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Best hand saw for cutting through thick hardwood?

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  • #554169
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    I am trying to re-dimension Wenge hardwood, 2″ thick and almost a meter long. I have used the Pax panel saw (http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=46886&cat=1,42884,63338), the 10tpi one, not the rip as I was afraid it would cut too roughly, and the folding kataba (http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=69152&cat=1,42884,42898&ap=1). the Kataba cuts very cleanly, and cuts almost exactly as fast as the Pax. What saw is best for this very hard wood at this thickness? It takes me (amateur) about 45 minutes to make one 750mm rip cut.

    PS: I take 1 minute per 1 inch with the Japanese saw. The Pax is similar but I find it hard to saw straight in such hard wood with it.

    • This topic was modified 10 months, 3 weeks ago by Waldo Nell.
    #554171
    ted clawton
    Participant

    Wow, you’re braver and more ambitious than I am (isn’t Wenge expensive?). I believe Paul would resaw on the bandsaw. I haven’t even attempted resawing yet for this reason. Hope someone can give you nice answers, I’ll be listening. Thanks.

    P.S. from what I’ve read, 10 tpi might be too fine, since people say that you need big gullets for resawing, because you’re pulling out so much waste. Best luck.

    #554172
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    If only i had a bandsaw. Besides, i made it my goal to use only non electric tools. Glutton for punishment i know.

    I have finished 3 of the 4 legs. But i still have severla other re-dimensioning to do so any advice would be appreciated. Since i will be cutting 25mm down to 5mm and 12mm and planing i need to be careful of the saw kerf.

    #554173
    Stijn Bossuyt
    Participant

    Hi Waldo, you indeed need a coarser saw, say 6 tpi or so. It usually takes me between 5 to 10 minutes to make that kind of rip cut. A saw bench (some kind of mini workbench) helps a lot too because you can apply downward force. Also, that panel saw has crosscut teeth, so isn’t suitable for these kind of rip cuts. I admire your perseverance, sawing 45 minutes on one cut.

    #554174
    Ecky H
    Participant

    Hello Waldo,

    I second Stijn’s suggestion of a coarser saw.
    Ripped all the boards of my workbench from rough sawn 2″ dense pine and tried out several saws. The best compromise (for me!) was an often sharpened 4.5 tpi rip saw with just enough set so that the saw doesn’t bind. The sawn surfaces weren’t that bad…

    Hope that helps,

    E.

    PS: My saw is a 26″ William Greaves 4.5 tpi: https://www.flinn-garlick-saws.co.uk/acatalog/William_Greaves_Handsaw.html

    Veni, vidi, serravi.

    Mรผnster, Germany

    #554176
    Edmund
    Participant

    There isn’t enough information to give you an answer.

    2″ thick, OK, 1 meter long, OK, but how wide? If it’s just a skinny stick 1″ wide, then there are big issues with your equipment and / or your technique. If it’s a meter wide, then you’re a great sawyer.

    Based on your making a 750 mm cut, I’ll assume you’re re-sawing, but you could be just ripping. Either way, however, the fact that you’re re-sawing or ripping, but using a cross-cut saw, tells me you’re going to make slow or very slow progress. Re-sawing with a cross-cut blade is always going to be difficult, sometimes extremely difficult, so you might actually be doing fine, depending on other factors. Ripping with a cross-cut blade is also going to be less efficient that when using a rip-filed saw. That’s why the kataba is performing as well as the Pax, even though it’s just a folding travel saw — it’s got a hybrid filing on the teeth which works for ripping and cross-cutting. Also, it’s probably got a thin plate, thus a thin kerf, which makes for less resistance.

    As you mentioned, wenge is a really hard wood. Doing anything with wenge is difficult. So right away, you need to lower your expectations of performance sawing. It might just be that simple, thus the question about the width.

    If it’s not a wide board, your technique might be suspect, or your equipment might need sharpening. Wenge is really good at dulling blades. Your links point to good saws, but even good saws get dull. Also, re-sawing, if that’s what you’re doing, can be challenging, even on a wood far more cooperative than wenge. Some people drive their teeth down hard into the wood, thinking that will improve their sawing, when it really does the opposite. So technique can be an issue. Combine these potential factors with the fact that you’re using the wrong equipment (a crosscut-filed blade for a rip or re-saw), and that spells struggles.

    Bottom line there is no “best” saw. For ripping and re-sawing, use a rip saw. For crosscutting, use a crosscut filed saw. Whichever saw you use, make sure it’s sharp. Use proper technique, and keep realistic expectations about your performance. If you’re re-sawing a board in the 8″+ width range, you really want to consider, as mentioned above, a rip saw with fewer tpi. Maybe 5 tpi or so, and if you’re up in the 20″+ width, then maybe 2-4 tpi…time for a big Roubo-style frame saw.

    #554177
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    Thanks for your detailed response, Edmund. However, I see no relevance in the width of the board. My saw is cutting through 50mm thick Wenge. If the bord is 1โ€ wide or 100โ€ wide I will still be cutting through 50mm thick Wenge. The saw is making contact with a 50mm cross section of wood and I am ripping to about 750mm length.

    I said I am an amateur so I am not saying I am doing anything right. Hence my request for guidance.

    I will try a 4tpi pax rip saw.

    #554199
    ted clawton
    Participant

    I think you’re confusing thickness and width. When resawing we reduce the thickness by cutting through the endgrain across the whole width of the board, that is, parallel to the faces of the board. It’s just semantics; we could also saw through the endgrain parallel to the edges to reduce the width. This is something I’ve done a lot, and is much easier than resawing to reduce thickness.

    #554200
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    Not confusing anything, just South African – we speak of things perhaps differently. In the end it is the same meaning.

    I guess it does not matter. In the end I am sawing along the grain (ripping) through 50mm of wood. Whether it is resawing or ripping, I am not crossing the fibers, I am resawing along the fibers. So that should be all that is needed to help pick the right saw.

    I decided to buy a band saw. I would need to re-saw several 24mm thick (or wide) stock into half, two 12mm thick (or wide) pieces for my aprons as my stock is 24mm thick (or wide). I am too old to do that by hand and besides, I doubt it is even possible doing it by hand if you are not a master. Even with a thin kerf band saw it will be challenging to get close to 12mm, so I am aiming for 11mm. Will see how it goes.

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by Waldo Nell.
    • This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by Waldo Nell.
    #554203
    ted clawton
    Participant

    No worries. I think the point that hasn’t been mentioned yet is this: the reason I’ve seen for smaller tpi being suggested for resawing, is that as the saw goes through the wood, it’s picking up waste, and in a resawing cut it’s picking up more waste quicker than in other types of cuts (I think this is one reason he asked about the width). And with higher tpi saws there isn’t enough room between the teeth to collect all the waste, so they get clogged up quickly. A wider spacing between the teeth allows for more waste to be extracted without clogging up as quickly. This will be the same issue with handsaws and bandsaws.

    #554204
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    I will be getting a 4 tpi pax rip saw too and will give it a try as i am curious to understand the mechanics better. Thanks for your help though.

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by Waldo Nell.
    #554207
    ted clawton
    Participant

    I have that saw, I love it.

    Actually — I’m not quick to convert from mm ๐Ÿ™‚ — I just realized 50mm is ~2 inches, so what I was saying above might not be all that relevant to you. You should be able to expel the waste okay if it’s only 50mm I’d think. Keeping it low in the vise is probably useful.

    I’ve wanted to resaw 13/16″ material, but haven’t found the guts yet. Please let us know how it goes, and best luck.

    #554209
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    Well i have completed 8 cuts of 2โ€ thickness now for my 4 legs, each about 850mm long (i am stupid, i did not cross cut it first). At 1 minute per inch, yeah… my hands are sore ๐Ÿ™‚

    Will post back.

    #554218
    Edmund
    Participant

    [quote quote=554177]Thanks for your detailed response, Edmund. However, I see no relevance in the width of the board. My saw is cutting through 50mm thick Wenge. If the bord is 1โ€ wide or 100โ€ wide I will still be cutting through 50mm thick Wenge. The saw is making contact with a 50mm cross section of wood and I am ripping to about 750mm length.

    I said I am an amateur so I am not saying I am doing anything right. Hence my request for guidance.

    I will try a 4tpi pax rip saw.[/quote]

    The width was relevant because you simply said you were “re-dimensioning” — you didn’t tell us if you were re-sawing or ripping or what. Therefore you could have been re-sawing, and therefore the width would have been extremely relevant to any discussion on your speed of sawing.

    I am also an amateur, and not saying I am giving good answers ๐Ÿ™‚

    So now it sounds as if you’re merely ripping. OK, that takes width out of the equation, and thickness is the only issue. However, 1 minute per inch is too slow — something is wrong — unless you’re just being very cautious about sawing to a line, which is absolutely fine (and perhaps wise for us amateurs). OK, you were using a crosscut saw, 10 tpi not ideal for 2 inch stock, wenge is a tough wood, those are definite factors, perhaps those explain it all, but I feel you should also double-check that your blade is sharp and your technique is solid.

    Let us know how it goes with the rip saw.

    1 other thing that might explain some of it — is there tension in the board? Sometimes when sawing, the board itself will clamp back down on the saw in the kerf. This can make the saw very difficult to move, and will certainly slow down your rate of progress. You can easily check — take the saw out of the kerf, and see if the kerf is tighter, or closes up, when the saw is removed.

    If so, after the entirety of the saw plate is down past the surface, use small shims to hold the kerf open (not wedges! You don’t want to split the board — only what it takes to match the kerf width, and no more) and also remember to touch up your plate with your rag in a can from time to time.

    #554219
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    Yes, I am merely ripping but since it is 50mm thick it feels like re-sawing ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1 minute per inch is with my fine toothed kataba. And yes, I do spend some time rotating the leg to cut on alternative sides to try and keep the cut straight.

    The cross cut Pax saw at 10 tpi measured similarly but I never ripped a whole leg with it as I found it hard to correct myself when going off my line, it was easier to do with the kataba (even though it was slow). As to the tension – there was very slight tension in the wood but I did compensate for it by plugging in a small wedge to keep it open.

    Oh the kataba and Pax saws are both brand new. Since I cannot sharpen the Japanese saw it is as sharp as it will ever be I guess, the Pas I only assumed would be sharp from the factory.

    I did use oil from time to time to make the cutting a bit easier.

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