Buying a Sawset

Paul recommends buying a secondhand sawset as they are cheaper and rarely wear out, these are readily found on eBay and also in secondhand outlets such as flea markets and car boot sales. When buying a secondhand sawset, check there is a spring in between the sawset handles before purchasing. Avoid Eclipse plastic handled sawsets as they flex too much, Paul uses both the Eclipse and Somax brands of all-metal sawset.

Secondhand Eclipse sawsets come in only one size and you can expect to pay £10-20 for one.

If you want to buy a new one, these are considerably more expensive. You can buy a Somax which are Japanese copies of the Eclipse. Somax sawsets come in 2 sizes, one is for smaller teeth and one for larger teeth. If you buy a Somax then we recommend the smaller size as this can set all the more generally sized saw teeth whereas the larger one cannot be used to set smaller teeth. If you can only buy a larger Somax model, see Paul’s blog on refining a sawset, which shows you how to alter the size of the hammer in the sawset.

Update October 2021

🇺🇸 Paul recommends this one for $52.99*. Please note this meets the specification but hasn’t been tried out by Paul.

*Price checked October 2022

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  1. For those of us in the US it is difficult to locate a Somax or an Eclipse saw set. On eBay most of the Eclipse and Somax saw sets are from UK sellers and the shipping costs rival the cost of the tool itself. There are a number of saw sets on eBay from other manufacturers, predominant among which are Stanley made ones. Are there any US made saw sets that you would recommend ?

    By the way, I truly love the wisdom and information that you share with us about purchasing tools. This is my first stop when i am trying to decide which tool to purchase. I particularly appreciate the frugality when it comes to the recommendations that you make. How refreshing in an age of mass marketing. to put people first.

    1. Hi Izzy,

      I just purchased the small “Blue:” Somax from Lee Valley. However, they were and are listed as not available now. I emailed LV and as usual received a prompt reply stating that Somax has gone out of business and LV has no replacement at this time. However, they offered to look and see if there was one in a store on the mainland which they did and I received mine in a few days. I believe One Tools in Germany still has the larger 4-12 teeth “gold” one but haven’t tried to order one.

      Warmest Regards,
      newfoundland, canada

    2. David,

      I only have one set, a Stanley 42, which I picked up a while back on eBay NIB for $20. While I have nothing else to compare it to, I love it. On the various forums, most users laud the 42X.

      About a year ago when I was trying to source one, I searched Paul’s site for any comments on the 42, but at that time I didn’t find anything written about it.

    3. Hi David,

      Since your comment we have researched several new sawsets to see if this was an option but Paul wasn’t happy with the performance when tested and therefore we would not recommend them.

      Paul still would recommend looking for a secondhand Eclipse or Somax.

      Kind Regards,

  2. Hi all,

    I just purchased a Somax “Blue” small saw set from Lee Valley. I called and spoke to customer service person since they say no longer available on their web site. They were very helpful as usual and located one from a store front and shipped it to me. I was blessed.
    I’m not sure if they can do this again as they had to locate one in stock from a remote location. They also said that Somax had gone out of business and that they did not have another source at this time. I believe fine tools in Germany has the “gold” large model.

    Hope this helps,

    1. Hi Samuel,

      Paul says:
      If they are too wide for the small teeth they must be adjusted. The question for me is, is the steel used for the hammer up to the task or could it be too brittle in a smaller size? The only way to find out is to try it.

      Kind Regards,

  3. I wanted to thank Samuel for his post. It is a little difficult to buy a quality saw. Details like what he mentioned about the Eclipse 77 really helps when looking for used tools on eBay. Thanks again 👍

  4. I’m totally new to woodworking, but want to get into it as I always enjoyed working with wood and building things..
    As I am getting some tools together, i am now considering buying saws. To cut straight to the core: what is Paul’s opinion on Japanese saws (and saw sets)?

  5. Hello, has Paul tried the new Eclipse 77 saw set by spear and jackson, sold by Highland Woodworking? It would be nice to have a new option as a backup if a good vintage is hard to find. I believe thats the one that is linked that said he’d recommend that one as new, but hasn’t tried it out yet. Thank you!

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