping and no brokerage was well worth the deal.
Now to be fair to Lee Valley I do think they had market price in mind when they set about bringing out their range with the plastic molded spine since i paid for one saw what i could pick up two for at Lee Valley and still have change left over.
But to me i dont want to own multiples of saws and show them off i just want one that i can get familiar with and use as frequently as possible.
I dare say the pull of tools will have me buying more than one set of saws over time but to get started and keep going i wanted something that i felt would work well and i am convinced there will be no buyers remorse when it comes to this little baby.