May 3, 2011
Tenon saw
Photo by Jim Ruen
This tenon saw may be impractical, but it’s the sharpest saw on my workbench at the moment.

Last week, I picked up my handmade 16-inch, 12 ppi, hybrid-cut cherry handle tenon saw. Mark Harrell, owner of Bad Axe Tools and saw maker extraordinaire, handed it to me and set up a wood scrap so I could try cutting a tenon.

I froze. I was totally inhibited by this tool. I made a few preemptory swipes with it, remarked what a beauty it was and felt like a total imposter. What was I doing? I am a rough-cut tool guy, not a fine-cabinet maker or post-and-beam builder! I nail and screw and glue things together. I don’t do mortise and tenons.

I took it home and set it on my workbench. I may keep it … or not. Either way, it has served a purpose. It reminds me why I am most comfortable with simple tools that fit my needs.  A lot of my old tools are just that: old tools. They are slightly beat up, whether I bought them new or used, but like an old shoe, they feel comfortable.

I know I will buy other new tools, like the sabre saw I recently picked up, but they will be tools I need at the time. I will also buy other old tools, like the block plane, broadaxe and a few other things I picked up at antique/used stuff stores I visited this past weekend. Again, for the most part they will be things that I see a purpose in and know I will use.

I’ll probably keep my tenon saw with its cherry handle. Someday I may even try making a tenon. In the meantime, I’ll use it as needed. After all, it’s the sharpest saw on the bench, and it does handle nicely!

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