The Hungry Saw


I owe a couple of blog posts at present, mainly a second post on finishing carving the parlour guitar heel, and also on building the frame and panel lid for the Anarchist’s Tool Chest. Both of those posts will follow shortly (it has been a very busy couple of weeks, which is why I’m behind in my writing). In the meantime however, my 16″ tenon saw arrived from Bad Axe Tool Works this week, and having had an opportunity to give it a workout on the tool chest lid, I thought I should offer up a short review.

I’ve been a huge fan of Mark Harrell’s saws since my carcass and dovetail saws arrived in April. In fact, the 12″ carcass saw Mark built for me is my joint favourite tool (along with my No. 5 Clifton bench plane), and the dovetail saw is no slouch either. And although I had no doubts that the 16″ tenon saw would be finished to Mark’s usual impeccable standards, I was interested to see how it would compare to the other saws he’s built me.

Straight out the box the 16″ tenon saw is a beautiful, and impressive, tool. The walnut tote fits my hand perfectly, and the consistency of totes across all three saws is staggering. The saw plate is dead nuts straight, and polished to a mirror shine which means that you can check how straight your cut is simply by checking the reflection of the work as you cut.

And cutting. This saw is aggressive yet precise. When cutting the tenons for the tool chest lid, the saw slid through 3″ southern yellow pine like the timber simply wasn’t there. No effort, maximum return. Using a bigger saw obviously requires some ergonomic changes, as a longer saw plate requires bigger arm motions. Once I had adjusted my posture to allow for longer strokes, the saw tracked the line like it was on rails and stopping bang on the baseline. I had Mark file the saw with his custom “hybrid” filing and this meant that I could cut not only the cheeks of the tenons but also the shoulders, and the saw behaves exactly like a dedicated rip cut and a dedicated cross cut saw would. Absolutely perfect.

This is a saw that I can see getting a lot of use in my shop, on all jobs where the 12″ carcass saw is just too dainty – from cutting scarf joints on guitar necks, tenons, and a variety of other uses. The 16″ tenon saw is, frankly, a winner.

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