You might be looking for a Japanese saw to start using in your workshop, and I’m sure you’ve seen this affordable Japanese saw available on Amazon. Like me you’ve been wondering how good they are. Thanks to Suizan I’ll be able to test this saw. The article will cover a little bit about the company and town the saw is made in, the physical aspects of the blade, cut test and then some final thoughts on each.
In addition to this article we did a video review of the product.
Suizan is a Japanese brand with a history of over 100 years in making Japanese hand tools, all of the processes gone into making tools were completed in one of Japan’s towns known for their craft making tradition.
Because Suizan products are so affordable the first question I had was, are these tools made in Japan or some other country? I confirmed with them that not only do they plan, create trial products, and carry out product tests in their factory, but they also do the manufacturing in Japan as well.
I’ve been corresponding with Morita san from Suizan, and he was able to supply me some pictures from their factory in Sanjo in the Niigata prefecture.
The Town of Sanjo
When I found out that Suizan tools were made in Japan I thought I’d try to find out more about the town where they’re made. In Japan, it’s not uncommon for a town to have a long history of specializing in a particular craft. Sanjo has a history of blacksmiths making tools and knives. The video below is from NHK about the blacksmiths of Sanjo
In addition, the city of Sanjo put out a series of videos on the city. Below is the first of that series.
Basics About The Saw
The Suizan ryoba is a multi-purpose carpentry saw with two cutting edges. Ryoba (両刃) means “double edged”. There’s a cross-cutting (yokobiki 横挽き) blade on one side and a ripping (tatebiki 縦挽き) blade on the other. The blade has an isosceles trapezoid shape.
Like other Japanese saws, the Suizan ryoba cuts on the pull stroke.
The Suizan ryoba has a removable blade so when it gets dull you can replace it with another. This way is preferable because the teeth are hardened to keep a sharp edge longer ,and the cross-cut teeth are multifaceted. That’s great for cutting, but makes it very hard to properly resharpen the saw blade. There’s a craftsperson, know as a metate (目立て), who is skilled at sharpening you would normally have sharpen your saw.
There are 9 tpi (teeth per inch) on the ripping side and 15 tpi on the crosscut side of the blade.
The overall length including the handle is 23 1/2 inches (590 mm).
The blade length is 9 1/2 inches (240 mm)
With a Japanese handsaw the cut is made on the pull stroke. This allows the blade to be made with thinner steel. The advantage of this is the kerf is very small. In the case of the Suizan ryoba blade it’s 0.50 mm thick.
The smaller side of the blade closer to the handle is just over 2 1/2 inches (65 mm).
The width of the top of the blade is 3 1/8 inches (80 mm).
For testing I used the saw for three weekends. I wanted to live with the saw a little. During that time I was making sure I was cross-cutting and ripping both soft and hard wood species. Luckily there was a lot of lumber that needed milling.
In addition to using the saw to mill lumber, I made some tenons from Douglas Fir. The kerf was so thin it was the same thickness you’d get with a tradition western tenon saw. I didn’t experience any issues with blade rigidity when making the tenons.
During one of those weekends I had to install some upper moulding on our kitchen cabinets. This was a good chance to test the general portion of the general purpose saw. Let’s just say the trim wasn’t made from solid wood.
I used the cross-cut side of the saw, and it did really well. The jig I’m using is one I made with hand tools only. There’s a magnet in there to keep the blade flush with the 45 degree jig.
Should You Buy This Saw?
The real question is should you buy this saw? After using it for three weekends doing a variety of tasks like milling wood, cutting tenons and installing moulding with it, I’d say yes. This saw is a good entry into using Japanese hand saws. If you get it from Amazon, it’s less than $30 shipped to your house as of writing this article. When the blade gets dull, you only need a screwdriver to replace it out. You can use the old blades to make scrapers. If you’re going to buy this saw, we’d appreciate it if you used any of the Amazon links in the article. We get a commission for the sale. The money is used for hosting costs for the site.
An important thing to remember when you’re using a ryoba is that you don’t need to use the same force when you push it forward like you would with western saws. If you’re used to driving the saw forward there is a chance the blade will bind and bend.
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