MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

Vaughan BearSaw

by Ty Nowotny

As seen in MAKE 07 Toolbox

Tool photo.

When I think of Japanese tools, I think of minimalism and efficiency, two qualities perfectly embodied by Vaughan’s BearSaw, actually modeled after a traditional Japanese saw called a ryoba. For years I used a regular old crosscut handsaw, which worked fine — unless I wanted to cut a piece of wood with the grain. Or I needed to cut something flush. Or I needed to make a delicate cut on a fragile piece of wood. It got to the point where cutting something was a fearsome process.

Then I found the BearSaw. It has a crosscut side and a ripcut side; it cuts on the pull stroke, so the blade is thinner, more flexible, easier to control, and doesn’t remove as much wood. It also has gradated teeth (there are more teeth-per-inch closer to the handle) for making delicate cuts. Best of all, the blade is removable and replaceable, which means I can fit a full-size saw into my portable toolbox. I still have a use for my old crosscut saw, though. I got a bow and I’m learning to play it as a musical instrument.

Available at most hardware stores.