Japanese saw has a broad fan base in the woodcutting world because of its sleek structure and precise performance. However, for a first-timer, the toy-looking tool may be tricky to use. To avoid any confusion, let’s know about the Japanese saw, its types, benefits, usage, and if you need one.
What is a Japanese Saw?
Also known as Nokogiri, a Japanese saw is widely used in the woodcutting industry and Japanese carpentry. This saw uses the pull stroke to cut, whereas the European saws use the push stroke. It is highly efficient as its thin blades create leaves with smaller kerfs, less sawdust, and require little muscle power.
How Many Types of Japanese Saw are there?
Let’s get introduced to different types of Japanese Saw:
The Ryoba: The Royba is perfect for cutting into deep woods. The blade has two edges; crosscut and rip cut. As a beginner in hand-sawing in pull-strokes, this one is the best Japanese saw to start with.
The Dozuki: Its thin blade is made for precision and fine cuts. It creates small kerfs and less sawdust. The thick steel spine makes the blade rigid and keeps it from bending.
The Kataba: The Kataba is perfect for faster cuts, with its Ikeda-me teeth. It makes a continuous pattern of seven crosscut teeth.
The Kugihiki: This flush-cut saw cuts wedges and tenons of the pieces. In most of the models, it has no set and, in some, one-sided. This doesn’t scratch your board at all.
The Mawashibiki: This keyhole saw’s blade starts with a broader space and then narrows down to the tip. To get a clean, sharp, and straight cut, this blade can be the one.
The Azebiki: This one is a plunge cutter. You can make crosscuts and rips in the center of the wood using this saw. Moving the handle upwards and downward can make the desired cut.
Why do People Use Japanese Saw?
As we have seen earlier, different types of Japanese saw have different types of purpose; let’s have a glance into the usage of Japanese saws:
For cutting across and making rip cuts: This feature of the Ryoba saw makes the Japanese saws unique. This kind has two types of teeth; bigger and smaller ones. The tiny teeth cut across the wood grains, while the bigger teeth cut along.
To maintain depth control: As someone struggling to have firm control over the depth while cutting, Japanese saw can be a great option. With the dovetail saw, you will get an adjustable stop that works to limit the blade’s depth while cutting. As apparent from the name, this can be a savior in terms of making dovetails and dadoes.
To get a precise cut for tenons and dovetails: If you love to make tenons and dovetails, Dozuki saw has to be your favorite. This type has the blade fixed and rigid and prevents bending, which is vital to get that clean and sharp outcome.
To make a groove cut: If you are looking for something to cut in the middle of the board to make dadoes and grooves, the azebiki can be the right one. You can make grooves for drawers or can cut a long groove into panels with this Japanese saw. Another plus point is that this saw cuts in one specific point at the moment, which leaves you with lesser sawdust to clean with and avoids clogging.
Make gentle curves even in thin woods: With the extra-lightweight curve cutter from Hishiki, you don’t have to worry about curving in more delicate materials now. It only weighs 3 ounces and offers you the maximum flexibility so that you get your desired cuts and curves regardless of the thickness of the board.
Makes your job faster: To level-up your productivity, we have the kataba saw. This Japanese saw has a pattern of seven crosscut teeth to speed-up your woodcutting and brings you one step closer to perfection. As if that’s not enough, it got a tooth that clears the sawdust to make your job more comfortable, and you save those extra minutes that you might have to spend to clean the mess.
To trim the wood dowels: With another kind, Kughiki saw, also known as flush-cutter, cutting the wood dowels have been made easier. You can also use it to plunge the flushes. Another feature that makes it unique? It does its job fine without even scratching your work-surface, which ultimately keeps the brand-new look hold longer.
What are the Benefits of Using a Japanese Saw?
Now that we are introduced with the usages of Japanese saw, let’s see the benefits it offers:
Get precision: The sleek blade of Japanese saws gives you the ultimate precision and neat cut. The blade is 75 % slimmer than a Western one and makes you feel like holding a sword. Once you get used to that buttery cuts to the woods, it may become an addiction and forget your hacksaw.
Energy-saving and less messy: With a Japanese saw, the blade glides into the woods like butter; hence, you do not need to use all your energy doing your job. As it requires little muscle power, you can make use of your time a lot better. Moreover, this saw creates significantly less wood-dust, so you will not have to spend your day cleaning the mess.
Narrow Kerf: Unlike the European saws, the Japanese blades are slightly bent on one side. This makes the kerfs comparatively thin kerf and helps to cut woods in no time with minimal effort.
Replaceable blades: With most Western saws, you may have to go through the hassle of repairing or sharpening the blades when damaged or blunt. However, with the Japanese saws, it is not the same. Its blades are replaceable, which means you can buy new blades and replace your old ones instead of doing all the extra work.
Multi-purpose: A Japanese saw can be used in multiple ways if needed. For example, a standard Dozuki saw can be used everywhere and will deliver a decent result. To add another feather to the crown, it can be paired up with a Ryoba saw. Apart from that, in the very basic Japanese saw, Ryoba, you will get both crosscut and rip cut, which indeed makes it a great deal.
Can be used in Timber Framing: Apart from carpentry works, Japanese saw has a good reputation for being used in timber framing as well. The thicker blade of the Kataba can make some great strokes in deep woods. And to reach the narrowest part of it, the Mawashibiki is known to be one of the best keyhole saws.
More flexibility than usual: The Japanese saws offer more flexibility in cutting positions than the Western ones. If you are to cut trim along the floor like dowels and plugs, saws like Kugihiki can be your go-to option. If you need to bung onto flat surfaces, the Japanese saws can be a great help too.
Get a better grip: If you look at the models of the Japanese saws, you’ll see that most of them have a longer handle than the usual saws. In doing heavy woodworks, sometimes it is mandatory to have a firm grip over the saw. Losing control over the saw can be fatal. To avoid the possible accidents, the Japanese saws come with a longer handle for you to hold on to. This helps to have strong control over the saw while you do your job.
Easy on the pocket: Looking at all the advantages a Japanese saw offers, it seems to be on the expensive side, right? However, this is not the truth. Compared to the Western saws, most of the Japanese ones are budget-friendly. However, this doesn’t mean they come with a low quality. Japanese saws go a long way if taken care of properly. Even though the blades can not be sharpened or repaired, changing into a new one doesn’t cost much.
When Should You Get a Japanese Saw?
To ensure that your every penny is spent right on a Japanese saw, it must consider that when and if you should get one. As someone who wants to have the sword-like experience in a saw, getting a Japanese saw may be the right choice. The sharp and neat cuts will bring you one step closer to perfection.
However, if you like to recycle rather than replace, the replaced blades of Japanese saw may not be your favorite. If used in western saws, the long handle may feel weird at first, but you’ll get used to it with time. If you can neglect the minor cons and want to take your woodwork to a whole new level, getting a Japanese saw may be the right thing to do.
Like every other tool, the Japanese saw has both sides of the coin as well. However, considering all the ways it can benefit you, the pros seem heavier. You can check out some Japanese saw that fits your needs and budget in the market and start a new chapter in your woodwork.