Review: Pax tenon saw

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Review: Robert Howard

The tenon saw is the largest of the back saws intended for freehand use (some mitre box backsaws are bigger). There does not seem to be any commonly known reasons for the many different types of backsaws, but it is probably fair to say that in the days when handsaws were used a lot, anyone who worked at a specific job would know exactly what type of saw was best suited to it. For the casual user, a difference of a few centimetres in length would not matter, but if you used the saw constantly to do one thing, such as cut tenons in window sashes, then it might.

All Pax tenon saws are available in both rip and crosscut configurations. The one I have has crosscut teeth sharpened with a negative rake of 8°–9°. This is a more aggressive angle than the Pax crosscut dovetail saws, but does not seem to make the saw any more difficult to start in the cut.

The blade thickness of the saw is 0.0234 inches (0.059mm), with a set each side of about 0.0075 inches (0.019mm). The maximum possible depth of cut is 77mm (3").

The brass back is thick and heavy enough to drive the saw down into the cut, as well as to provide the required stiffening of the blade. As with the Pax dovetail saws, the brass has been bent around the blade and clenched to fix it to the blade.
The handle is European beech with painted edges, and although not as beautiful or fine as the handles of old, it is nevertheless superior to any on saws commonly sold today.

The saw works well, though as expected has a coarser feel than the finer dovetail saws. For fine work with dry wood I would carefully stone some of the set off the teeth, and I would buy the saw with rip rather than crosscut teeth.

At around $196, it costs a substantial sum of money but is still good value. The main competition to it these days is not other tenon saws, but rather bandsaws and tablesaws, which, in my experience at least, tend to be used for any work not done with a dovetail saw.

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