Last updated: August 10, 2021

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The Japanese saw, or Japanese saw for short, is growing in popularity as it stands for superior cutting performance. Whether for the professional craftsman or the hobbyist: the Japanese saw helps you to turn your project into reality.

With our big Japanese saw test 2021 we want to give you all the important information about Japanese saws so that you can find the right Japanese saw for you. We have worked out the advantages and disadvantages of the Japanese saw for you and listed valuable buying criteria to make your decision easier.




Summary

  • The Japanese saw is a combination of the scroll saw and the foxtail.
  • A Japanese saw is so fine that you can do precise and delicate woodwork as well as work with soft plastics.
  • There are five different types of Japanese saw, which are suitable for different applications.

The Best Japanese Saw: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a Japanese saw

What is a Japanese saw?

A Japanese saw, also called a Japanese saw (Japanese: 鋸 nokogiri), is the Japanese version of a fine saw or a foxtail.

With the Japanese saw you can work on fine wood and soft plastics. Other materials such as metal are too hard for this saw, so it can be damaged. The biggest difference between a Japanese saw and other saws is that you do not use pressure to cut with the Japanese saw, but only tension.

The Japanese saw is known to be very small and handy and to generate clean cuts. Depending on which type of Japanese saw you prefer, the blade thickness is between 0.3mm to 0.6mm wide.

How does a Japanese saw work?

A Japanese saw consists of a wooden, bar-shaped handle, which is between 20-30cm long and has an oval cross-section. The traditional models are wrapped with to: peddig reed. While more modern saw blades are often fixed to the handle by a screw so that you can change them quickly and easily, traditional saws are made from one piece.

The Japanese saw works without much effort!

A brief explanation of how it works: Place the saw blade on the cutting point and pull it backwards with little pressure. Because the Japanese saw works on the pull principle, only a thin saw blade needs to be used. As a result, very fine cuts can be generated without much effort.

For whom is a Japanese saw suitable?

Japanese saws are suitable for all craftsmen, whether private or professional, who need a delicate tool. Since there are different types of Japanese saws, you should be aware of the material you want to work with before buying so that you can find the right Japanese saw for you.

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Asian history has shaped Asian life, but also the life of many other countries, so that it is impossible to imagine life without the Japanese saw, for example.
(Image source: pixaby.com / Saison Tipchai)

If you want to break it down a bit, it can be said that beginners are often better off using a Dozuki Japanese saw. This is because this type of Japanese saw consists of a reinforced back, which makes it easier to handle.

However, you cannot generate deep cuts with this Japanese saw. Professionals and advanced users can instead venture to variants such as the Kataba or Ryoba Japanese saw to exploit the full potential of the Japanese saw.

How much does a Japanese saw cost?

Depending on the quality, there are different prices for the Japanese saw. The price starts from 10€ and can still be very high depending on the workmanship. For a better overview, we have listed a small price table here:

Price class in €
Price class 1 10€-40€
Price class 2 41€-75€
Price class 3 from 75€

It is very important that you make sure that the saw is made of a high quality material. Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish counterfeit saws from high quality saws. The crucial difference is that the high-quality saws can cut the material to be processed very quickly and easily.

In the following video, a high-quality Japanese saw is compared with a cheap Japanese saw and a standard saw. The video illustrates the interdependence of price and quality in relation to a Japanese saw:

What are the alternatives to a Japanese saw?

If you have decided against buying a Japanese saw, there are also alternatives that achieve a similar result.

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Besides the Japanese saw, there are other alternatives that may be of interest to you.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Barn Images)
  1. the scroll saw: If you need a saw especially for plywood or solid wood panels, the fretsaw is a good alternative. Especially straight cuts, tight curves or even smaller ornaments can be made with the scroll saw but of course also with the Japanese saw.
  2. the foxtail: The other alternative is the foxtail, which is very common, especially in Europe. It is very easy to cut particularly thick boards. With the foxtail you can make a wide cut.

Overall, the Japanese saw is a combination of the scroll saw and the foxtail!

What distinguishes a Japanese saw and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

All in all, we would first like to give you an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of a Japanese saw and then give you more specific information on the five sub-types.

Advantages
  • Cuts on tension
  • Very fast and clean cuts
  • Only a thin blade is needed due to sawing on tension
  • Little effort required
Disadvantages
  • Cutting direction is very difficult to correct
  • Not suitable for beginners
  • Higher risk of injury due to extremely sharp saw blades

In the following, we have compiled an overview of saw types so that you can see the differences between the various types at a glance.

Saw type Description Range of use
Dōzuki "Hull saw" - a single-toothed saw with a back Primarily suitable for precise cuts, comparable to the European fine saw
Kataba "Single-toothed saw" - a single-toothed saw without a back Primarily suitable for large and deep cuts
Kobiki "Wood saw" Ripping boards or also in tree care
Kugihiki "(Wood) nail saw" For flush sawing of, for example, dowels
Ryōba "Double teeth" - a saw with teeth on both sides Suitable for longitudinal cuts as well as for cross or diagonal cuts

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate Japanese saws

In the next step, we will give you specific buying criteria to help you find the perfect Japanese saw for you. These buying criteria include:

Quality

It always pays to invest in good quality!

As already mentioned, it is advantageous to buy a high quality Japanese saw. There are a lot of counterfeits on the market. However, it is very difficult for the untrained eye to see the difference between a high-quality Japanese saw and the imitation version in a direct comparison.

Area of application

Before buying a saw, you should think about its field of application. As you can see in the table of the five different types of Japanese saws, a different model is suitable depending on the area of application. The area of application is very important, as it allows you to exclude some models of Japanese saw and thus find the right Japanese saw for you.

Toothing

Each model of Japanese saw has a different type of toothing. Depending on the application, you will need different teeth.

Longitudinal cuts, for example, require different toothing than cross cuts.

In the following, we will introduce you to the three typical toothing types:

  • Triangular toothing: The triangular toothing is a toothing of interlocked teeth. The shape of the individual teeth is comparable to a V. Triangular toothing is particularly suitable for longitudinal cuts. A disadvantage of this toothing is that the cutting quality is not quite as accurate as with other toothing types.
  • Trapezoidal toothing: Trapezoidal toothing is characterised by an alternating bevel and three cutting fibres that run separately and form the shape of a trapezoid. The toothing is characterised by the fact that it is razor-sharp. It should also be noted that although this type of toothing can be used in tension and compression, it is worthwhile to load the saw only in tension. The trapezoidal toothing is very precise, so you can produce a perfect result without reworking. This type of toothing is particularly suitable for diagonal cuts and cross cuts, as the cut quality is very precise.
  • Universal toothing: The universal toothing is a combination of the triangular toothing and the trapezoidal toothing. Universal toothing is therefore suitable for longitudinal, cross and diagonal cuts.

Which toothing is ultimately suitable for you depends entirely on the cuts you want to make and the area in which you want to use the Japanese saw.

Handle

The handle is usually a traditional wooden handle that is very long and light. This makes it possible to make cuts without exerting too much force. The handles of cheaper models are made of plastic. When buying, it is important to make sure that the handle is breathable to minimise sweaty hands and thus the risk of injury.

Facts worth knowing about the Japanese saw

In the next section we will give you some more useful aspects about the Japanese saw.

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There is a lot of interesting information that will make your life easier, so that you will see the light.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Fach Marín)

How to change the saw blade on a Japanese saw ?

As we already mentioned in the section "How does a Japanese saw work?", you can change the saw blades of a (modern) Japanese saw quickly and easily. To do this, you have to separate the handle and the saw blade. The easiest way is to hold the saw blade carefully and tap the handle on a piece of wood.

The pressure of the handle on the piece of wood will loosen the handle from the anchoring of the screw. In the next step, you can simply hook the new saw blade into the hook and tap it firmly on the piece of wood again. This pressure pushes the saw blade into the right place so that it sits firmly again.

Which accessories are recommended for Japanese saws?

  1. Sets: Some suppliers offer Japanese saws as sets, so you can buy different tool options already in a bundle.
  2. Wrap: For safe transport, we recommend a wrap. You can wrap the Japanese saw in the wrap and easily take it with you everywhere.
  3. Cuttingdrawer: Another useful accessory is a cutting drawer, which is also available in different versions.

How do you properly care for a Japanese saw?

If you take good care of your Japanese saw, you will be able to use it forever. It is very important that you take care that there are no nails or stones in the workpiece or that you do not accidentally cut through them with your saw.

If you do not use your Japanese saw for a long time, rust may form. To prevent this rust, you should oil your Japanese saw regularly. However, it is important that you do not leave an oil trail when using your Japanese saw. This is because the oil will leave stains on your workpiece.

Image source: Aenin/ 123rf.com

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