I'm a beginner, I've recently taken up woodworking as a hobby.

I have a hardpoint tenon saw that I'm just not getting on with. It sticks a lot in the (primarily soft) wood I'm working with. I have a multipurpose hardpoint panel saw that works well, but I won't be using that for joinery.

So my plan is to buy a couple of backsaws: one rip-cut tenon saw, and one dovetail saw (either cross-cut or, if the teeth are fine, rip-cut is likely OK). Does this sound like a good plan? I like the look of Pax saws but their dovetail saws are 20tpi. I'm concerned that I wouldn't be able to hand-sharpen the teeth of a 20tpi saw.

Please criticise and improve my plan.

  • 1
    Dovetail saws are generally filed rip. Most of the cuts for the joint are rip or nearly rip orientation. Also, most are closer to 12-14 tpi. The reason some dovetail saws are cut finer is to deal with thinner woods. If you'll be doing cuts primarily in 1/2" or thinner, you'll want the 12 tpi, otherwise itll just slow you down. Anyway, depending on how tall the plate is, your dovetail saw may be totally suitable for smaller tenons too. I'd advise you to get a taller, lower tpi dovetail (like veritas, for example), and a crosscut carcass saw.
    – aaron
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:48
  • @aaron there are no answers, and your comment has been helpful. Please submit it as an answer and I'll accept it. Oct 9, 2016 at 9:50
  • heh, thanks, but really i don't know if this question is even suitable for stackexchange... The question being "Does this sound like a good plan?" it's very vague and subjective. If you can revise it to ask a more objective question about the specifications of dovetail saws and their application, it might work a little better :)
    – aaron
    Oct 10, 2016 at 17:13
  • Have you bought anything yet James? If not I was just reading some advice in older woodworking books that might be of benefit in figuring out what you really need for joint work, and then larger backsaw cuts. Is there a max size that you're going to be working at in the near future? If so then you really only need one size of saw, and only a smaller one will do if you're working fairly small (say 4"/10cm board widths or so) as most of us do.
    – Graphus
    Oct 14, 2016 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


For good general purpose use, as a beginner, get a carcass saw (~13 ppi, crosscut filed, with a little depth to it - 2 inches or better.) It will serve you well for many purposes, and will be easier to start in the cut than a rip-filed saw. When it fails you in some way, then you can start building your inevitable collection :)

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