You will see my face smiling if you discuss hand tools with me. I love them, and I would collect an uncountable number of them. At the same time, I understand that, in the beginning, it can be challenging to choose the first tool to put in the workshop, and it is essential to know where to orient our decisions. In this article, I will discuss why Ryoba is probably the best hand saw you can have in your workshop.
These are the points I will touch on to introduce you to this excellent hand saw:
A Ryoba saw is a traditional Japanese hand saw that has been used for centuries in Japan by carpenters, woodworkers, and other artisans. The name "Ryoba" translates to "double blade" in Japanese, referring to the saw's unique design featuring teeth on both sides. Unlike other saws with teeth on only one side of the blade, the Ryoba saw is designed to cut in both the cross and rip direction, making it highly efficient and versatile.
The blade of the Ryoba saw is typically made from high-quality steel, and the teeth are sharpened using a traditional Japanese technique called slope grinding. This technique results in teeth that are razor-sharp and able to cut through wood quickly and easily. What is interesting about the blade of the Ryoba saw is that it is thinner at the centre than at the edges, which reduces friction and allows for smoother, more efficient cutting.
The thinner blade at the centre facilitates the cut as the edge runs smoothly through the wood and produces an excellent finish. On the other side, a slight drawback is that deep cuts cause the other side of the blade to touch the finished part leaving behind a sign that can be easily removed. That's why, for deeper cuts, a Kataba is ideal.
One of the unique features of the Ryoba saw is its versatility. The saw can be used for various woodworking tasks, including cutting lumber and precision joinery. It is also popular among carpenters for its ability to make flush cuts, even if the market offers specialised Japanese saws for this specific task.
In addition to its practical uses, woodworkers and collectors highly value the Ryoba saw for its beauty and craftsmanship. Skilled artisans in Japan handcraft many Ryoba saws and feature decorative touches such as ornate handles and intricate patterns etched onto the blade.
I know...I promised I'd talk about one and only one saw, and now I'm here to introduce variants! But for a good reason.
There are a few key factors to consider when you decide on a Ryoba saw that can help you make an informed decision, as different models will fit specific jobs.
First of all, let's talk about price! The Japanese tradition prides itself on the ability to produce high-quality handmade products, and woodworking hand tools are an essential part of it. So it's easy to understand that a handmade Japanese saw could cost hundreds of US Dollars (typically 2-300).
Conversely, modern technology offers machine-made products that cost a fraction of the handmade saws. These are the saws that are more commonly available.
Then, the Ryoba comes in different sizes and should be chosen depending on the final use. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Blade length: The length of the blade will determine the kind of use of the saw. Remember that a given size corresponds to a given TPI (teeth per inch). Longer blades have lower TPI and are more indicated for general carpentry. Shorter blades have a higher TPI and are more meant for finer joinery. For most woodworking tasks, a blade length of 240mm (9.5 inches) is ideal, as it can cover a little bit of everything.
As explained above, the number of teeth per inch (TPI) on the blade will determine the saw's cutting speed and precision. A lower TPI will cut more quickly but with less precision, while a higher TPI will cut more slowly but with greater accuracy. A TPI of around 9-15 is ideal for general woodworking tasks, but the specific job and personal preference may dictate a different TPI.
Blade material: Ryoba saw blades are typically made from high-carbon or laminated steel. High-carbon steel blades are generally less expensive but require more maintenance to prevent rust and corrosion. Laminated steel blades are more costly but rust-resistant and can hold an edge longer.
Handle design: The handle of a Ryoba saw can significantly impact the saw's comfort and ease of use. Look for a handle that fits comfortably in your hand and provides good grip and control. Some handles are also ergonomically designed to reduce hand fatigue during extended use.
Using a Ryoba saw is like playing a musical instrument - it takes some practice to get it right, but once you master it, you'll make beautiful cuts like a pro.
As I mentioned, Ryoba saws are versatile; they can make almost any cut, even if they might not excel in specific tasks.
But... come on...we are still talking of a great saw!
The deep cuts might not equal the finishing quality of the Kataba, but they are still pretty damn good! And you can crosscut and rip with the same saw.
To make good use of your Ryoba (which is valid for any saw, though), you want to mark your cuts: Before you start sawing, take the time to reference your cuts with a pencil or a marking knife. This will help you stay on track and make accurate cuts.
Get a good grip! Hold the handle with one hand and place the other hand on top of the blade to guide it. Ensure you have a firm grip and keep your fingers away from the teeth. Remember that the Ryoba has very sharp teeth!
Position the saw on the wood and start sawing in a back-and-forth motion. Use your whole arm to saw, not just your wrist. Keep the blade perpendicular to the wood and let the saw do the work. Starting a cut will be easier than with a western saw because of the pull cut. The blade will go immediately in tension, and the sharp teeth will eat the wood like butter.
Be patient, and don't rush! Ryoba saws are designed to make clean and precise cuts, but you want to ensure that you are going in the right direction, and the first strokes are the most important. Take your time and let the saw do its job.
After you're done sawing, clean the blade with a cloth and some oil. This will help prevent rust and keep the saw in good condition.
With some practice, you'll be using a Ryoba saw like a pro in no time. Remember to take your time, be patient, and let the saw do the work!
Once you've mastered the basics of the Ryoba saw, you can take some time to bring your skills to the next level. The possibilities don't stop with tenons of rip cuts but can be extended to more refined joints.
With a Ryoba saw, you can make compound cuts of any angle by tilting the blade and adjusting it for your cut. This is useful for making precise cuts on joints and other complex pieces.
Dovetail joints are often considered a specialised task of the Dozuki saw, but a Ryoba can also be precise and deliver excellent results. Combined with a guide, it's easy to obtain consistent cuts at the same angle for a beautiful handmade dovetail joint.
In summary, the Ryoba saw is a very adaptable saw that can help you make accurate, clean cuts in your woodworking tasks.
The Ryoba saw it needs to be in your toolbox whether you're a novice or an expert woodworker.
It's a fantastic option for crosscutting, ripping, and even more complex methods like compound angle cuts and dovetail joints because of its double-sided blade, sharp teeth, and ergonomic design.
You may unleash the full potential of the Ryoba saw and improve your woodworking skills by using the tips provided in this article.
Remember to mark your cuts, have a good grip, use the correct technique, and take your time.
Making beautiful and accurate cuts won't take long if you put some practice, patience, and work into it.
So give the Ryoba saw a try to realise its full potential!
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