Japanese Handsaws
Photo: Russell Kaye
When I'm using a Japanese saw, I hold the handle with my wrist straight, my shoulder in line with the cut, and my forefinger pointed toward the blade. Slight finger pressure is all it takes to guide this tool.
Precision Cuts
I use my Japanese saws to cut dovetails or for other precise bench work, and let my power tools handle most of the less refined cuts made on the job site. Of all my Japanese saws, the one that gets the most use is my ryoba, shown in the photo, right. It has rip teeth on one side of the blade and cross—cut teeth on the other, so it's like having two saws on one handle.

Tooth Protection
You should always store a saw separately from other tools so its teeth don't get damaged. With Western saws, it's easy enough to hang them on the wall by the big hole in the handle. But Japanese saws have straight handles, so I made a wall—mounted rack just for them. Most of the saws slide in and out of vertical, open—ended slots cut into the edge of the rack, but I keep my flush—cutting saw in its own closed slot, like a kitchen knife in a block, because the blade is short and narrow.

Sawing Coach
To begin my cuts, I place the saw blade on the cut line and rest my left thumb on the wood, next to and just touching the side of the blade.At first, I make short strokes at a low angle (1).Once the saw is solidly in its kerf, I raise the handle and make long, efficient strokes, blowing away the sawdust as it covers the line (2). But if I veer from that line, I'll go shallow again to correct course.

Norm's Tip
The only rule on sawing—whether it's Western or Japanese style—is to stay comfortable and loose and keep your eye on the line. Don't press down too hard; just let the saw do the work.
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