In Part 1, I discussed my reasons for owning disposable saws. Here are some other considerations, including cost.
First, please don’t assume this is a knock at quality saw makers. There are many who are producing top-notch products, and vintage saws can be restored as perfect users. But if you’re an occasional sawyer…
The photo above an extreme case, but does illustrate a point. I could purchase 10 saws for £57 (US$90). Yes, 10 saws. Depending on your age and intensity of panel saw use (especially if you are a weekend woodworker), 10 saws could outlast you!
It’s perverse, but a good quality saw file would cost me £8 (US$12.50) – more than the price of a cheap saw. Then I’m going to need saw setting pliers and file for leveling the teeth. I respect that depending where you are in the world, this might not quite be the case – but it is worth thinking about.
To snap that into harsh figures. One cheap saw £6.35 (US$10), sharp and ready. A new, but lower-end panel saw £50 (US$79), an eBay find £20 (US$31). A set of pliers and files, another £40 (US$63) and the time to learn how to do it – plus, if you find you don’t like filing, the cost of sending it to a saw doctor. Don’t get me wrong, I think you should consider learning how to sharpen a saw, it’s a skill I’m glad I have and It’ll be very useful to you to. But if you just want to build your first workbench and get going, then why not consider a cheap saw?
There is also perhaps the issue of maintaining the skills and traditions of woodworking – a feeling that perhaps a cheap saw is cheating, or even somehow disrespectful. Well, as shown in the video in Part 1, I hold onto to things my family members have made and what they used to make them – even when they are pretty much expired, as is my great grandfather’s saw. His initials, almost eroded by use, makes it a very personal reminder of a long and uninterrupted life of work. Even his skills as a wheelwright meant at the time of service during the Great War his efforts were in maintaining horse-drawn vehicles. The photo below with the saw handle showing outside of his tool bag is a favorite of mine.
When I started work, my first saw was a cheap one and it in no way reduced my appreciation of my trade, inhibit my work nor prevent me from learning how to sharpen saws for different tasks when the time came to do so.
I’ll now climb down from my soap box. If you’ve had experiences, good or bad, with cheap saws and care to leave them in the comment below, I’d love to hear them.
— Graham Haydon