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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for a backsaw for creating mortise and tenon joints. My objective is to build a small display box and would like to advance joining techniques. Would this type of saw be useful in future projects with dove tail joints?

In full disclosure:
a) I am a novice
b) Do not currently own a hand saw (only a circular and jig saw)
c) Prefer to improve my woodworking skill set
d) Open to advice
e) Offer my thanks in advance
 

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Discussion Starter #2
After I posted and read my original question, I thought to myself - "I cannot believe there is not a hand saw in my garage"
 

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Well ur asking a loaded question. Backsaws come in two main variations, crosscut (for cutting across the grain) and rip filed (for cutting down the grain). That being said one of each is a good start.

But here goes your dilemma. You buy one saw and stick to woodworking your going to end up buying ten. As you do your research you'll see saws are commonly named for their purpose. Dovetail saw for dove tails, tenon saw for tenons, ect ect. You'll see many have different TPI (Teeth per inch) configurations. The more teeth the slower but finer the cut and vice versa. So basically to answer your question I would look at a dovetail saw and a rip and crosscut carcass saws. That will be a good start. It'll enable u to do fine finish work and if u like the hand saw thing u can expand into larger saw that will hog off material faster and allow for larger joinery Here's some places to start looking

http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=68511&cat=1,42884

http://www.lie-nielsen.com/saws/

Oh yeah and although one saw can do many jobs in woodworking it won't do any job it's not designed to do well.
 

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Keep an eye out for a Disston No 4. A 12" saw with 12-ish points per inch is perfect for casework & average sized tenons. Would also be useful for dovetail work in larger hardwood stock (5/8-3/4). I like a 10" saw with 15 ppi for working with 1/2" and smaller stock. I'm no pro with hand saws, though. I've just recently moved into hand cut DT's from a router jig.
Also, if you buy a saw from flea bay, make sure its plate is straight! People will try to sell all kinds of garbage on there. If you're patient you can find a good saw for $20 or less.
As far as rip & crosscut go, I've found that a sharp and well set12 ppi rip filed saw will crosscut tenon shoulders more than adequately. Crosscut teeth are useless when used as a rip saw. So of course ideal situation is to have one of both, but if you can only afford one at a time, but one that's rip filed.
 

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I just bought a Veritas Rip Carcass saw. It rips wonderfully, and crosscuts are pretty clean as long as I back the wood up to minimize tearout. I've read a bunch of authors state that at around 12 or more teeth per inch (TPI) you really only need rip-cut, and that seems to be supported by my experience so far with this saw. I'd happily use if for cutting every part of a tenon, and I expect I will. I wish I liked the look better (I'd prefer a metal back), but it works quite well.

You mention you want one that will also do dovetails: the carcass saw would be fine for dovetails in large stock, but I wouldn't probably use it for dovetails in, say, a small box. That calls for a smaller saw. Here's what I find I want frequently:

1) A large rip saw. Mine is a 30" Disston, filed to around 7TPI. It cuts anything down to 3/4" wonderfully, though there's quite a lot of tearout on the back. That happens with big rip saws. I think I paid $10-15 for this; your luck may vary.

2) A large crosscut saw. Mine is 11TPI, and I'm pretty sure it's made by Disston, though I can't recall for sure. I'd prefer a lower tooth count (maybe 8 or 9), but it works, it's just a little slower than I want. Again, I use it on anything down to 3/4". This was inherited, but I have a similar one that I haven't cleaned up that I think I paid $10 for.

3) A saw for ripping and cross-cutting thin lumber. I use a Shark brand ryoba for this. It will happily cut through 1/4" stock, and leaves a fantastic edge. I also use it for ripping thicker stock when the board is really short and I need to put it in my vise to support it. I think I paid around $15 for it.

4) A backsaw for handling tenons and small crosscuts with a bench hook. This is the Veritas carcass saw, and I'm really, really pleased I gave in and bought it. They run about $80, and are money well spent.

5) A small saw for really small parts and dovetails. I have an unbelievably cheap and low quality gent's saw for this. I bought it at WoodCraft for about $12, and it pretty much works now that I've refiled the teeth and reduced their set. If you're almost broke and desperately need a dovetail saw, go for it. Otherwise, find a better saw to buy. Probably one of the Veritas dovetail saws would be a much better purchase.

6) A coping saw. I have no idea what I paid for this, but I see reasonable coping saws at flea markets for $5 all the time, and new for $15-$40.

That pretty well covers any basic cutting task I'm likely to need to handle. I have a bunch of other saws, some for sentimental reasons, some because they were bundled with something else I wanted to buy, but most of them aren't even sharp, and only one of them is free of rust. The rest need some serious cleanup. Overall, I have less than $150 in saws, and I don't need any more. I'd like a nice turning saw, and maybe a frame saw for resawing, but those are really kind of specialty items, rather than general use.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies as you all gave me great information to consider. At least know, I will be able to make a more informed purchase. I know more teeth per inch will give a smoother cut but am not sure how much that would have been a consideration for me. So glad I asked the question.
 

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I have a cheap little Marples (Irwin?) pull saw I cannot seem to wean myself off of. I use it to hand cut dovetails or cut down 1/4" dowels. I have several hand saws but I find myself always reaching for this one, sharp and just a good multi-purpose saw as long as you're doing small detail stuff. Perfect for dovetails. I like it so much I bought a shark saw which is very similar but I still like the Marples better.

I think they are kind of like little cheap dozuki knockoff types. They work for me.
 

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I don't use a hand saw more than power saws but when I do, their all Japanese. I tried one many years ago and never went west again. I can cut equally well with either hand and never could when I used western saws. Don't know why.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 
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