Whether you are new to woodworking or just looking for some new tools for your workshop, we’ll help you find the best Japanese saw that is most suitable for your projects. It’s often referred to as Japanese hand saw or nokogiri. What’s unique about this saw is that it cuts on the pull stroke instead of the push stroke the way many European saws are designed.
Many woodworking enthusiasts find that the Japanese hand saw’s design makes cutting more efficient in several applications. There are different types of Japanese hand saws and we have listed each of them below along with their best uses.
The Best Japanese Saws for Woodworking
|Teeth Per Inch|
|Gyokucho Razor Dozuki Saw with Blade||7.1 inch||17|
|SUIZAN Japanese Hand Saw 9-1/2 Inch Dozuki (Dovetail)||9-1/2 inch||25|
|Gyokucho Ryoba 9-1/2″ Double Edge Razor Saw||9-1/2 inch||14.9 crosscut and 7.5 rip cut|
|Gyokucho Razor Ryoba Saw with Blade||7 inch||19 crosscut and 9 rip cut|
|Dozuki “Z” Saw||9-1/2 inch||26|
|SUIZAN Japanese Pull Saw Ryoba||9-1/2 inch||15 crosscut and 9 rip cut|
|Gyokucho Razor Saw Dotsuki Takebiki Saw||9-1/2 inch||20|
|SUIZAN Japanese Hand Saw 10-Inch Kataba||10 inch||14|
Uses of Japanese Hand Saws
Japanese hand saws are hand-powered cutting machines. If used correctly, they can sometimes cut even faster than a cutting machine. A lot of people prefer using Japanese saws compared to other types of hand saws because of their efficiency and the clean cut they produce.
Japanese Hand Saw vs Other Hand Saws for Woodworking
Just exactly how efficient is the Japanese saw compared to other woodworking saws? If you’ve been exposed to woodworking or have a little experience on woodworking projects, it is highly likely that you’ve used a Western handsaw since they are more common. How is cutting on the pull stroke different?
If you try to use a Japanese saw even once, you will feel a significant difference in its ease of use. That’s because cutting on the pull stroke feels a lot more natural. It requires less effort and you can easily follow your cutting line. Cutting with a Japanese saw is less tiring. But it has many other benefits which we will discuss in detail with the different types of Japanese saws below.
Types of Japanese Hand Saws
All Japanese saws are designed with teeth that are filed to cut on the pull stroke. But there are different styles of the Japanese hand saw and they each have their own advantages in various applications.
Ryoba in Japanese means double-edged. This Japanese hand saw is designed with cutting teeth on both sides of its blade. One side is filed for crosscutting and the other allows for rip cutting. However, some manufacturers have come up with other variations of the Ryoba where it can cut softwoods on one side and hardwoods on the other side.
Unlike the Ryoba, the Kataba Japanese hand saw is single-edged. It only has a set of teeth on one edge of the blade. This saw is commonly used for general woodcutting purposes. It has a thicker blade so it’s designed without a back. You can also use this saw for ripping and crosscutting.
The Dozuki Japanese hand saw is a kataba-style saw with a slight difference in design. It has a stiff spine which allows for fine and precision cutting. You are not limited in the depth of cut when using a Dozuki saw so it’s widely recognized as the most useful Japanese saw.
This type of Japanese saw has a short and curved blade and it has teeth on both sides. The Azebiki is most commonly used for starting a cut in the center of a panel. Its small size lets you easily cut into tight spots.
The Kugihiki Japanese hand saw is designed with a blade that is most suitable for flush cutting. It’s great for wooden nails and dowels. Because it has a thinner blade on its tip, you will find that it’s easy to bend so you can create finesse cuts. That means, there is less chance of damaging the surface of your wood and its thick rear allows the blade to be stable in your hand.
This saw is designed for curve cutting and it’s great for cutting a wooden bucket at the bottom. Its curved design allows you to cut curved profiles and you can use it both for softwood and hardwood.
You can use this Japanese hand saw for cutting green and seasoned woods. It’s designed for cutting logs and beams as well. It’s commonly used for general construction woodworking as well as in framing timber but you can also use it to rough cut softwood lumber.
If you want to cut curves and keyholes, the Mawashibiki is the right Japanese saw to use. It’s specifically designed for turning cuts and is has a narrow blade which makes it suitable for those types of projects.
The Best Japanese Hand Saws
The best Japanese saw would really depend on what you intend to use it for but we’ve listed the best models available based on their efficiency and design. Since we are talking about woodworking, we will focus on Ryoba, Dozuki and Kataba because these types are most commonly used in woodworking.
Teeth per inch: 17
This hand saw is modern variation of the traditional Japanese saw. It features accurate cuts that you can use for a variety of joints. Its blade is 180mm and is designed with a stiff back which gives you better control when cutting.
Use it to cut thin and straight kerfs. The great thing is that it is designed with a comfortable and contoured grip so you don’t easily get tired even after a while of handling the saw. This saw is more suitable for crosscutting and is not very efficient for rip cuts.
- Cuts at really fast speed
- Blade is easily replaceable
- Front teeth are great for starting plunge cuts
- The blade is razor sharp
- You may need to replace the blade more often than other models but replacement blades come at reasonable prices and changing the blade is convenient
- If you want to create deeper cuts, you may need a larger saw
Teeth per inch: 25
This saw is great for both soft wood and hard wood. You can use it for cutting tiger maple, teak and even driftwoods. It’s made of excellent quality Swedish steel which combines durability, accuracy and efficiency.
The great thing about this Japanese saw having steel blade is that it does not rust. That makes it a great value for the money since you don’t have to replace it due to rusting. When you notice that you need to sharpen the blade, you can easily replace it with affordable replacement blades.
- Cuts through hard wood like oak easily
- The spine is rigid and strong which makes it extra durable
- Blade is easily replaceable and replacement is cheap
- Sharp blade
- Produces smooth cuts and small kerfs
- Does not come with a blade protector but a zip bag is included
Teeth per inch: 14.9 crosscut and 7.5 rip cut
The Gyokucho Ryoba features impulse hardened teeth which makes it extremely durable even under heavy use. It comes with a 9.4 inch blade with 1.7mm teeth pitch. This saw can cut a wide variety of joints.
One side of the blade is suitable for ripping while the other side works well for crosscutting. If you intent to do projects that require both ripping and crosscutting, this tool is a great investment to add to your collection.
- Can be used with a miter box
- The blade is very sharp and the hardened teeth design makes it last for a long time
- It’s easy to replace the blade when the time comes
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Has a stiff back which makes for perfectly straight cuts
- Cutting straight lines may not be suitable for beginners
- May not be the best for cutting hard woods
Teeth per inch: 19 crosscut and 9 rip cut
This Japanese Ryoba hand saw is like having 2 saws in one tool. It features two sides with one suitable for finer cuts or crosscutting work and the other side is great for rip cuts. It features a .5mm thick blade which provides a fine kerf.
What’s unique about this model is its handle which you can tilt in relation to the blade. That means you can easily access areas that would normally be difficult to reach. This is a great feature which woodworkers like carpenters and boat builders will find extremely useful.
- Easy to store and can fit into a tool box or work bag
- Replacement blades are readily available and the blade is easy to replace
- Makes fine and precise cuts both for crosscuts and rip cuts
- Easily cuts through hard woods
- The blade is very flexible which might be a hindrance for projects that require really straight cuts
- Some noted that the blade occasionally gets loose but you can easily readjust it
Teeth per inch: 26
This Dozuki saw features a high-precision and durable blade with tensioned high carbon steel. It’s highly efficient and very easy to replace when the blade gets worn. This saw is ideal for tight fitting and precision joinery.
It’s a great saw for beginners because it’s easy to handle and you have a lot of control. The blade does not easily blind so it’s the ideal saw for those who are new to Japanese hand saws.
- Very efficient and does crosscuts cleanly
- Works great for wood joinery
- You can easily make longer cuts because of the design of the spine
- May not be the best hand saw for making blind cuts
Teeth per inch: 15 crosscut and 9 rip cut
This double-edged Japanese hand saw works well for cutting both soft and hard woods. It features two blades. One for rip cutting and the other for crosscutting.
The saw has a minimalistic design so it’s a lot lighter and simpler to use. Because of the double-edged design, you will not only save on costs but you will also save time and storage space.
- Fast and convenient to use
- Easy to make a straight cuts
- The handle could be too smooth and may slip occasionally
Teeth per inch: 20
This saw is great for several types of joinery. It’s designed with impulse hardened teeth so you can expect it to be durable even under heavy use. With this design and blade, you can easily get a very thin kerf and it produces clean and smooth cuts.
It’s great for cutting hard woods. The handle has a traditional wooden design with a cane wrap and it’s comfortable to grip.
- Great for cutting dovetails
- Leaves a smoother finish and fine kerfs
- Easy to cut straight lines
- Replacement blade is not as affordable as other models
Teeth per inch: 14
This Kataba type hand saw has the longest blade among all the above featured Japanese saws. That makes it extremely easy to handle and control. The blade is easily removable and interchangeable so it’s very versatile.
It’s significantly lighter than Western saws and other Japanese hand saw models. That means it requires less effort to create smooth and straight cuts.
- Great for cutting hard woods
- Razor sharp blades
- Not the best if you need smaller cross cuts