It sounds like a difficult question, but it’s really not.
“I really want a Wenzloff & Sons handsaw, but I am a (graduate student, hobo, philosophy major) and cannot afford it. Can you recommend a saw that works almost as well but costs only $10?”
Yes, I can.
For many years I have been recommending the Stanley SharpTooth 20” panel saw – less than $11 – to students and readers who don’t have the funds to buy a new premium saw or don’t have the inclination to fix up a vintage saw.
The SharpTooth saw is made in the United States from “global materials” and is a winning combination of low price, excellent tooth selection and lousy tote.
The sawplate of the SharpTooth is .034”-thick steel and not taper-ground. The teeth are set at .010” on either side of the sawplate – that’s quite a rank set. The toothline is filed at 9 points per inch with a Japanese-style triple-bevel tooth. And the toothline is induction-hardened.
The combination of these tooth characteristics make for a quick saw – even in thick materials. It cuts a wide kerf, but because of the saw’s deep gullets and razor-sharp teeth it is faster than I expected it to be.
The saw leaves a rough surface behind and can be tough to steer because it is over-set, but the surface is certainly acceptable for a saw designed for rough work.
Despite all these good points, the saw is no fun to use for long periods of time. The plastic handle isn’t designed for a proper three-finger grip, so the tote is too roomy. The hard plastic handle gets a little slippery from sweat after four or five cuts.
And it is so ugly.
I purchased one of these SharpTooth saws from the home center to use during a video about getting started in hand tools. After the shoot is over, I think I’m going to make a new tote for the saw and see if it is worth keeping around.
Though it cuts just fine, it won’t be a lifetime saw. Induction-hardened teeth stay sharp for a long time — but when they do go dull they are too hard to sharpen with a file. So you end up trashing the saw (something I will never do to a tool) or cutting up the sawplate and make it into scrapers.
Still, on balance, I think it’s an excellent first saw for would-be hand-tool users. It is sharp and ready to go right from the store. And it cuts like crazy.
— Christopher Schwarz
If you want to learn all about the saws needed for making furniture, you might want to check out my new book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” In it, I review the 50 or so hand tools you need to build furniture and show you how to select them based on features — not price or brand. The book is carried by ShopWoodworking.com and can be purchased here.
Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.