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The Sawing Contest

So everyone got their saws and for the next hour we crosscut that board with varying degrees of success with different saws. Every fine-tooth Western saw had trouble crosscutting the poplar as we got closer to liberating a piece that was 1/16″ long.

So I decided to cheat.

Bridge City Tools JS-1 backsaw, a late entrant into the sawing contest.

I went over to John Economaki’s booth and asked to borrow one of the fine-tooth Japanese saws he makes and sells. And I pulled John into the sawing contest. The saw was his JS-1 Dozuki, a 32 tpi backsaw. As you can imagine, that saw’s finer teeth allowed me to cut a much smaller offcut. And there were cries that we needed to have both an Eastern and Western division for the contest.

Then John took the saw and made a couple cuts. His second attempt was the winner. We put a dial caliper on the piece and it was .023″ at one and .0245″ at the other. That is precision sawing.

The winning piece — signed by the winner.

This, of course, led to Adam and John getting into a discussion, and Adam went over to John’s booth to look at some of his Bridge City Tool Works planes that cut moulding profiles. Adam was particularly intrigued by the one that cut a V-groove both with the grain and across it.

Adam seemed impressed by the tools, but he gave John some good-natured grief about the price. It was my favorite quote o
f the entire weekend, and I wrote it down immediately in my notebook:

“Bridge City Tools are like bacon,” Adam said. “It’s something you can only have if you’re divorced.”

Future Tool Events
Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is holding more of these free hand-tool events in 2007 and 2008. Keep an eye on the company’s web site as the organizers are pondering adding a few more shows. If you like hand work, I think they’re definitely worth the trip. The Lie-Nielsen folks bring in other tool makers, so you get a rare opportunity to try lots of different tools. And, if you’re lucky, you just might get to do battle with John Economaki or Adam Cherubini.

— Christopher Schwarz

After winning the sawing contest, John Economaki shows off by crosscutting my business card (thanks, John). The ragged edge that is showing is from my saw. His cut looked like it was made with scissors.

 Christopher Schwarz is the editor of Popular Woodworking magazine and a hand-tool enthusiast. You can reach him at

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