There are so many fine Western sawmakers today that it’s hard to believe that there were virtually none in 1996 , the year Independence Tool was founded.
New sawmakers are cropping up so quickly that it’s tough for me to keep track (and heck, it’s my job). I do try to stay on top of the market as best I can, and during the last couple years I’ve gotten to use saws from almost every maker , thanks to the handsawing classes I’ve taught in Michigan, Kentucky and Oregon.
I’m telling you all this because I’ve been working with a dovetail saw these last two weeks that has blown me away. It is, compared to its peers, the first among equals.
The dovetail saw from Andrew Lunn’s Eccentric Toolworks is a super-tuned jewel of a saw. It starts easier than any Western saw I’ve used , much like a Japanese saw. It flies through Ã?Â½” and Ã?Â¾” stock with ease. It is extraordinarily balanced. It leaves a whisper of a kerf behind.
And on top of all that, the saw has handmade touches (such as carving on the tote and engraving on the brass back) that make it as nice to look at as it is to use.
The price of all this amazingness? As of Jan. 5, 2009, it’s $350.
So who the heck is Andrew Lunn? And where did he come from?
Denizens of the discussion groups, such as WoodNet, have seen Lunn’s work. And if you were at the Woodworking in America conference, you might have seen some of Lunn’s saws in Mike Wenzloff’s booth (Wenzloff graciously agreed to host a couple toolmakers in his booth).
But Lunn is not a professional toolmaker. He’s a 37-year-old 911 paramedic who lives in Worthington, Ohio, and makes saws in his spare time. He describes himself as “obsessed” with saws, and that’s not an overstatement.
His dovetail saws are different than other premium saws in several significant ways. The blade is thinner than any other Western saw I’ve used at .015″ thick. Other saws use steel that is .018″ or .020″ thick. One criticism of this thin steel is that it will kink more easily if the saw is abused. Perhaps. But I think the saw’s blade feels very steady.
The teeth are minimally set , Lunn sets them with a special hammer that he forged himself. As a result, the saw removes very little wood and produces a razor-thin kerf that looks like a kerf from a Japanese saw. This is one of the other factors that makes the saw plunge through wood.
Also different: The saw’s rake. Most commercial saws have a consistent rake on every tooth. Relax the rake and the saw is easier to start but slow. Tighten it up and the saw becomes more aggressive but harder to start.
Lunn has relaxed the rake at the toe, which makes the saw easy to start. In the middle of the blade the rake is almost zero, which makes the saw aggressive once you start it. And he’s relaxed the rake at the heel as well, which prevents the saw from sticking there. It really works.
A criticism of this filing is that it is going to be a challenge for the user to replicate. Perhaps, but you can always get Lunn to resharpen it.
Another interesting difference is the folded brass back. The back is narrower at the toe than at the heel, which reduces weight at the toe. Also, the saw’s blade is “canted,” which means it’s narrower at the toe than at the heel. Both of these tweaks help give the saw its excellent balance.
And finally, the tote is thicker than those on other saws. When I first picked it up I thought the tote felt too thick (so did Senior Editor Glen D. Huey). But after working with the saw a bit, we changed our minds on that score. It’s a very comfortable handle.
The handmade touches only add to the whole package. The saw uses traditional split nuts, with a hand-engraved medallion. The tote itself feels very handmade with no sharp edges for your hand and has the subtle toolmarks of good hand work. The engraving is just cool.
All in all, I’m profoundly impressed and recommend this saw without reservation. Lunn loaned it to us to try, but it’s not going back. I am buying this one personally for my shop at home.
To contact Lunn about making a saw for you, visit his web site at Eccentric Toolworks.
To download a chart comparing the saws in our shop right now, click the file below.
Dovetail Saw.pdf (23.5 KB)
– Christopher Schwarz