Monday, January 31, 2011

Lee Valley Carcass Saw Review

I recently bought the Lee Valley and Veritas Rip Carcass Saw and have been using it the last few days, so I thought I would write up my feelings on it so far.

First, how I came to the decision of buying the saw: I bought a Zona razor saw from Lee Valley, hoping that it would be a good budget dovetailing saw, and while it's halfway decent, I had a lot of trouble making it behave. The plate is so thin that I can't guide the saw, and it's hard to aim because it's so small. It also bottoms out at 1 1/8", which is fine for cutting dovetails in 3/4" stock like what I had in mind when I bought it. However, when I came up with both the framesaw project and the picture frame, I found I needed a deeper saw, and I had wanted a better quality joint cutting saw since I got the Zona. Unfortunately, I also had a budget to work within. I had read a couple of reports that said the Lee Valley saws came very sharp and ready to use out of the box (definitely a benefit, even for an expert saw sharpener, which I am not). It was also about half the price of the really nice saws that I had my eyes on, like the Wenzloff or Lie Nielson. So I decided to pull the trigger, and I don't regret it. I only wish I had bought one sooner!

Fit and Finish: The saw has a good level, but not great. And for this price, it is quite good. The seam from the mold used on the back is visible (a few swipes with some sandpaper would make this disappear), there are some sanding marks on the handle visible at some angles, but nothing that impacts function. And taking the time to make the saw perfect would likely raise it's price up to the premium makers, which would negate it's purpose. The saw did come sharp, and I used it straight out of the box with good results.

I've used the saw to cut 10 or 12 really nice finished joints, plus a pile of practice joints on scraps. I've also been using it to do some cross cutting, such as on the shoulders of tenons. It works great! The teeth are a bit aggressive for some of the cuts I'm using it on, but that just means I have to be a bit more careful about where I place it. After using the Zona, with practically no kerf, it took a minute to get used to. I find the saw very easy to aim and it tracks a line nicely.

The handle is the tiniest bit small for my hand, but I have large hands (size XXL glove), and I got used to it after the first few cuts. I think for most people it would be perfect or at least very comfortable.

Overall, I give this saw an A+ for being a very good saw for a very reasonable price. It's a great deal, especially if you are fairly new to cutting precise joints like myself and aren't quite sure what exactly you are looking for in a saw. I think that after I've cut a couple hundred joints with this saw I will know what I want in a saw, and will feel confident investing in something like the Wenzloff or Lie Nielson.

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