What is the Best Dovetail Saw? Brands for Beginners and Pros (2023)

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Dovetail joints are a true sign of quality and craftsmanship, but if you use a poorly made saw with teeth that easily bend or fall off, you risk ruining your project and materials. 

Here, our professional woodworkers will share their best dovetail saw picks they’ve used over the years and how to choose the best one that’s suitable for your needs.

Premium Option
Dozuki “Z” Saw
Editor’s Choice
Gyokucho Ryoba
Budget Option
Suizan Japanese Dozuki
Dozuki “Z” Saw
Gyokucho Ryoba
Suizan Japanese Dozuki
• Carbon steel
• Precision joinery
• 5.9-inch blade
• 26 TPI
• Impulse hardened
• 9.4-inch blade
• Rattan handle
• 21 TPI
• Japanese Steel
• 6-inch blade
• Narrow Kerf
• 25 TPI
Premium Option
Dozuki “Z” Saw
Dozuki “Z” Saw
• Carbon steel
• Precision joinery
• 5.9-inch blade
• 26 TPI
Editor’s Choice
Gyokucho Ryoba
Gyokucho Ryoba
• Impulse hardened
• 9.4-inch blade
• Rattan handle
• 21 TPI
Budget Option
Suizan Japanese Dozuki
Suizan Japanese Dozuki
• Japanese Steel
• 6-inch blade
• Narrow Kerf
• 25 TPI

Reviews of the Top Dovetail Saws

1. Gyokucho Ryoba 9-1/2" Double Edge Razor Saw

The Gyokucho 9-½” Ryoba Razor Saw Dovetail Saw is one of the best for its efficient and butter-smooth cuts. This updated version of this traditional Japanese pull-stroke saw features a double-sided blade for various precise cuts. 

Gyokucho is the powerhouse of Japanese saws, and both pros and novices are avid users of their products. That said, we recommended using this one as your “starting” saw if you are new to sawing by hand utilizing the pull stroke. 

This saw’s two distinct rows of teeth make it easy to tell whether or not it is designed for ripping or crosscutting. With regular maintenance, the impulse-hardened teeth on this saw will survive for decades. 

What We Like

What We Don't Like

2. Z-Saw Dozuki

Our runner-up pick is the Z-saw Dozuki. The sturdy back handle guarantees a solid hold on the high-carbon steel composition of the blade, which may be taken out and replaced or cleaned with ease.

The spine’s construction allows for clean, precise, and lengthy crosscuts, which is why it is the best dovetail saw for precision joinery. The included handle is comfortable to hold and can be swapped out for a new one when it wears out. 

The Z-saw Dozuki blade is 0.3mm thick of high-carbon steel, which creates less friction and resistance during the pull phase of the cutting stroke, allowing for a clean cut and keeping the blade in a straight line.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

3. SUIZAN Japanese Dozuki Dovetail Hand Saw 6-inch Pull Saw

Many woodworkers favor the Suizan Japanese pull saw’s precision in making tiny slices. The saw’s narrow blade is reinforced by a robust back rib, much like a traditional western backsaw.

With the 25-tooth count or TPI and a .012-inch wide blade, the Suizan Japanese Dozuki Hand Saw can cut with remarkable precision and speed. The blade is barely six inches long, yet the long grip gives you complete control.

Excellent but fragile, the Japanese blade on the Suizan dovetail handsaw is a cut above the rest. You don’t need a lot of energy with this saw, and it will provide you with an extremely precise and smooth cut.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

4. IRWIN Dovetail Saw, 7-1/4-Inch (213104)

The IRWIN Tools 213104  has a flexible blade that measures 7-1/4 inches with a polymer handle that is both pleasant and durable. 

The tooth count is 22, and it’s razor sharp. We tried it out and it worked great for cuts of all sorts and especially good for interior design. The entire length of the Irwin Tools 213104 measures about 14.5″, making it incredibly portable and convenient. 

The blade is released with a button, setting it unique from similar designs and making swapping out the less effective one a breeze.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

5. Rob Cosman's Dovetail Saw, Black Resin

Rob Cosman is a well-liked professional carpenter and instructor who invented this saw among young woodworkers. This particular saw has a distinctive style with a robust traditional brass back wherein you can make better cuts because of the downward pressure provided by this additional weight.

Additionally, this Rob Cosman Dovetail Saw has a tooth pattern with variable pitch. The teeth towards the saw’s end have a TPI of 22 to make cutting easier, while the teeth close to the handle have a TPI of 15, allowing the saw to cut through more material per stroke.

Rob Cosman’s storage is more sophisticated than the other instrument. This model includes a personalized walnut and poplar holster, making it aesthetically pleasing.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

6. Robert Larson Two Cherries 520-6020 10-Inch Brass Back Dovetail Saw

This Robert Larson Two Cherries 520-6020 Dovetail Saw has a substantial, pre-sharpened 10-inch long blade. It is made of German steel with a 15-inch TPI that can last for years. The saw also has an appealing appearance and a comfy wooden handle.

The 10″ Brass Two Cherries Dovetail Saw has a blade that is offset from the handle’s center so that cuts may be made. In addition, the walnut handle can be turned to either side to provide more room for your fingers. 

This is a fantastic choice for making door thresholds and floor transitions seamless. You can cut steadier and straighter because of the brass backing.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

7. Okada Japanese Mini Dozuki Panel Saw

If this is your first time using a Japanese saw for your woodworking projects, we highly recommend the Okada Mini Dozuki Panel Saw. The saw works well for cutting and scoring veneer or panels despite its short length.

It features a blade that makes precise cuts. The blade’s teeth are extremely sharp and cut with a thin kerf. Because of its rigidity, the blade is excellent for cutting dovetails. You can even effectively cut hardwoods like maple with this saw.

It doesn’t make any noise from spinning blades or jigs. In addition to having excellent performance, it is particularly effective for silent woodworking.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

Dovetail Saws Buyer’s Guide

What is a Dovetail Saw and Why Do You Need It?

Accurate woodworking requires a dovetail saw, the most commonly purchased backsaw with fine teeth, a straight grip, and a narrow blade. The dovetail joint is the most common type of junction created with this tool, hence the name.

Dovetail joints are created with a dovetail saw in which two pieces of wood, notably hard and softwood, must fit together.

These dovetail or rigid back saws are used in situations requiring exceptionally fine cuts or a new result. It features a rip tooth configuration for slicing with the grain and can also make clean, accurate cuts across.

The primary difference between a dovetail saw and a tenon saw is the dovetail saw’s narrower blade and higher tooth density.

Different Dovetail Saw Types

Dovetail/Tenon Saw

The backsaw’s many offshoots include the tenon saw and the dovetail saw. They’re analogous since both have thin blades, a solid back for support, and a rip-cut pattern.

The dovetail saw is significantly shorter than a conventional saw, making it more manageable for one person to use. Dovetails differ from tenon saws by having a higher TPI or teeth per inch and a thinner blade.

Although each tool is purpose-built, the tenon saw has more versatility thanks to its size and special characteristics, allowing it to cut not only dovetails but also other types of joints. Many experienced woodworkers recommend a tenon saw to novices because of its versatility and ease of use when cutting dovetails.

Ryoba

The Japanese Ryoba saw is another style we’ll discuss. The aesthetic here is reminiscent of a Dozuki in some ways. Following the conventions of eastern design, it, too, has a long, straight handle instead of a pistol grip.

This style lacks Dozuki’s characteristically stiff back. Instead, it has a second row of teeth, which makes it suitable for more than one task. The Ryoba has cross-cut teeth at one end and rip-cut teeth at the other. 

It is not the best Japanese handsaw for making dovetails, but beginners widely use it because of its adaptability and ease of use.

Dozuki

There are many similarities between a western saw and a Japanese Dozuki saw. A Dozuki is similar to a conventional knife because it has a solid back and a narrow blade for cutting. 

While the Dozuki and the Tanto take advantage of this quality, the Dozuki’s blade is often sharper and narrower. Due to this quality, Japanese saws have gained legendary status among artisans who work with wood. Warning: many of them have a crisscross pattern, so be cautious in your choice.

The handle design of Dozuki and other Japanese saws is the most defining feature of these tools. The Dozuki has an unusually long, straight handle instead of the standard pistol grip. 

Because of this, understanding the tool can be difficult, but many users report feeling more in control.

Design and Style

Dovetail joints can be pretty difficult to work on. Modern consumers also consider the cost while making a purchase. Others may be interested in incorporating a traditional style into your work, while the rest of you may be drawn to a more sophisticated and up-to-date aesthetic. It’s all up to personal preference and has less to do with the saw works.

Dovetail saws come in three primary varieties: the Western backsaw, the Japanese pull saw, and the reciprocating saw. Each of these saws has a unique purpose. On the other hand, you’re free to choose a mode that best suits your tastes.

A typical Western saw is better for novices because it is more user-friendly, while a Japanese-style saw is ideal for mediators due to its great efficiency and precision. A dovetail, on the other hand, is ideal for experts due to its extraordinary adaptability and speed.

Blade Quality and Design

Our professionals suggest ensuring the blade has a high enough TPI and is thin. The best TPI to use is determined by the substrate. In general, 14 TPI works well for materials between half an inch and seven-eighths of an inch in thickness, whereas 20 TPI works well for anything half an inch or smaller. As a result, consider purchasing multiple saws to have options.

In addition, you should go with something other than a saw that cuts in a crosswise direction. Despite the claims of many products having a cross-cut design, you’ll probably only ever use them for trimming, not producing dovetails. 

A rip-cut saw is what you need if you want to make cuts parallel to the grain, while this model is intended for cutting across it.

Blade Replacements

Finding cutting tools with a blade that you can swap out is essential if you are a professional woodworker. 

A saw with a removable blade is preferable, especially if the handle improves the tool’s usability. As a bonus, this method works well for serrated blades with more pronounced serrations.

Teeth Per Inch

TPI or teeth per inch, measure how many teeth are on a blade. Teeth that are closer together provide a smooth cut, whereas teeth that are wider spread can take out wood quickly and cut considerably more efficiently, albeit at the expense of leaving some jagged scars.

Saw blades for dovetailing have 12 to 22 TPI. Nowadays, many tools have a changeable TPI, which implies that the teeth near the handle are spaced far apart than those farther from the blade.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Long periods spent running a saw lacking practical features can be tedious. A good saw’s handle should be comfortable to hold.

Dovetails on saw handles are many, yet they all lie within a small radius of one another. The handles of most dovetail saws are constructed of wood, making them long-lasting and adaptable tools.

A few of the saws even have the normal handle and are otherwise identical to regular hand saws.

Frequency of Use

You don’t have to drop much cash on the most cutting-edge model if you require a glue saw for an occasional or one-off woodworking project. However, if a tight budget does not limit you, any of the simple dovetail saws will do the trick.

If, however, you want to have this saw in your toolkit indefinitely and use it frequently, you will likely feel free to spend more money on a higher-quality model that will serve you well for many years.

Precision

When using dovetail saws, the first and most important step is getting the cutting started. Only some saws have the same speedy initial cutting performance. You may achieve this look with a saw that has thinner teeth, often in the 18 TPI range.

Some saws may be difficult to get going, but they make quicker, thinner inserts once you get going. And if the little time it takes to make a clean-cut isn’t to your liking, there are plenty of other options.

Value for Money

Dovetail saws can range in price from very cheap to relatively inexpensive. However, a high-quality dovetail saw will be costly.

Remember that you should only choose the best dovetail or a long-lasting tool when determining your budget and selecting.

Top-Rated Dovetail Saw Brands

Suizan

Suizan had become a leading global provider of precision handheld equipment, having created an extensive line of woodworking products. The Suizan Dozuki Dovetail Hand Saw is a best-seller for this company.

Gyokucho

Since the brand’s products are versatile enough to be used in both woodworking and industrial settings, this Japanese manufacturer continues to enjoy widespread acclaim. Gyokucho Razorsaw Ryoba is one of its best dovetail products.

Irwin Tools

The doors of Irwin, which opened in North Carolina in 1885, are still open today. This power tools manufacturer started small but has now become an industry giant worldwide. The Irwin Dovetail Saw is one of the best-selling items there.

Dovetail Saw vs. Tenon Saw: What’s the Difference?

In a catalog or shop window, many different kinds of dovetail and tenon saws can start to appear the same. The distinct variations between each saw become clearer if you consider the joinery they are meant to produce.

You can utilize both a tenon saw and a dovetail saw to construct either joint, but each saw has unique characteristics that make it more efficient for its intended use.

The tenon saw’s smaller brother is the dovetail saw, or so the story goes. Dovetail and tenon saws may look identical, but dovetail saws have narrower blades with more TPI; thus, they cut less material at once than most saws.

For a dovetail joint, you’ll need to create extremely precise and small cuts, and the slower you work, the more control you’ll have over each stroke.

How to Use a Dovetail Saw

Push or Pull?

Dovetail saws are capable of cutting on both the push and pull strokes. Saws that only chops on the push stroke or “push saws” require more force to be applied while pushing it into the material.

Forcing oneself to pull a saw is necessary if using a pull saw. However, if you have to put in a lot of effort while pulling the saw, it will get the job done much faster, but you’ll end up exhausted.

Mark the Area

Once everything is in place, you’ll need to draw a line where you plan to saw. Some people lay the blade on their thumb, positioning it along the line they wish to cut.

It aids in managing the tool, but you must handle it with extreme care.

Place the Saw on The Surface

Initially, lightly touch the blade of the saw to the surface while holding the saw at a right angle to the table.

Start Cutting

Then, in one steady and deliberate motion, move the saw towards you while exerting very light downward pressure.

Keep Going

The sawing procedure will get less difficult as you progress. But first, you should take it easy and make little strokes with the saw to avoid wandering.

Tips for Dovetail Saw Care and Maintenance

Our Top Pick For a Dovetail Saw:
Gyokucho Ryoba 9-1/2" Double Edge Razor Saw

Our top pick for the best dovetail saw is the Gyokucho 9-½” Ryoba Razorsaw Saw, a flexible saw designed to handle various woodworking tasks. It is more useful to many skilled woodworkers and has teeth [1] that have been tooth-hardened in its construction. 

It is a great dovetail saw made with high-quality, long-lasting materials that make the tool more robust than other standard dovetail saws.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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