Buying a Panel Saw
When choosing a saw, a second hand one can last you years if it has been well looked after, however you should be prepared to sharpen them as they often will arrive dull. Check to see if it has more than 4 teeth missing, severe rust or corrosion avoid purchasing. Spear & Jackson, Garlick, Pax and Disston are great secondhand brands to look out for. We wouldn’t recommend buying a Canadian Disston saw as the plates are too thick and the handles are clunky, look out for the Disston USA version as Paul says these were some of the best saws ever made. You can also buy both ripcut and crosscut saws new which are ready to use.
Look for a 20-22” (508- 559 mm) panel saw with 8 or 10 PPI as this is a great all rounder, they should cost between £20-40 each. Before you purchase, check in the description that the saw is not a ‘hardpoint’ saw. Hardpoint teeth cannot be resharpened so this is considered a ‘disposable’ saw with a limited lifetime. Another indicator of a disposable saw is usually a plastic handle, the saws with wooden handles tend to be ones you can sharpen but the cheaper handles made of plastic are usually used for hardpoint saws. You might come across a skew back saw, this is where the ridge (or back) of the saw is slightly dipped. This allows you to correct and adjust your path, more so than a straight-backed saw.
🇬🇧 We purchased this from eBay for £19.99 with free delivery.* 🇺🇸 If you are ordering from the US, we found it on Amazon.com.
*Prices correct as of December 2017
I’ve bought a few panel saws (from eBay and Amazon) and had to return them all due to either bent plates or incorrect tooth shape listing, i.e., listed as crosscut but arrived with rip cut. Do you have any recommendations for locations to get reputable products?
Thank you for your comment.
We recommend the Spear and Jackson 20” 10 PPI (we got ours from Ebay but they sell it on other sites too). They arrive as a crosscut saw though they may well be called a universal cut in some places.
The overall cost of the Spear & Jackson 9500R will be 32 to 40 USD delivered in Germany depending on from where the saw is sent.
A 20″ RIP OR CROSSCUT WILLIAM GREAVES Handsaw made by Thomas Flinn can be purchased in BERLIN FOR 39 Euro (45 USD) or a 26″ saw for 45 EURO (52 USD)
It is true that I will need two saws instead of one “universal” S & J saw but if it is a good quality it is a saw for the whole life.
Can you offer any advise on this WILLIAM GREAVES Handsaw made by Thomas Flinn ?
Thank you for your comment.
Paul says Thomas Flinn do make good saws, however he prefers to buy second hand saws and Spear and Jackson saws because he’s tested them over a lengthy period and has found them to be an excellent quality saw.
The William Greaves saw has a “flat ground plate” which means the teeth have a wider set( more of a bend) to create a slightly wider cut than the plate/ blade thickness. This is to prevent the saw from jamming.
Better saws have a “taper ground “ plate. This is thinner at the top and front than it is at the back and bottom. This allows a finer set on the teeth without the saw jamming. This reduces sawing effort.
If you pay a little bit more , the Lynx brand from Thomas Flynn give a tapered blade . Their more expensive brands have slightly posher handles but they are all flat pieces of timber, shaped by a router.
In my humble opinion, the Lynx is the best value for money.
The Spear and Jackson saws are all cross cut but Paul has a video showing how to convert to rip cut in a few minutes. These are good saws with taper blades. The handle is heartbreakingly ugly
Flynn make saws for the Footprint brand and I have only seen new tenon saws. Footprint panel saws are available second hand and they are good.
Is there any way Paul could recommend some rip saw?
Although this Spear & Jackson saw can work for rip cuts, I find it extremely difficult, especially for resawing. Resawing actually proved almost impossible on some beech wood I was working with.
I am aware that Paul wanted to list here only the most essential tools, but could he provide some input for those who wish to expand a bit. Thank you
Pauls says the Spear & Jackson saw is intended as a combination saw so supposedly for rip and crosscut. However, this does not work well. We sharpen the saw for a ripcut (See Paul’s YouTube video here) and this makes this saw work as well as any saw I could recommend.
I am completely new to woodworking and I just bought this Spear & Jackson saw with the intention to build my own trestles first and eventually Paul’s bench. Trying the saw on crosscuts it gets stuck a fair bit on the push strokes especially at the start of the cut however the teeth look pretty well set for crosscut. I was wondering if this saw needs sharpening before using or needs another setting or both? Or maybe my technique is simply really poor…;-)
Thanks for your help.
Often new saws have too much set, in your case it may not have enough set. However that is very, very rare so my feeling is that it could be your technique or the wood you’re using.
I suggest trying the saw on some ¾” pine across the grain held in the vise with a very loose flexible stroke, rather than any rigid bulldogging. If the saw flows into the wood, then the set is fine. If you still find it binding, it could be one of two things, either there is not enough set or you’re failing to maintain a straight cut across the wood.
Re: comment from above from – toolnut on 6 January 2019 at 10:19 pm regarding converting a cross-cut saw to rip cut, you can see this at the YouTube video:
Handsaw Comparisons | Paul Sellers
The Spear and Jackson 9500 seem to be unavailable to me here on my side of the Atlantic. However a 7PPI saw is available so I was wondering if 7 teeth per inch would be too course for a rip saw?
Unfortunately, the Spear & Jackson traditional saws (9500R and 9515K) have not been available in the U.S. for some time now. Are they still available in the U.K. (or elsewhere) or are they no longer available globally?
I did grab one of each earlier this year and was very pleased with them. I wanted to grab a second set, but they are nowhere to be found.
Another saw I would recommend for those just starting out is available at Harbor Freight. It’s described on their website as “ 18 inch Handsaw with Wood Handle.” Its item number is 01321 and is $6.99 plus tax. It is a 7 TPI rip saw. You’ll need to fettle the teeth most likely and reshape and refinish the handle to your liking. I’ve owned it for 5 years and it’s great.