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MYOG pull saw
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David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
MYOG pull saw on 01/20/2012 13:31:04 MST Print View

This idea was Steven Franchuk's

I started a new thread so as not to detract from Robert's excellent little frame saw and because it belongs in MYOG.

I liked it so much I ran out to the garage to get a few weights and do a sketch.

Steven wrote: ". . . In Asia they commonly use saws designed to cut on the pull stroke. In my opinion they are easier to use and are great when you want a very thin cut. . . a frame would not be needed. The handle would only need to be about 3 inches long (T shaped to get a good strong pull) and could be made of light weight plastic."

Steven was talking about a longer version to cut big stuff I presume. Here are my somewhat different thoughts:

UL means, for me, no big campfires. Maybe fueling a little wood-stove. And maybe getting a warming fire going fast in an emergency. In both those cases, I use dead branches from under the conifers' live canopy - they're usually dry and and easy to reach. So it's 1"-2" diameter stuff. I don't want bigger stuff because I don't have an axe or heavy knife to split bigger stuff.

Here are the weights I got: 6" pullsaw with plastic handle: 80 grams. blade only: 18 grams.Pull saw

This is one I've had for 15 years and I already cut it down once because (1) I never needed 8" of blade length branches and (2) a high-school student (who had never been a Japanese carpenter in a past life) had broken it. I drilled a new hole, cut a new slot and reshaped the shank on a belt sander. I've used it on some BP trips as is and I use it A LOT around the house because we're on 13 acres of spruce forest.

My idea is leave the handle at home and either slip a dowel in that back hole (especially if I'd never cut the new slot) or, better yet I think, grind away along the black lines to make a handgrip. Then use it as is (just tried it, it works, in part because you need so little pull on a pullsaw), or wrap it with athletic tape or duct tape, or paint on some of that make-a-handle goop sold in hardware stores or adapt the shank to insert into a vertical (in the plane of the blade) dowel.

I think it would come in at 15 to 20 grams depending on handle style for a saw that would be very compact, very quick at 1-2" stuff and could handle 3" diameter wood if needed.

I also (sorry Robert) have always been a little leary of push-type bow saws with coarse blades. It's been years since I've cut myself, but I'm very aware of the possibility of the blade jumping out of the cut until all the teeth are well into the cut. I like the control and low forces of a pull saw and find it, for myself, safer to use.

Editted for little grammar mistakes.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 01/20/2012 13:35:57 MST.

Mole J
(MoleJ) - F

Locale: UK
Pull saw - 34g including handle on 01/20/2012 13:57:18 MST Print View

Hi David

there is a very light pull saw available which handles up to 2". It weighs just over 1 oz including the handle!

I've had one for a few years - treat it with care like any UL toy!

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: MYOG pull saw on 01/20/2012 17:01:46 MST Print View

Nice. Are you carrying this instead of a knife?

Not sure how it would compare weight wise, but I used to carry a buck saw blade under my belt, and build the saw in the woods if needed. Like my great grandpa taught me. But, after years in the woods, I found I never needed more than a 3"-4" fixed blade knife.

I guess I'm just not a lumberjack like my grandpappy was.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Data on a pull saw on 01/20/2012 17:14:51 MST Print View

J Mole: So you Brits CAN get some things that Yanks can't. Thanks for the link and I'll keep my eyes open, but that vendor didn't seem to ship outside of the UK.

So I took the little pull saw blade, a Sven saw with a 15-inch blade, did some cutting tests.


1/2" round branch on tree: pullsaw (one stroke), 1 second? Sven saw: 2-3 seconds (hard to start on small stuff)

3/4" round branch on tree: pullsaw: 2 seconds; Sven saw: 3 seconds

1" round branch on tree: pullsaw: 3 seconds; Sven saw: 3 seconds

1.5" round green branch on bench: pullsaw: 6 seconds; Sven saw: 3.5 seconds

1.5" x 1.5" dry on bench: pullsaw: 10 seconds; Sven saw: 6 seconds

2.5" round green branch on bench: pullsaw: couldn't; Sven saw: 15 seconds

2.5" round dry" pullsaw: 15 seconds; Sven saw: 17 seconds

Generally, the pull saw with its smaller kerf and smaller teeth did better on dry wood which was hard to get the Sven Saw started in. The Sven Saw excells as pieces get larger, especially green wood.

I got the pullsaw down to 15 grams and I'm inclined to leave it handleless. If I was cutting a lot, or really going for time, I'd add tape or cushy stuff and bring it up to 18-20 grams.

The Sven Saw was 315 grams. I used a leather glove (100 grams) whenever I used it because I was going for speed. I wouldn't bring the glove BPing, but then I'd slow down on the starting strokes on a push saw. The Little Buck 2G is reported at 109 grams and is clearly superior in weight and size to the storebought version and, as I've posted elsewhere, I'll be buying one.

But for my needs while UL BPing, I'm liking the handleless pullsaw. Personally, I'm using small, dry branches. If I was trailclearing or feeding a wood stove (which we do sometimes at USFS cabins and old trapper's cabin which by tradition are public use), then I'd want the Little Buck. Or my Husqvarna 350.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Even lighter option on 01/20/2012 17:30:00 MST Print View

Steven's interesting idea, which helped me develop an option I'm really liking - that 15 gram pull saw - got flamed on another thread for being "vaporware". The first Apple computer computer started out as "vaporware" in Woz's mind, so I guess I'm in good computer (he and I returned to UCB the same quarter after dropping out to pursue our different microcomputer pursuits. His were much more successful than mine.)

So here's a total "vaporhardware" idea. A few facts:

I got my pullsaw down to 15 grams.

There are masses less than 15 grams.

Bandsaws are kind of like a pullsaw operated by an eletric motor.

Those bandsaw blades are thin. And long.

Hence, those bandsaw blades are pretty cheap per inch. And pretty light per inch.

I can get bandsaw blades even in my little Alaskan town.

So I'll give that a try in a few days.

It looks like $20 could give me 6-8 blades that (guesimate) would be 5-10 grams each.

If it's 7-8 grams, for me, that's worth it just as emergency equipment. I once needed to get a fire going fast for a hypothermic wife. Quickly cutting 1 to 2" branches would help do that.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
bandsaw teeth on 01/20/2012 22:03:18 MST Print View

i haven't done much shopping for them, but the bandsaw teeth i've seen are very fine (in comparison to a pruning saw).i don't know if a person could replicate the speed at which a bandsaw makes its cut by. however i'm encouraged to see you try it, as for now i am carrying an 8 oz pruning saw for firewood in the winter...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Pull don't push on 01/20/2012 23:52:24 MST Print View


Compared to your existing 240-gram saw, I'm suggesting a 15-gram alternative. Saving you HALF A POUND!!!!. I might be able to cut the 15 grams in half, but even the "bird in hand" is 15 grams. And half a pound is half a pound!

Folks would spend a $100 to save 8 ounces on a sleeping bag of equal performance. Here's the same weight saving for, oh, about $15.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Japanese keyhole saws? on 01/21/2012 09:02:37 MST Print View

David, you might enjoy browsing
They have keyhole saws and bonsai trimming saws with skinny blades that look pretty light.

My favorite pruning saw (not UL) is a US made pull saw; it doesn't bind as much as the push saws. I suspect the Japanese blades are even better.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
yes dave on 01/21/2012 12:09:55 MST Print View

i know dave. that's a huge weight savings (especially in winter when i'm already loaded down). i hope you try it, find a blade that works, and then post a few pictures of the blade type here...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Japanese keyhole saws? on 01/21/2012 12:19:10 MST Print View


That site has a LOT of nice saws. Thanks for the URL. A replacement blade was only $6.30, which is fine. S&H to Alaska would be a lot more, so I'll pursue the bandsaw blade idea first. -David

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Japanese keyhole saws? on 01/24/2012 09:15:43 MST Print View

Keyhole saws tend to be very thin and flexible and have a tendency to bend easily. Bandsaw blades are generally very flexible, and you would have to be able to straighten them out to use them outside of a bandsaw. I would suggest that maybe a Sawzall blade might be a little more useful for this type of application. They are generally pretty durable blades and come ready to mount. You would just need to fashion a lightweight handle.


Here is the concept handle (needs to be lighter)

Now, Gerber already makes a 3.4 ounce Sportsman's saw that you can find for under $15 bucks -

Also, if you dig around enough you can find other saws that are pretty lightweight and durable for this specific application. - Note shipping weight is .16lbs (2.56 ounces). One would think that the saw is actually lighter than that.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Japanese keyhole saws? on 01/24/2012 09:56:53 MST Print View


Thanks for the ideas and the links. I've used sawzall blades in a handle like that in my traveling toolbox because then I have hacksaw, woodsaw, abrasive saw, etc, in a compact package. But they're not great handsaws. Powersaw teeth tend to be more robust but less sharp than handsaw blades - maybe optimized for the different speeds. In a pinch, they work fine and are certainly small, light, affordable and readily available.

The Gerber sounds good since I can't find that English one to ship here but the harborfreight pull saw is more appealing. Not only is the saw likely lighter than the ship weight, but that handle could be trimmed or maybe tossed for a big savings.

I bought a bandsaw blade and will play with it today to see how useful it is in a short length.


David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Bandsaw blades work. on 01/24/2012 18:14:27 MST Print View

Just to wrap this up, I tried the bandsaw blade, it worked pretty well, was very cheap per unit and came in at 13 grams, I'm guessing 18 grams with handle. I'll post a new thread on that (freebie alert!) when the handles are done, probably tomorrow.

It wasn't as good as the cut-down Japanese pruning pullsaw for dry wood, but it was better for wet and frozen wood.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Bandsaw blades work. on 01/24/2012 20:29:10 MST Print View

For wet wood you need side rake on the teeth. This is the part of the tooth that sticks out past the "kerf" or "back" of the blade in question. Bandsaw blades all have side rake. Your pull saws do not tend to have this from most manufacturers as it is expensive to create side rake. To create side rake they have to use a PRESS to push the blade tooth away from the flat sheet stock it came from.

Push saws tend to have thicker backs on them and one has their entire body weight behind it to force said saw through even if said blade does not have side rake in their teeth. That is why people complain about the grip on said saw handle as they are trying to shove their entire weight behind this blade to push it through to keep it from binding. If said saw simply had SIDE RAKE no one would complain about this problem at all.

Most pullsaws or even push saw blades DO NOT have side rake in their teeth and because of this bind in the wood. If you find an OLD handsaw, a real one, they will have side rake in their teeth. Since no one uses arm power to cut wood anymore or VERY rarely, this expense in tools people are NOT willing to pay for and there is no market for said high quality CORRECTLY created tools. My cousin spent buckoo bucks buying a "japanesse" pullsaw. The blade was like everyone elses without any side rake in its teeth, but it had a BIG fancy spancy handle on it... OOOO SHINY!

My Grandfathers push/pull saws, still work like a charm and make VERY short work of green OR dry wood of any thickness.

Its all about side rake. You can make your own side rake on said cheeeeeeeeep standard pull saw blades by placing said blade in a vice and take a punch and hammer and bend the teeth outward. I had my cousin do so on his super expensive "Japanesse" pull saws and now they cut like butter with no binding issues.


Pinching is a side issue and no super thin pull saw blade will handle pinching worth a darn. IE bandsaw blade or hacksaw blade types.