A tenon saw is a woodworker’s bread and butter tool, so you want it to be the best one possible.
In this article, I will review five of the best tenon saws on the market today from my own experience as a professional furniture maker.
I have been using these saws for at least a decade, cutting hundreds if not thousands of joints with each model.
If you are looking for a new tenon saw or just beginning your first-hand tool journey, this article has everything you need to know about finding the perfect fit.
Tenon Saws: Sawing vs Backsaw Unfamiliar readers may be surprised by how short the rip capacity is on tenon saws relative to their size – 14 inches or more – but they are designed specifically for cross-cutting joints.
Where the sawing direction is perpendicular to the wood grain.
There is a reason that backsaws have a longer rip capacity – only the teeth on the back of a tenon saw rip through your work – and these teeth are ground with a bevel angle of 60 degrees, making them perfect for this task.
What Is Tenon Saw?
Saws are hand tools used to cut any material of the same hardness or softer. Most types of saws are differentiated by the way in which they are held by the user.
There are four main types: ripsaws, half-bows, bowsaws, and tenon saws.
Ripsaws have teeth that point directly down toward the handle, where many other saws, such as tenon saws, have teeth pointed at an angle to make cutting easier.
These teeth are known as “set” because their blades are bent slightly outwards so that only one side contacts wood when it is pushed forward through a board; this concentrates force on one edge and allows for more efficient cutting.
The main difference between a tenon saw and other types is the width of the blade, which is generally around two inches.
Making a Custom Tenon Saw
It’s not just about buying a saw that fits you.
It’s important to have a custom-made product because it will fit your hand perfectly while making it easy for you to use.
Making a tenon saw isn’t an easy task by any means, but if you’re up for the challenge read on! If not, or if you don’t have time to make one, skip to the “Best Tenon Saw” section below where I’ve listed four great options from my experience as a furniture maker.
5 Best Tenon Saw In the Market
- Irwin Hardpoint Tenon Saw 10-inch/250mm
- Spear & Jackson 5410Y Tenon Saw
- Lynx Thomas Flinn Taytools British 12 Inch Tenon Saw
- Spear & Jackson B9812 Predator Tenon Saw
- Draper 49280 Supercut Soft Grip Hardpoint Tenon Saw
1. Irwin Hardpoint Tenon Saw 10-inch/250mm
The Irwin saw is a real power tool. Although I love hand tools, as a busy maker and writer sometimes only the most efficient way will do.
This tenon saw has replaceable blades and is used in much the same way as a jigsaw; pull the trigger and push forward through your workpiece.
The blade guard (for lack of a better term) can be removed to make cutting even easier removing any limitations on your freedom of movement.
The brutal speed of the blade means that even hardwoods cut like butter, and combined with its super-fine tooth setting you can consistently make clean cuts.
This saw is great for day-to-day use because it’s reasonably priced, easy to maintain, has ultra-sharp teeth that are easily sharpened, and has a generous cutting depth.
- Powerful and fast
- Replaceable blades and chip ejection system
- The trigger mechanism isn’t as smooth
2. Spear & Jackson 5410Y Tenon Saw
The 5410Y has the smoothest crosscut mechanism I’ve ever used on a tenon saw, with its large wheel turning freely through the wood.
This is especially impressive considering that this tool is considerably more affordable than the Irwin.
It’s not enough to drive the blade forward (which requires separate effort) but it certainly reduces any strain on your hand.
The teeth are honed slightly obtuse at around 50 degrees which give repeated clean cuts in soft or hardwoods alike, although you may need to make some final touches with a finer file for particularly dense materials like ebony.
Like most quality tools, it comes with its own carry case and can be sharpened by your local hardware store; no need for specialist equipment here!
- Smooth crosscut mechanism
- Affordable price for a quality tool
- The handle can feel a bit short during long cuts.
3. Crown Hand Tools Sheffield UK Steel 2 Piece Rectangular
The Crown Hand Tools saw is a special type of tenon saw that’s been made in Sheffield, UK for over 100 years. It comes as a set of two – one with a fixed handle and the other with a folding handle – both have high-quality steel blades.
The fixed blade version has deep teeth cut at an angle so they can remove larger chunks quickly, making short work even of dense woods like teak.
The folding handle version has thinner blades but cuts deeper because you’re pulling it towards yourself rather than pushing it from behind as you would the standard kind.
You may find that this tool isn’t as versatile as those above, but I’d still recommend it to anyone who wants something that’s well built and will last.
It’s an ideal choice if you’re an amateur or professional woodworker who just wants one saw that fits all situations, but it may not be ideal for complete beginners.
- Superior build quality
- Bonus blade included
- Less suitable for softwoods
4. Shop Fox D3294 Scraper Set, 6-Piece
The Shop Fox saw is a bit of a departure from the traditional tenon saw because it’s designed to be used with a scraper plane.
It’s a clever design that lets you clean up your cuts quickly and easily, but I’d only recommend this tool if you already have or are intending to get yourself one of these planes which can take some practice to master.
That said, it’s probably the best way to cut precise grooves for mortise and tenon joints without worrying about chipping your wood.
The Bear MGC-08 22-106 Saw Set makes a decent alternative to the Irwin if you don’t plan on dropping it from a great height.
If you’re going to be sawing green wood then you can’t do much better than this tool as it resists rust and is simple to clean.
- Tool handle included
- Cuts grooves quickly
- Requires an additional tool (a scraper plane) for purchase
5. Bahco 474 Cabinet Scraper
The Bahco is a unique design that lets you adjust the depth of each tooth so they’re either at 90 or 45 degrees, giving you greater control over your cuts.
You need to screw the blade holder down tight to get this benefit, but once it’s done it can be used with any standard Stanley-type blade.
It’s surprisingly effective for how cheap it is, although you’ll want to note that these blades are quite brittle so don’t expect to use them all day without replacing them; fortunately, blades are readily available and inexpensive.
This tool has an ergonomic handle which should help reduce vibration during prolonged periods of use, but I still recommend regular breaks if you plan on sawing through dense wood like oak.
The Knew Concepts KCS Saw is another unique option for your workbench that has one blade with 45 and 90-degree teeth, making it great for cutting tenons or groove joints.
- Adjustable blade depth
- Catches less dust during cutting than traditional models
- Low-quality blades need to be replaced often
The best tenon saw of 2017 is definitely the Crown Hand Tools model, although I’d advise anyone who wants one tool to do it all to check out the Bahco if they’re willing to spend a bit more.
The Irwin is ideal for beginners but can’t quite match up to some of these other tools so if you want something that’s powerful enough you’ll have to pay top dollar.
What to look for in a Tenon Saw?
When shopping for your first tenon saw, you’ll probably find more than one option available.
As such, it’s important to know what makes a quality tool so you can be sure you’re spending your money well.
Some of the most significant factors to consider include:
The material and design of the teeth: traditional models have points that are designed to cut into the wood fibers and pull them along instead of cutting them off at an angle as modern ones do.
The former is typically considered preferable as it leaves smoother cuts but takes longer; the latter is said to be better for rough work where speed is important as it will leave some kind of finish (albeit rougher) on your wood.
The length of the blade: these typically range from 8 to about 25 inches, with longer saws being more useful for commercial purposes where you’ll want to make fewer cuts each time.
This isn’t an issue if you’re just cutting enough wood for a project at home.
The durability of the blade: there are some easy ways to tell whether a blade will hold up while sawing through dense hardwoods like ash or maple; blades that are thicker on the edges tend to be sturdier than those that are thin all around, and quality blades also have fine serrations along their backsides that help them grip the wood during cutting.
Tools you plan on using it with: can your tenon saw handle rough work where speed is important? Or is it more of a precision tool that produces very smooth cuts? These are questions you should ask yourself before committing to purchase because typically, you’ll end up getting the saw blade and handle separately.
Are they worth it?
There’s no doubt about it; traditional tenons saws are far superior to their modern counterparts for producing excellent results on hardwoods.
However, unless you’re planning on making a lot of tenons or grooves in your woodworking, I would recommend looking at alternate options – most notably a panel saw.
Q-1: What is a Tenon Saw?
A-1: A tenon saw is a tool with a narrow blade that’s designed for making precision cuts in wood. Specifically, they’re designed to cut perpendicular to the wood grain at right angles and can be used to produce both angular and rounded joints.
Q-2: How Do You Use a Tenon Saw?
A-2: To use one of these tools, you’ll want to hold it so the teeth point downwards and apply gentle pressure while guiding it along your workpiece until you’ve made enough cuts for your joint.
It’s important not to apply too much force because this will cause the blade to bind and leave behind rough edges on your wood; this type of saw is great for fine work where you need to make as few cuts as possible.
Q-3: What’s the Difference Between a Tenon Saw and a Panel Saw?
A-3: A tenon saw has thinner blades than those of a panel saw, but it can be used on both hardwood and softwood like pine and fir thanks to how sharp its teeth are.
The latter tool typically has thicker blades and is designed more for ripping through thick planks – although some models do have thin rip teeth on them that you can use for making crosscuts inboards too small for your table or radial arm saws.
Q-4: Are Tenon Saws Used Mainly by Wood Workers?
A-4: Tenon saws are seen as specialty tools by most woodworkers, but you’ll see them used for everything from cabinetmaking to millwork.
They’re also great for cutting through metal mesh that’s been riveted into place on things like storm windows – just be sure that the blade is thin enough before attempting this.
Because thicker blades will cause it to buckle and snap.
Q-5: Are Tenon Saws Worth It?
A-5: They absolutely are! However, unless they’re your chosen tool of choice or you plan on doing a lot of professional work where speed is important, I would recommend looking at panel saws instead.
This is particularly true if you’re not interested in spending more than $75 on a tenon saw.
Tenon saws are great tools to have around the house and shop, but their high price tag makes them less ideal for casual woodworkers.
That’s why we recommend checking out our review on panel saws instead if you’re not sure whether or not they’ll be worth it for your needs.
Best of luck!