Sick of Saws Yet? No? Read On - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Sick of Saws Yet? No? Read On

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Sawing Techniques, Saws, Woodworking Blogs

Several readers have asked what the differences are among the Kenyon saw that showed up at Woodworking in America, the Gramercy dovetail saw and the Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw. In what I promise is my last post about saws this week, here are some observations.

1. Weight. The Kenyon saw (the bottom saw in the photo) weighs 7.8 ounces. The Gramercy (the top saw in the photo) weighs 6.2 oz. The Lie-Nielsen comes in at 11 oz. Can you feel the difference? You bet. Does it matter? That’s your call. I can cut good joints with a lightweight saw and a heavy one. And so can you.

2. Handle. This difference is important to me. All three saw handles are about the same thickness (Gramercy: .88″. Kenyon: .86″. Lie-Nielsen: .89″). But they definitely feel different. To my hand, the Gramercy feels the smallest and has the most open space. It is .9″ at its narrowest point on the handle. The Kenyon saw fits my hand extraordinarily well, like a driving glove. It is 1.13″ at its narrowest point. The Lie-Nielsen is between the two. It’s not as open as the Gramercy, but it is a tad more open than the Kenyon. It is 1.23″ at its narrowest point.

3. The brass back. The Gramercy’s is the smallest at Ã?½” wide. The Kenyon is a bit wider at 5/8″. The Lie-Nielsen is widest at Ã?¾”. The back adds weight, so these statistics should come as no surprise.

4. Blade thickness. The Gramercy is .018″. The Kenyon is .017″. The Lie-Nielsen is .02″. These are all workable thicknesses for a dovetail saw.

5. Point per inch. The Gramercy is 18 ppi. The Kenyon is 20 or 21 ppi (the teeth are fairly boogered up). The stock Lie-Nielsen is 15 ppi. In my book, that means the Gramercy and Kenyon saws are tuned for thinner stock, such as drawers. The Lie-Nielsen is tuned more for carcase work. But you can use either kind of saw for either operation.

What does all this mean? The Kenyon saw is a little different than these two other commercial saws. And so when Mike Wenzloff starts making them, it will be another good choice for your short list.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 13 comments
  • Barry

    We anxiously await your review, even if it will only be based on a short period of use.

  • David Brown

    [quote]OK. I got the Lee Valley saw this morning and have been working with it for the last half hour. I’ll post something about it this weekend once is break it in a bit.

    Are you planning on testing the handle strength? According to Adam Cherubini the easily replaceable handle might be a good thing for those of us who drop things. 😉

    As an aside, do you think that Roubo was a proponent of cork covered floors in the workshop or did the always work in wood-floored shops? I wish the floors in my garage were some sort of wood. The current foam-covered floors have saved more than one tool from the unyielding concrete below.

  • Christopher Schwarz

    OK. I got the Lee Valley saw this morning and have been working with it for the last half hour. I’ll post something about it this weekend once is break it in a bit.


  • Larry Marshall

    Sick of saws yet?

    To quote Michael Caine in Batman Begins, "Never!"

    Where else in this world can we get information like this about saws, Chris? I second the emotion about a report on the Lee Valley saw, particularly the odd-looking back and its feel in use.

  • Scott MacLEOD

    Chris – when you are referring to the backs width is that from top to bottom (height)? Thanks, Scott

  • Christopher Schwarz


    I used it briefly for six cuts. One is on the way….


  • Barry

    So where does the new LV Veritas dovetail saw fit into the picture. Seems like you probably had a chance to use it at WIA. So spill the beans already…

  • Lindley

    To Chris and Mike — thank you for the quick responses and information. I’m still thinking that heavier saws (to a point) are better at least for me. I have a Disston tenon saw that Mark Harrell (Technoprimitives) prepared; using it is almost like laying a hot knife on butter — the heft of that saw does all of the work for me.

    To Jack — I know! That pdf file is huge! First, you’ll never get an actual size print of the saw on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. If you download that pdf file to your hard drive, then start Adobe Reader (a free download from Then select Page Setup from your File menu; select the Landscape orientation and put 2.8651% in the scale. Then in the Print menu (from file menu) set the Page Scaling to None. When I print using these parameters the handle and the tip of the sawplate are chopped off in my 8 1/2 x 11 print. However the blade dimension where the tote begins is the 1 3/8" that Chris gave in an earlier post. You’ll obviously need to try to print it on 8 1/2 x 14 paper.

    If you set the Scale (in Page Setup) back to around 1.87%, you can get a nice, but reduced, print of the Kenyon, suitable for framing!

    — Ed

  • Alan

    This will give armchair woodworkers something to pontificate over when they purchase a dovetail saw. Some will just have to get a saw like this, considering it to be the "holy grail".

    A dovetail saw is but one tool, a craftsman it doesn’t make.

  • Jack

    I have tried several options and two printers and can’t get the PDF file to print full size. With Print Range (All), Page Scaling (none), the Preview: Composite shows Document: 485.0 x 198.1in; Paper: 8.5 x11.01n. The print comes out wit only a small area of the spine. I was wanting a full size print out to compare to my LN saws.
    I noted this on the first day of posting and have re-opened the PDF with no chang.
    thanks in advance if you can fix it.

  • Nate

    Chris –

    The only thing that disappointed me in the above article is when you wrote, "In what I promise is my last post about saws this week."

    Love what you’re doing.


  • Samson

    Thanks, Chris, for the straightforward comparison and picture. That is all interesting information. I’m grateful.

  • Dan Pope

    Don’t ever worry about writing too much about the various saws, it just contributes to our education. The only downside is that my short list will grow longer.

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