Suizan Japanese Hand Saws

Excellent quality hand saws at competitive prices.

Suizan Japanese Hand Saws

Suizan Japanese Hand Saws

MODEL:9-1/2" Dozuki
9-1/2" Ryoba
PRICE:$64.99 - 9-1/2" Dozuki
$59.99 - 9-1/2" Ryoba
Overall Length:20-1/2" - Dozuki
24" - Ryobi
Teeth /Inch:30 - Dozuki
9 and 15 - Ryoba
Blade Thickness:.008" - Dozuki
.02" - Ryoba
Kerf Width:.012" - Dozuki
.03" - Ryoba

Japanese hand saws (nokogiri) are now widely available from most tool retailers. While the choices were initially fairly limited, and prices quite high, things have changed quite a bit over the past couple of decades. More Japanese companies are now selling their products either directly to the consumer over the internet or through specialized resellers, and prices have reached the 'I can afford that tool' level.

Suizan, based in Sanjo in the Niigata prefecture of Japan, is one such company. They've been in business for over 100 years, and produce a line of Dozuki and Ryoba saws. While you can order directly from the company, they do have a dealer in Canada –

If you've not used a Japanese saw before you'll find them quite different from Western saws. The blades are considerably thinner and they have less set, resulting in a narrower kerf. They also use a harder steel which makes the teeth more brittle. The small, impulse hardened teeth (made by a high frequency heating technique that instantly heats and hardens the teeth) are more difficult to sharpen. Once the teeth dull the blade is typically replaced. You’ll also notice that Japanese saws are appreciably lighter than Western saws of equivalent size. While the top end Japanese saws are still made by hand, more conventional Japanese saws, like the Suizan, are made by a combination of machine and handwork.

All Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke. They require a more delicate approach than Western saws but they cut faster with less energy output on the part of the user. However, it’s important to let the saw do the work. Trying to rush through a cut can result in the blade wandering or worse, binding when you push the blade backwards to being a new pull stroke. I find it helps to score a cut line on my stock with a making knife before beginning to saw. This gets the saw started on a straight cut. I then make smooth, unrushed strokes.

The Suizan Dozuki saws come with replaceable blades in 6", 8" and 9-1/2" lengths and come in a protective clear plastic case. They have a metal back spine that adds rigidity to the blade, feature 30 impulse hardened teeth per inch, and leave a kerf that's a mere .012" wide, making them perfect for dovetails and other fine joinery work. Depth of cut is about 2-1/4". The cuts made by these three saws were very impressive, whether in hardwood or softwood.

The Ryoba saw is available only in a 9-1/2" length with an overall length of about 24". It has 15 crosscut teeth on one side and 9 rip teeth on the other, making it suitable for general purpose sawing. The kerf is wider than that produced by the Dozuki saw, but at .03" still narrower than what you'd get with many Western-style hand saws. Because it doesn't have a spine you can cut through stock of any thickness. You'll find that the flexible blade makes it ideal for trimming dowels or through tenons. While it does take some practice to get the knack of using a Ryoba, you'll find that because you pull the saw through the cut you can make straighter cuts with greater accuracy than with a Western saw. It can help to deeply score the cut line before you begin the cut, and to develop a smooth even stroke rhythm.

Both Suizan saws were a pleasure to use, and their priced very competitively. If you're looking to move into Japanese-style pull saws, then you won't go wrong with a Suizan.

Photo Gallery

Top: Dozuki; Bottom: Ryoba

Top: Dozuki handle; Bottom: Ryoba handle

Top: Dozuki blade; Bottom: Ryoba blade

Top: Dozuki 30 teeth per inch; Middle: Ryoba 15 teeth per inch); Bottom: Ryoba 9 teeth per inch

Left: Dozuki kerf; Middle: Ryoba 15 tpi kerf: Right: Ryoba 9 tip kerf

The Dozuki is ideal for dovetails and fine rip and cross cuts

The Ryoba is for general purpose rip and cross cutting

Carl Duguay
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