Saws

The 10 Best Dovetail Saws of 2020

Best Dovetail Saw

Photo: Z-saw

A dovetail saw is a mini version of a tenon saw. However, it has a thinner blade with more teeth per inch as compared to a tenon saw. The tool is mostly used in woodworking in joinery tasks when making dovetail joints in furniture, timber frames, windows, etc.

That said, these dovetail saws are available in different shapes and sizes, with each having its unique benefits. For this reason, we have compiled a list of the best dovetail saws in the market to help you pick the best one for your project.

10 Best Dovetail Saws – Review 

IMAGE

​PRODUCT

​FEATURES

Suizan Japanese Saw 01

1. Suizan Japanese Saw 01 (Best Overall)

  • Double-edged design for cross and rip cutting
  • Long 9.5-in blade
  • Produces cleaner cuts
  • Grippy traditional rattan cane handle wrapping
Zona 35-380

2. Zona 35-380 (Best for the Money)

  • Affordable
  • High density 18 TPI for fine-finish cutting
  • Thick wooden handle for easy holding
  • Hanging hole for convenient storage
Robert Larson 520-6020

3. Robert Larson 520-6020 (Best Long-Blade)

  • Long 10-in blade
  • Pre-sharpened teeth
  • High-quality German steel construction
  • Thick, comfortable wooden handle
Z-saw 5338ai

4. Z-saw 5338ai (Best for Precision Joinery)

  • High 26 TPI tooth density
  • Rigid back for blade support
  • Grippy bamboo-wrapped handle
  • Thin 0.3mm blade for tight cutting
Suizan Japanese Saw D-003

5. Suizan Japanese Saw D-003 (Most Compact)

  • Compact 6-in size
  • Stiffening rib for blade support
  • Rear-facing teeth for pull cutting
  • Easily interchangeable blade
Gyokucho Razorsaw 372

6. Gyokucho Razorsaw 372 (Most Durable)

  • Impulse hardened teeth
  • Impulse hardened teeth
  • Long 9.5-in blade
  • Comfortable and grippy rattan-wrapped handle
Gyokucho Ryoba No. 650

7. Gyokucho Ryoba No. 650 (Double Edge Blade)

  • Dual edge blade for cross and rip cutting
  • Durable impulse hardened teeth
  • Long 9.4-in blade
  • Comfortable rattan-wrapped wood handle
Suizan Japanese Saw 02

8. Suizan Japanese Saw 02 (Easily Interchangeable Blades)

  • Easily interchangeable blade design
  • High-quality Japanese steel construction
  • Stiffening rib for blade support
  • Dense 25 TPI for smooth cutting
Irwin 213104

9. Irwin 213104 (Flexible Blade)

  • Flexible back-stroke blade
  • Produces smooth, even cuts
  • Durable polymer handle
  • Quick-release mechanism for easy blade changes
Okada Hardware Mini Dozuki

10. Okada Hardware Mini Dozuki (With Impulse Hardened Teeth)

  • Durable impulse-hardened teeth
  • Quick-release mechanism for the blade
  • Stiffening rib for supporting the blade
  • Grippy cane-wrapped wood handle

PRODUCT

1. Suizan Japanese Saw 01

(Best Overall)

Suizan Japanese Saw 01
  • Double-edged design for cross and rip cutting
  • Long 9.5-in blade
  • Produces cleaner cuts
  • Grippy traditional rattan cane handle wrapping

2. Zona 35-380

(Best for the Money)

Zona 35-380
  • Affordable
  • High density 18 TPI for fine-finish cutting
  • Thick wooden handle for easy holding
  • Hanging hole for convenient storage

3. Robert Larson 520-6020

(Best Long-Blade)

Robert Larson 520-6020
  • Long 10-in blade
  • Pre-sharpened teeth
  • High-quality German steel construction
  • Thick, comfortable wooden handle

4. Z-saw 5338ai

(Best for Precision Joinery)

Z-saw 5338ai
  • High 26 TPI tooth density
  • Rigid back for blade support
  • Grippy bamboo-wrapped handle
  • Thin 0.3mm blade for tight cutting

5. Suizan Japanese Saw D-003

(Most Compact)

Suizan Japanese Saw D-003
  • Compact 6-in size
  • Stiffening rib for blade support
  • Rear-facing teeth for pull cutting
  • Easily interchangeable blade

6. Gyokucho Razorsaw 372

(Most Durable)

Gyokucho Razorsaw 372
  • Impulse hardened teeth
  • Impulse hardened teeth
  • Long 9.5-in blade
  • Comfortable and grippy rattan-wrapped handle

7. Gyokucho Ryoba No. 650

(Double Edge Blade)

Gyokucho Ryoba No. 650
  • Dual edge blade for cross and rip cutting
  • Durable impulse hardened teeth
  • Long 9.4-in blade
  • Comfortable rattan-wrapped wood handle

8. Suizan Japanese Saw 02

(Easily Interchangeable Blades)

Suizan Japanese Saw 02
  • Easily interchangeable blade design
  • High-quality Japanese steel construction
  • Stiffening rib for blade support
  • Dense 25 TPI for smooth cutting

9. Irwin 213104

(Flexible Blade)

Irwin 213104
  • Flexible back-stroke blade
  • Produces smooth, even cuts
  • Durable polymer handle
  • Quick-release mechanism for easy blade changes

10. Okada Hardware Mini Dozuki

(With Impulse Hardened Teeth)

Okada Hardware Mini Dozuki
  • Durable impulse-hardened teeth
  • Quick-release mechanism for the blade
  • Stiffening rib for supporting the blade
  • Grippy cane-wrapped wood handle

1. Suizan Japanese Saw 01 – Best Overall Dovetail Saw

Suizan Japanese Saw 01

Photo: Suizan

  • Blade Length: 9.5 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.5mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 9 & 15
  • Overall Length: 24 in.

Suizan’s Japanese Saw 01 takes the best overall spot because it has a relatively long 9.5-in. blade with a double edge design. One of the edges is designed for crosscutting and it has 15 teeth per inch with the teeth in an alternating right-left placement.

The other side is less densely packed because it has 9 teeth per inch with a flat edge. This is more suited for rip cutting, which is slicing wood along the grain.

Both edges have the teeth facing backward and this ensures you cut by pulling instead of pushing. Pull saws are better than push saws, in which this blade is lighter, requires less energy to cut, and produces cleaner cuts.

A wooden handle is attached to this double edge blade but it is wrapped with a traditional rattan cane for better grip. This wrapping is very durable and will not unravel if maintained properly.

That said, the metal used is top quality Japanese steel, which is tough, durable, and maintains sharpness on the teeth. On the downside, this saw is relatively expensive.

Pros:

  • Double-edged design for cross and rip cutting
  • Long 9.5-in blade
  • Produces cleaner cuts
  • Traditional rattan cane handle wrapping for better grip
  • High-quality Japanese steel construction

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

2. Zona 35-380 – Best Dovetail Saw for the Money

Zona 35-380

Photo: Zona

  • Blade Length: 8 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.5mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 18
  • Overall Length: 12.5 in.

You can still get a high-quality dovetail saw at a budget and the best example of this is the Zona 35-380. The saw has a single-edge blade with 18 teeth per inch and these are ideal for fine-finish rip cutting.

These teeth are spread over an 8-in blade length and they have a rear-facing design, which makes the saw ideal for pull cutting. However, this blade is strong enough to be used on a forceful push stroke.

The saw has an overall length of 12.5 in. and this means you get a 4.5-in blade. This gives you enough surface area to firmly hold it as you make the cuts. Additionally, this handle is wooden and it has a thick, round shape that fits comfortably in the palm.

Other features include 0.5mm blade thickness, a maximum cutting depth of 1.75 in., and a hanging hole at the far end of the blade. However, the blade is not easily removable from the handle for easy replacement.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • High density 18 TPI for fine-finish cutting
  • Thick wooden handle for easy holding
  • Hanging hole for convenient storage

Cons:

  • The blade is not easily removable

3. Robert Larson 520-6020 – Best Long-Blade Dovetail Saw

Robert Larson 520-6020

Photo: Robert Larson

  • Blade Length: 10 in.
  • Teeth Per Inch: 15
  • Overall Length: 15.4 in.

With a 10-in blade, Robert Larson’s 520-6020 has the longest cutting edge, which comes in very handy when cutting long pieces of wood. The blade is lined with 15 teeth per inch, which are pre-sharpened for immediate use straight out of the box.

This section is made using high-quality German steel and it has a stiffening brass back that holds the blade firm and straight as you make the cuts.

Overall, the unit is a general-purpose saw that is ideal for cutting dovetails and other fine joints. It also has a thick wooden handle that fits comfortably in the palm for grippy use. However, the blade is not easily removable for replacement purposes.

Pros:

  • Long 10-in blade
  • Pre-sharpened teeth
  • High-quality German steel construction
  • Thick, comfortable wooden handle

Cons:

  • The blade is not easily removable

4. Z-saw 5338ai – Best Dovetail Saw for Precision Joinery

Z-saw 5338ai

Photo: Z-saw

  • Blade Length: 9.5 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.3mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 26
  • Overall Length: 21 in.

Z-saw’s 5338ai has a tooth density of 26 TPI and these extremely fine and dense packing of teeth is ideal for precision woodworking. The blade creates a very smooth finish that results in precise wood pieces for precise dovetail joinery.

Additionally, it has a rigid back that supports the blade as you make these cuts and a bamboo-wrapped handle that gives you a good grip as you make the cuts. The blade is also quite thin (0.3mm), which fits in tight spaces and ensures you get a very narrow kerf as you shape the joint.  

Despite being this thin, the blade is very strong and this is because it is made using high carbon steel. This blade is also quite long (9.5 in.) and it can be easily removed from the handle for replacement/maintenance purposes. On the downside, it is quite expensive.

Pros:

  • High 26 TPI tooth density
  • Rigid back for blade support
  • Grippy bamboo-wrapped handle
  • Thin 0.3mm blade for tight cutting
  • Tough high carbon steel blade

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

5. Suizan Japanese Saw D-003 – Most Compact Dovetail Saw

Suizan Japanese Saw D-003

Photo: Suizan

  • Blade Length: 6 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.3mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 25
  • Overall Length: 15.5 in.

With a 6 in. blade and an overall length of 15.5 in., Suizan’s Japanese Saw D-003 is the most compact dovetail saw in this review. As such, it is ideal for small projects like cutting dovetail grooves for picture frames.

This blade is using top quality Japanese steel that makes very sharp cuts and it has a stiffening rib that holds it firmly as you stroke it across the wood. It also has a high tooth density of 25 TPI that leaves a very fine finish on your cuts.

These teeth face backward, which means you can only cut by pulling. As a result, you need less energy to make the cut and the cuts are cleaner. This is mostly because the blade is thin (0.3mm) and it leaves a very thin kerf.

Other features include an easily interchangeable blade that is held to the handle by a screw and a cane wrapped wooden handle for firm gripping. However, with its dense teeth packing, the saw cut quite slowly.

Pros:

  • Compact 6-in size
  • Stiffening rib for blade support
  • Rear-facing teeth for pull cutting
  • Easily interchangeable blade
  • Grippy cane-wrapped wooden handle

Cons:

  • Slow cutting

6. Gyokucho Razorsaw 372 – Most Durable Dovetail Saw

Gyokucho Razorsaw 372

Photo: Gyokucho

  • Blade Length: 9.5 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.3mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 21
  • Overall Length: 23 in.

Gyokucho’s Razorsaw 372 has a durable design because it is fitted with a long 9.5-in blade that has impulse-hardened teeth. This process uses wave impulses in a special high frequency and a high peak power to keep the teeth edges tough and sharp for reduced wear.

In addition to this, the blade has a rigid spline that keeps the blade firm and straight even as you cut through tough sections of wood.

With a tooth density of 21 TPI, the saw produces very smooth cuts and is recommended for making dovetail cuts on materials that are up to 1.5-in thick.

The saw also has a traditional rattan-wrapped wooden handle, which is comfortable to hold and gives a good grip. However, it is very expensive to buy.

Pros:

  • Impulse hardened teeth
  • Rigid spline for support
  • Long 9.5-in blade
  • Comfortable and grippy traditional rattan-wrapped wooden handle

Cons:

  • Expensive

7. Gyokucho Ryoba No. 650 – Double Edge Dovetail Saw

Gyokucho Ryoba No. 650

Photo: Gyokucho

  • Blade Length: 9.4 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.5mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 6.7-10.6 & 14.9
  • Overall Length: 22.4 in.

Just like the Suizan Japanese Saw 01, Gyokucho’s Ryoba No. 650 has a double edge razor with different teeth densities on each side.

One side has 6.7-10.6 TPI, with the teeth being densely packed closer to the handle for an easier start. This side cuts faster and aggressively but with a coarse finish, and is recommended for rip cutting.

The other side has a density of 14.9 TPI and this gives smoother cuts. It is recommended for crosscutting. Both sides are impulse hardened for durable use and the teeth have a 1.7mm pitch with a rear-facing shape for pull-stroke cutting.

You also get a relatively long 9.4-in blade and a comfortable rattan-wrapped wood handle. On the downside, this blade is not easily replaceable.

Pros:

  • Dual edge blade for cross and rip cutting
  • Durable impulse hardened teeth
  • Long 9.4-in blade
  • Comfortable rattan-wrapped wood handle

Cons:

  • The blade is not easily replaceable

8. Suizan Japanese Saw 02 – Dovetail Saw with Easily Interchangeable Blades

Suizan Japanese Saw 02

Photo: Suizan

  • Blade Length: 9.5 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.3mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 25
  • Overall Length: 24 in.

Suizan’s Japanese Saw 02 is characterized by an easy-to-interchange blade mechanism, in which a screw is used to hold the blade to the handle. This simplifies the maintenance process because you can easily fit in a new blade, which then makes the saw more durable.

This blade is made using high-quality Japanese steel and it has a stiffening rib that increases its strength for easy cutting of hardwoods.

More features include a dense packing of 25 teeth per inch for smooth finish cutting, a relatively long 9.5-in blade and a wooden handle that is grippy and comfortable to hold. The only problem is that the saw is quite expensive.

Pros:

  • Easily interchangeable blade design
  • High-quality Japanese steel construction
  • Stiffening rib for blade support
  • Dense 25 TPI for smooth cutting
  • Grippy and comfortable wooden handle

Cons:

  • Quite expensive.

9. Irwin 213104 – Flexible Blade Dovetail Saw

Irwin 213104

Photo: Irwin

  • Blade Length: 7.25 in.
  • Teeth Per Inch: 22
  • Overall Length: 14.5 in.

Irwin’s 213104 is fitted with a flexible blade with rear-facing teeth that cut on the pull stroke. This blade design eliminates binding and is ideal for cutting detailed work around windows, interior trim work, and making flush cuts on dowels.

The blade also has densely packed teeth (22 TPI) and although this may cut slowly, it results in very smooth and even cuts. These teeth are induction hardened for durable sharpness.

Attached to the blade is a durable polymer handle, which fits snugly in your palm for comfortable use. You also get a quick-release mechanism for easy blade changes when the installed one wears out.

Pros:

  • Flexible back-stroke blade
  • Produces smooth, even cuts
  • Durable polymer handle
  • Quick-release mechanism for easy blade changes

Cons:

  • Cuts slowly

10. Okada Hardware Mini Dozuki – Dovetail Saw with Impulse Hardened Teeth

Okada Hardware Mini Dozuki

Photo: Okada Hardware

  • Blade Length: 6 in.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.3mm
  • Teeth Per Inch: 18
  • Overall Length: 15.7 in.

Rounding up the list is Okada Hardware’s Mini Dozuki and this model is characterized by impulse-hardened teeth, which ensures they remain sharper for longer. These teeth are quite densely packed (18 TPI) and this makes the blade ideal for crosscutting.  

The saw has a quick-release mechanism that quickly detaches the blade from the handle and is supported by a stiffening rib to keep it firm and steady as you make the cuts. The handle is made of wood and is cane wrapped for durability and firm gripping.

On the downside, the blade is only 6 in. long and this is only suitable for cutting short pieces of wood. 

Pros:

  • Durable impulse-hardened teeth
  • Quick-release mechanism for the blade
  • Stiffening rib for supporting the blade
  • Grippy cane-wrapped wood handle

Cons:

  • Short blade

How to Buy the Best Dovetail Saw

How to Buy the Best Dovetail Saw

Photo: Suizan

1. Blade

There are a couple of factors that you need to consider about the blade. For starters, some have double edges and this gives you a longer cutting surface area to make rip and crosscuts. Such a blade can be found in Suizan’s Japanese Saw 01 and it makes the tool very versatile.

Other than that, you should also check the blade length. Long blades (above 8 in.) are better because they can be used to cut wide or narrow workpieces. However, if you mostly deal with small projects that require short workpieces, a short blade will do.

Thick blades are also slightly better because they are firmer and the saw should have a stiffening rib for better support. That said, the blades under review have either 0.3 or 0.5mm thickness and the difference between them is negligible. Both thicknesses are good enough.

2. Teeth Per Inch

This is a very important factor to consider because it determines the blade’s use. Densely packed teeth that are above 15 TPI are ideal for crosscutting and higher the density, the smoother the cut will be. However, this also means the saw will cut more slowly.

On the other hand, a lower TPI that is about 11 or less is ideal for rip cutting. Such blades cut faster but produce rugged cuts.

Instead of having just one of these, Suizan’s Japanese Saw 01 has a double edge with crosscutting and rip cutting sides. This is highly recommended for versatile use.

3. Handle

A dovetail saw’s handle should be comfortable to hold and have a grippy surface. Polymer and wooden handles are good but wrapped wooden handles are better. They have sort of a ribbed surface that offers a good grip and are also very durable.

That said, some people prefer regular wood or plastic handles and therefore, you have to use it to feel if it is comfortable on your palm.

4. Performance

This tool’s performance is determined by the shape of its teeth. Some have front-facing teeth that cut via the push stroke while others have rear-facing teeth that cut via the pull stroke.

Most modern dovetail saws have rear-facing teeth because cutting via the pull stroke is easier and produces cleaner cuts. We highly recommend this for better cutting performance.

5. Durability

All saw blades are made of a strong metal material, which is usually steel. However, some have hardened teeth that maintain sharpness for longer periods, which makes them very durable. For this, be sure to check out Okada Hardware’s Mini Dozuki.

How to Use a Dovetail Saw 

Before getting down to cutting, you need to determine if the blade is a push or pull type. Most old dovetail saws were designed to cut on the push stroke but modern ones cut on the pull stroke. With this determined:

  • Mark the cut area on your workpiece using a pencil or any marking tool of your preference.
  • Place the blade on the marked spot on the material then push or pull, depending on its type.
  • Apply little pressure on the first strokes to shape the groove. Use long, slow strokes to achieve this.
  • Once the groove gets deeper, use moderate force to cut in short strokes.
  • Do this at a slow pace to avoid ruining the cut.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best dovetail saw is the one that can be used all round in your project. Suizan’s Japanese Saw 01 does just that because it has a versatile double edge blade for making rip cuts and crosscuts. This blade is also very long and is built using high-quality steel for durable use.

However, if you want a saw for high precision joinery, we recommend Z-saw’s 5338ai due to its high 26 TPI tooth density. On the other hand, if you want a long-blade saw for cutting wide workpieces, be sure to check out Robert Larson’s 520-6020.

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