Buying a Tenon Saw

Paul Sellers recommends a 12” tenon saw with 14-16 PPI. You can get brass-backed or steel-backed ones, the steel-backed saws are slightly lighter in weight so it is down to personal preference, however Paul says most experienced craftsman ultimately use a brass-backed. 🇬🇧/🇺🇸You can buy these new online for approximately £30-40, we found this Spear and Jackson one on Amazon which can also be ordered from the US. Paul suggests that as a beginner you buy a new one of these until you feel confident enough setting up and sharpening a secondhand one. When you are ready for that, look on eBay for brands such as Spear & Jackson, Garlick, Pax, and Disston . When buying a second hand saw, both a steel back and brass back are good. Ensure there is no severe rust corrosion like pitting as this can result in hole through the saw plate, most light rust can be sanded away, also check that there aren’t a lot of teeth missing (more than 4 missing is too many).

We purchased this from eBay for £18.50 with £3.80 delivery.*

*Prices correct as of December 2017


  1. David on 23 April 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I believe I already saw this elsewhere, but I’m curious about what brands you recommend for people in North America. I’m sure it’s on the list of things to add. Looking forward to it!

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 24 April 2018 at 8:41 am

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment.

      This is something we are looking forward to adding to the site in the future.


  2. António on 24 July 2018 at 10:39 am

    Hi there to you all!

    I want to upgrade my plastic handle/harden teeth saw, so I’m saving to buy a proper dovetail and tenon saw.

    I was under the impression that some time ago Paul Sellers also made a recommendation about the Veritas saws.
    I understand things may change… Is this a more affordable/available option with a very similar performance?
    Thanks in advance for your time

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 30 July 2018 at 10:00 am

      Hi António,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Paul would still recommend a Veritas saw if you were after a new one as these are not usually available second hand. However, not all new saws are sharpened to the same standard so this may still need sharpening.

      Kind Regards,

  3. Francisco Perez Roig on 18 July 2019 at 11:57 am

    I just bought the spear and Jackson tenon saw suggested and thought I drop a line about it.
    I’m a new woodworker but something feels wrong. Teeth are set in the following manner, one to the right , one straight, one to the left. Is this a common arrangement? Anyway, they don’t seem to be sharp at all, and the saw jumps all the time cutting soft woods.
    Is this just fine, and should I sharpen the saw even if the saw is new?


    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 19 July 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Fran,

      Paul says:
      My experience is that the teeth do need sharpening from new and that the teeth have too much set. To reduce set, put a hammer in the vice, place the saw horizontally on top with the teeth centred on the face of the hammer and start lightly tapping all the way along the teeth using a second hammer, see the following guide for a picture:

      Kind Regards,

  4. Francisco Perez Roig on 19 July 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Great thank you Izzy, will do.
    Best regards,

  5. Scotty72 on 10 October 2020 at 10:42 am

    Apparently the only difference between the reccomended Spear & Jackson tenon saw and the dovetail saw is 2” in length. If that is so, as a first saw, wich one should I buy, or do I really need both?
    Thanks and congratulations on the great website.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 21 October 2020 at 3:09 pm

      Hi Jose,

      Paul says:
      The dovetail saw would be more practical of the two because you can cut tenons as well as dovetails.

      Kind Regards,

  6. Scotty72 on 21 October 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Ok, that will be the first, then.
    Thank you, very much.

  7. Kevin Drevik on 24 March 2021 at 6:55 pm

    What would be a good first backed saw, a Carcass saw (filed crosscut) or a dovetail saw, filed rip? Please assume I can only get one to start.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 30 June 2021 at 9:57 am

      Hi Kevin,

      Paul says:
      Definitely the dovetail saw as you can both rip and crosscut with the same saw.


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