Metate in Middle America
Today I’m finishing up an article on sawmaker Andrew Lunn at Eccentric Toolworks for the next issue of The Fine Tool Journal , my employer’s office is closed for the holiday so I’m getting to work on some personal projects.
So I took the Eccentric dovetail and carcase saws down to my basement shop to cut some dovetails in poplar. While I was down there I also cut some dovetails using my favorite Japanese dozuki. Before I went all “Wild West” in the saw department, this dozuki was my best friend. It’s a blacksmith-made saw, hand finished and tuned.
My wife gave it to me as a birthday present in 1998. And so I promptly destroyed several of its teeth in some white oak (and probably soiled some undergarments in the process).
It turned out to be a good thing, however. I sent the saw to Japan for sharpening and had it tuned up for cutting Western woods by a professional saw sharpener. This process is called “metate” and can be carried to extremes (read this cool article if you want to know more).
Since then, I’ve never broken a tooth, and I still use this saw for really fine cuts.
The Japanese saw has a sawplate of .012″ thin, which is even thinner than the Eccentric’s anorexic .015″.
What was remarkable was when I compared the Eccentric saws to my beloved dozuki. The Eccentric saw left a kerf that was the same (maybe even a little thinner) than the dozuki’s. As a bonus, the rip teeth of the Eccentric saw chugged through the poplar in half the strokes of the crosscut dozuki.
Take a look at the photo at the top of this entry. The left-hand kerf is the Eccentric. The right-hand kerf is the dozuki.
The Eccentric carcase saw is also impressive. The shoulder cuts it leaves are as clean and smooth as anything I’ve encountered. Check out the photo below. Look ma, no chisel work.
Andrew-san does some nice work up in central Ohio. Some day I hope to be able to sharpen a saw this well.
– Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I reviewed rip dozukis in 2004. You can download that article below.