Chris Schwarz's Blog

Wenzloff & Sons to Make an Early Kenyon Saw

Good news for those of you who went wild with lust over liked the early Kenyon dovetail saw featured earlier this week. Saw maker Mike Wenzloff says he will manufacture very close copies of this valuable and rare saw for sale during the next few weeks.

The saw surfaced at our Woodworking in America conference in Berea, Ky., when an attendee brought it in and asked Wenzloff if he could sharpen it or replace the blade. People went nuts.

Tool historians in the crowd estimated the saw, which the attendee purchased for $35, was circa 1770. Saws from the 18th century are rare. And dovetail saws from this period are even less common. So Wenzloff took a bunch of measurements off the saw and is about to start making the tool at the same time he makes a batch of sash and tenons saws from the same era.

The dovetail saw will be available directly from Wenzloff & Sons for $140. You can order one by e-mailing Wenzloff directly.

Wenzloff says he’s going to make his saw as close as possible to the original. I measured the thickness of the sawplate of the original at .017″ thick; Wenzloff’s will be .018″ thick. The brass back will be essentially the same thickness. Wenzloff said he’s going to alter the usable depth at the toe a bit because the blade in the original had shifted a bit. The saw will be 20 ppi, which is just about the pitch of the original (which was hard to measure).

The saw is even going to be stamped like the original with “Kenyon,” “Spring” and London” stamped into the spine. On the original saw, the word “Kenyon” is upside down.

“(I) wonder how many I will produce with an upside down portion,” Wenzloff wrote in an e-mail.

I hope he’ll stamp all of them wrong. It seems the right thing to do.

– Christopher Schwarz

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17 thoughts on “Wenzloff & Sons to Make an Early Kenyon Saw

  1. Jamie Bacon

    Thank you Mike. That sounds like it’s going to be a great looking saw, as well as a fantastic user I’m sure. Just like the other 3 Wenzloff’s I have. Can they be ordered yet by e-mailing you?

  2. Mike

    Hi Chris–I suffer from being afar, not having it in my hands. Between that and a failing fleeting memory of when it was in my possession…Before I send out notices of details I evidently need to confirm the back.

    Jamie,

    The wood will be European Beech, which is what the original is. We will be breaking from the unstained Beech tradition on this saw.

    Take care, Mike

  3. Jamie Bacon

    I was curious as to what type of wood the new Wenzloff/Seaton saw will use for the handle?

    Thanks,

    Jamie

  4. Mike

    And because I have traditionally used brass for backs, I do want to clarify that I will be using steel backs as per this example.

    And one never knows whether the Wenzloff & Sons stamp will be upside down or not…

    Take care, Mike

  5. Mike

    Hi Samson,

    The short answer to whether you should consider buying this saw is pretty much what I tell everyone about any saw purchase. That is if one has something that works well for them, do not go buying the same thing.

    All DT saws are roughly the same with certain minor differences. That applies to the LN and Gramercy saws you mention. Now, there are literally thousands of different saws waiting to be made that differ in one or more details. But if one has a saw, one should either use it as is or revamp it to work better for what they do.

    But really, this all comes down to this particular saw’s uniqueness as regards its historical significance. While I will seek to come very close to this Kenyon, it too will have the same variance that other Kenyons of this period had–they are largely handmade for a goodly portion of the process. But we’ll come pretty close.

    In the end, only the person contemplating this purchase can answer whether they need or want (or need and want) this saw.

    Take care, Mike

  6. Samson

    Thanks, Mike. I’ll try one more time, and forgive me if I am too blunt (I covet your saws, and even own one, so I absolutely mean no disrespect):

    If you line up the physical characteristics of this old saw and Joel’s, they seem rather close: both roughly .018" thick; both in the 19-20 tpi rip range; both canted slightly; both have similar depths and lengths, I believe; and at least judging as well as possible from the pictures, the handles are similar — so: If I’m a user and presently own one of Joel’s, should I consider purchasing yours? In other words, will yours be significantly different in terms of performance and general feel given the similarity of of the cold dimensions and attributes?

    It’s a spectrum, I suppose. For example, it’s obvious how a rip dozuki differs from a LN DT. It’s also obvious how a LN DT differs from Joel’s DT. Perhaps your Kenyon and Joel’s will differ in subtle ways more like the degree of difference between LN’s DT and your DT sold through LV?

    I dunno, I’m just trying to understand the subtlties that you hope to impart to your effort, and maybe in doing so learn something about what makes a DT saw exceptional.

    Have you tried Joel’s? I made one of his kits, so I can’t speak to his handle as sold, but I must say that the overall size and thiness combine to make it nice to use. In short, I can’t argue with the results.

  7. Mike

    Hello Samson,

    There wasn’t contention about this Kenyon saw. Joel, Chris and I sparred a little in the Western saws session of WIA, but not about this saw.

    The details about this saw are similar to the Seaton saw. The main visual exception is the shape of the handle. The handle is broader than Joel’s. It is near what the Seaton chest saw is. Other differences compared to the Seaton chest saw are in my earlier response.

    The real issue over this saw is its age. This saw is one of the older DT saws found in the wild. That is this saw’s claim to fame.

    I guess I am having difficulty in understanding what exactly it is you have posted in both posts above. If this reply doesn’t clarify it for you, let me know.

    Take care, Mike

  8. Samson

    Hmmm, am I missing something here? Was the saw debate so "contentious" that it raised bad blood? I don’t mean to be impertinent, I just am honestly curious as to how this Kenyon (and Mike’s reproduction of it, presumably) differs from Joel’s saw? (which I take it is a quasi-reproduction of the Seaton Kenyon DT??) Perhaps the answer is that subtle differences in filing and shaping of the handle or an extra half ounce of brass in the back combine to give even superfically similar DT saws different "feels" and hence fit different preferences. But I dunno, I figured Chris and Mike (or maybe Adam or Joel) or some other saw afficiando might shed some light or at least voice an opinion. Thanks to anyone willing.

  9. Mike

    Lindley,

    The overhang on the back is due to it not being seated all the way back in the handle’s mortise. It’ll be just past the end.

    The brass we’ll use is within a few thou of the same thickness, same height. The steel. I have a choice of either 16 or 18 thou–cannot get an odd thickness. I choose to use the 18 thou.

    This is a lighter saw than either the Seaton chest DT (which is 9" in length and uses a thicker brass) as well as the LN DT saw. The blade length is a tad over 8" on this Kenyon model.

    Typically, the shorter the blade on a saw (any saw, really) the finer pitched and less usable depth. This saw will be most appropriate for thinner wood, though it will handle say 5/8" thick with reasonable speed. Thicker and it simply isn’t appropriate.

    The handle hang on this model is within a degree of the Seaton chest DT saw.

    Gotta run. Take care, Mike

  10. Lindley

    Chris, how does the Kenyon’s weight compare with say my 14" Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw (Model S-DS, 9" sawplate, 0.020 thickness, 15 ppi) ? They are both about the same dimensions, but the Kenyon just looks heavier — that brass back with some overhang looks massive! Do you have its actual mass?

    Also, with 20 ppi, the Kenyon must have been more useful for cutting dovetails in thin boards, right? Or was there some other reason to give it such a fine tooth pattern or perhaps it had another common use in the 18th century?

  11. Samson

    If one were interested in this saw for use, as opposed to for the cache/collectablity it will certainly have as a replica and a product of Mike’s good hands, is there going to be any significant difference between this saw and the Gramercy offering? The blade thickness is the same; the tooth counts are 20 and 19 respectively; the handles look rather similar in the photos; the lengths are near the same, etc.

    Just wondering if I’m missing some finer aspect … and need to dig into my wallet for $140. 😉

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