Chris Schwarz's Blog

Update to the Carcase Saw Review

We reviewed six premium carcase saws in the Autumn 2009 issue of Woodworking Magazine, and while all of the saws performed quite well, the Gramercy carcase saw took top honors. (That bit of information is free; for the rest, please buy the issue. My children haven’t eaten meat for a week.)

Whenever we review tools, there are always some parts of the tools that we don’t like or would change. And this review was no exception. Some saws were a little toe-heavy, for example. When our five editors compared handles, all of us agreed that the tote on the Medallion Toolworks saw was a bit too girthy. The tote was a full 1″ thick and some of the editors had a bit of difficulty grasping it comfortably for long periods. (Also, we should note that the Medallion Toolworks tote was by far the best looking and highly finished).

Well sawmaker Ed Paik takes customer service seriously. After he read our review he built a new saw with a modified handle to try to address our concerns. You might think that Ed did this because we are a magazine, but his customers tell me otherwise. Ed is a custom maker, so he’s not happy until the customer is.

Ed gave us the new saw at our Woodworking in America Conference in St. Charles, Ill., and I’ve been breaking it in a bit and getting comfortable with it. Today I asked the staff to use the saw and compare it to the Gramercy saw, which was the winner.

Associate Editor for the Web Drew Depenning said the new Medallion saw was much improved in comfort. It’s a bit thinner (.95″ thick) and has less width. Drew noted that he still thought the Gramercy was easier to start.

Senior Editor Robert W. Lang also said the Medallion was more comfortable, but now he thought it was too small for his large hands. He also thought the Gramercy was too small, so this should come as no surprise. Bob also noted that the Medallion was a bit less toe-heavy , Ed canted the sawblade a bit. Now the depth of cut is a little narrower at the toe.

I think the saw handle is much improved, and it is tied with my favorite tote of the bunch (the Eccentric Toolworks saw). I contend that the Gramercy is still the easiest to start of the bunch and the smoothest, though the Medallion is wicked fast (like the Adria).

Then Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick tried the new Medallion and claimed it as her own.

Bottom line: If you had any reservations about the Medallion Toolworks saw because of our comments on the tote, forget them. Ed will make you feel real comfortable.

– Christopher Schwarz

12 thoughts on “Update to the Carcase Saw Review

  1. Christopher Schwarz

    Sean,

    Megan reports that she will trade me one stinky sock for the Medallion.

    Nice try.

    Chris

  2. Christopher Schwarz

    Rob,

    We didn’t discuss hang because it wasn’t much of a factor in this review. I found that all of the saws in the review had pretty similar hangs. The way I judge hang is with my hand in the tote in a comfortable working position.

    Hang does play a factor in saws, especially when you really start to lower it, like what Adam Cherubini does with his saws.

    However in this case, differences weren’t notable.

    Hope this helps.

    Chris

  3. Auguste Gusteau

    Dan, belive me, if you take one of the high priced saws reviewed above and one of any other medium priced saw with the same characteristics of the blade (geometry et cetera) and you send both to a good sharpening service then they will cut the same.

    P.S.
    In my life I’ve seen many, but I’ve never seen a handle cut a piece of wood.

  4. Rob Porcaro

    Chris,

    Thanks for the reviews.

    One issue that I don’t think the reviews discussed was the "hang" of the handle, the angle that the handle makes with the length of the blade.

    From the photos in the magazine it’s hard to judge, but it appears that the Gramercy and the Eccentric have a low angle, which would put the user’s hand more in line with the cutting edge. The Wenzloff and Adria handles look higher, making the push of the hand at a larger angle with the cutting edge. Did the testers find differences in performance based on this?

    Thank you.

    Rob

  5. Rob, The Tattooed Woodworker

    Tony,

    A Japanese plane review is a good idea, but I think it ultimately can’t be done. As someone who has used Japanese planes (kanna) for years, I can say it’s almost impossible to compare them apples-to-apples. Even among a single maker’s wares there can be such a remarkable difference that trying to compare several is futile. There are many things like steel types, forge process, iron hardness, dai conditioning and drying, and actually, even size, to consider. For example, Tsuneseburo makes planes ranging from $400 to over $1200. His lesser wares can’t hold a candle to his best quality work, but some would argue that his worst work is markedly better than another maker’s best.

    The only thing I can say is check out http://japantool-iida.com/index.html, and ask Iida-san any questions you may have. He’s very helpful, and despite his modesty, his English is quite good. 🙂

    Hope this helps!

  6. Bill Dalton

    Chris,
    I would like to third the saw review. I have a nice dog house and stay in it most of the time. We just got back from spending an afternoon at the LN showroom in Maine. Dennis was great. Back in the DH. Talk about customer service. I got a ball cap while there and on the way home the airlines trashed it. Called LN to order another one and they said don’t worry about it we’ll send you a replacement with your order. Wow!

    While I like top drawer tools, I also like a good deal. I picked up an old No 70 Diston and am looking into having Bad Axe sharpen it for me. A comparison of tuned old saws like the hand planes would be very helpful. I also picked up a 10" Littlestown and 10" Columbian vise for under $30, I love garage sales! This weekend it’s up to the B-I-L’s to sandblast and paint.
    Bill

  7. Jim Lebans

    Chris,

    One thing I don’t remember being mentioned in the review is that with a custom order of one of the Medallion saws, Ed requests specific measurements of your hand. He then shapes the handle accordingly. So whether the "one size fits all" handle you tested is too large or too small is largely irrelevant. Ed Makes the handle to fit your hand.

    When I got mine in the Mail (Christmas came late last year, but it was worth the wait) the handle fit like a beautiful birds-eye glove.

  8. Don Peregoy

    Chris
    I would like to second Tony’s request for a Panel saw review. I all so have a list of articles I would like to see but it would be a little long for a Blog comment. Will send it when UPS rates go back down.

    It is remarkable how many high quality saws are coming onto the market. When I got my dovetail saw there were really only two chooses. I wonder how big the market is. It is wonderful to see people making a living doing High quality enriching work.

    Dan: I hope you don’t get flamed your request is reasonable – but I would like you to consider that 30 days is not that long and if you built the Dog House with your new saw you could pass the time quite comfortable.

    Don Peregoy

  9. Tony

    Nice update, Chris.

    I’d love to see a panel saw review.

    Of course, I’d also like to see a Japanese plane review, an oil review (for plane irons), and a review on plane storage options (besides fancy wall cabinets).

    Maybe we can convince your publisher to go a weekly format? 🙂

    Best regards,

  10. Dan S.

    Chris,
    I Would love to get my hands on one of these beautiful high end saws, but I would be in the dog house for a month if I did. Is there any chance you could do a review of the lower end saws made by Stanley (flame suit on),Robert Larson, Putsch, Pax, etc? I’d love to hear how these saws do out of the box, and then after being sharpened by someone who know what they are doing.

  11. Rick Lasita

    Chris, I do have the Autumn issue so I hope your kids enjoyed their dinner. I read the article and chose the Lie-Nielsen option, one, because I have their dovetail saw and love it, and two, because of the price, as you mentioned, you don’t often get to claim the LN option being the least expensive tool in the test. The quality of any tool they make can’t be a bad thing either. I bought both the rip and cross cut versions and after using to hand cut tenons, I feel I made a very good choice. (I posted my hand cut tenon comments on my blog). Bottom line, the article was timely andvery helpful. Thanks for the article.

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