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I recently received a crosscut carcase saw from Andrew Lunn … 11 ¼” of steel blade along with a bit of brass and Walnut. It is a beautiful saw and it cuts magnificently. Everything I want in a carcase saw.

Andrew puts a lot of time and effort into his custom saws. It is not simply the detailing in the brass back and the tote. More than anything it is the filing of the blade. There is much to make it special. I could shape the tote but I could not in a million years file a saw blade as well as he.

What is special about this saw?

Firstly, the steel plate, at .018”, is thinner than other similar saws. A saw plate from Mike Wenzloff or Lie Nielsen is typically .02” thick.

Andrew’s dovetail saws are designed with significant taper from toe to heel. I was expecting this saw to look similar, but the taper was not apparent until I measured the blade and back. The saw plate tapers gently from 58mm at the toe to 60mm at the rear (measured at the front of the tote). The folded brass back tapers from 16mm at the toe to 18mm at the heel.

This blade is 14 ppi to my eye. I have read (but cannot determine this on my own) that the teeth begin with less rake at the toe to start a cut more smoothly. Andrew, I think that you will be the one sharpening my saw when that day comes ..

The teeth are minimally set by hammer.

Let’s back up a little.

I asked Andrew to make me a saw. He wrote back with questions …

Am I right or left handed? The width of my palm? What type of work I plan to put the saw to? What type of wood I typically saw?

Well, I was looking for a carcass saw that will be filed crosscut for tenon shoulders and faces, as well as other detail cuts requiring a finished edge. The woods I work tend to be Australian eucalypts, such as Jarrah and She-oak. These are hard to very hard and can be brittle.

I discovered that I had a broad hand (100mm across the palm).

About five months went by with a couple of emails from Andrew to keep me appraised of the progress, and then the saw was ready. Andrew had tested it on Bubinga, and pronounced it good.

First impressions

There is a reason I have not posted pictures up to this point. The saw arrived exceptionally well packed in a double box and protected with a thickish black felt cloth. It looked stunning. It was an excellent fit in my hand. I took a test cut and it felt balanced, light and sweet. However, after the initial excitement a few features began to niggle …

I prefer rounded totes, and the totes that I had seen of Andrew’s were rounded, but this one was not. It was quite square …

Here you see the Eccentric Toolworks (ET) to the left of (in continuing order), Lie-Nielsen (LN)dovetail and Independent Tools (IT) dovetail saws.

Secondly, when I held the saw I found that there were hard edges that pressed against my palm. Andrew had not experienced this when testing the saw, probably as our hands are different.

There was a third feature, one which I must put down as a matter of personal taste (since Andrew later reported it was intentional and not an error). I noted that the lower section of the horn was flat and not rounded. This seemed to me to be out-of-context within the design. It just felt unfinished. OK, so I am a overly fussy.

Andrew was unhappy that I was unhappy and willing to make it good. However I did not think it worth sending the saw back – these are minor issues that would require minor surgery, and I was quite happy to do them myself…. consider this a collaborative affair.

Re-shaping the tote

A few images that will show where the re-shaping took place.

The finished tote (sanded to 400 and with a little buffed on Shellawax) ..

Comparisons with the LN, IT and Veritas dovetail saws (more on these shortly) ..

OK, now I can show off this beautiful saw….

My changes were really quite minor and must not be seen to detract from the design and features that are Andrew’s work.

Split nuts and carving ...

A engraved sawnut …

More engraving …

So how does it cut?

In a word, wonderfully.

Here is one of the test cuts I made for this review ..

The finish was consistently smooth and free of any tearout. It was noticeably better than could be achieved with any of my other crosscut or rip backsaws.

In the hand, the saw was comfortable, beautifully balanced and cut freely and straight. There was no hint of teeth catching.

Although I was expecting the thin plate to reduce the physical effort, I was still surprised at the speed of the saw. This was demonstrated when I used it to rip the end of a board as if cutting dovetails. Here it is against the LN, IT and Veritas dovetail saws.

The number below each set of paired cuts (I sawed two vertical kerfs for each saw - LN, ET, IT and LV.The LV and ET produced the cleanest cuts. The ET cut more aggressively than the LV, however. In this regard it was matched by the LN.

In reflection

Andrew Lunn builds an impressive saw. After a couple of hiccups we have collaborated to create a carcase saw that I will use with much pleasure in the years to come.

It must be said that others may not be as easy-going about reshaping the tote of a new saw as I was. I build tools and, as a result, I am both a perfectionist – seeing things that others might not – andalso less concerned about (what I view as) minor fixes. I have no doubt that Andrew would have gone to great lengths to ensure that I (or another) ended up happy with the saw, such as remaking the tote. What was more important to me was that the saw cut well, and cut better than the other similar saws I owned. Well it does.

Regards from Perth


May 2009