These are the saws lining the shelves in Japanese hardware stores. They’re simple and versatile, and unlike western saws, a Japanese hand saw cuts on the pull instead of the push — a key difference that lets you make clean, controlled cuts quickly, using less brute force.
This is often called a Ryoba saw, a Japanese word that refers to the two edges on the blade. The smaller, tripled teeth on one side are for cross cutting across the grain, and the larger, triangular teeth on the other side are for rip cutting along the grain. Most saws are built for either rip cuts or cross cuts, but with its double edge, this little saw can produce precise cuts whether you’re sawing against or along the grain.
This is an indispensable tool for woodworkers, and a useful all-purpose saw for everyone else to have around the house to level wobbly chair legs or for all manner of woodworking projects.
This saw alone could be used to cut the joinery needed to build a temple or home, many of Japan's oldest structures were built from recently felled timber using saws of this ilk. It's also perfectly adequate for cutting 2x4s, planks of wood, or small rogue tree branches. The blades are extremely hard and will last for a long time. Because of it's impulse-hardened teeth, this saw can't be sharpened with a file, but when the blade starts to dull, you can replace the blade and keep the same handle.
Keep the saw someplace dry to prevent it from rusting. If storing in a metal tool box, or with other metal tools, use a leather or cloth cover to protect teeth from chipping. Protecting the blade and occasionally applying oil to the blade will keep it looking like new.
The teeth are made via a process called impulse hardening, which extends the life of a saw by around three times (with normal use). The edge is rapidly heated and cooled at precise intervals of less than a thousandth of a second. A high-frequency current is applied to the teeth, making them incredibly hard without affecting the elasticity of the blade, this keeps the teeth from chipping as easily. Designed primarily for precision cutting, the kerf (width of cut) is very fine.
Just as clever is the blade/handle interface, which is designed so the blade stays in place even if the screw is missing. It works using a cruciform shape, which cuts into the blade, locking it securely to the handle.
Sharp, all-purpose saw. One edge is toothed for cross cutting against the grain, and the other for rip cutting along the grain. Cuts clean on the pull for less effort. Made in Japan.
All-purpose woodworking or household saw
Cross cuts against the grain (triple-toothed edge)
Rip cuts along the grain (larger-toothed edge)
26” (660 mm) overall length
9.4” (240 mm) cutting edge
Hardened steel blade, wooden handle wrapped in rattan
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