4 Woodworking Projects for You to Use Your Japanese Saw

A Japanese saw is a small, woodworking handsaw from—you guessed it—Japan. One of the main differences between the Japanese saw and its Western corollary is that it cuts on the pull stroke, not the push stroke. This seemingly insignificant detail makes a world of difference. Pushing saws require a thick blade to prevent flexing as the user pushes on the handle. A Japanese saw, however, is much thinner by comparison because less force is required to make a cut. Therefore, the blade is much thinner and can make a narrower cut. A Japanese saw can be used for any woodworking project that you would normally use a handsaw for, but because of their unique way of cutting, they can make your work much easier. There are several kinds of Japanese saw, including the Dozuki, Ryoba, Azebiki, Mawashibiki and Kaeba. It is recommended that you make many practice cuts to orient yourself with the tool before getting down to business.

Joint Cutting

Any project that requires you to cut joints is a good time to use your Japanese saw. For joint cutting you should use a Dozuki or Ryoba. Begin as normal by using a square to mark your cut lines. When making the cut, it is important to angle the saw slightly, not parallel to the wood you are cutting. Check the cutting line frequently to make sure you are cutting in the correct place.


The Japanese saw is a good choice for any crosscut you need to make. Use the Ryoba for great crosscuts. First, use a square to mark a line on the board face. The wood should be placed low enough that you can kneel on it for support. Again, keep the saw blade at a slight angle as you complete the cut.

Board Ripping

Ripping a board just means to cut it lengthwise, and this is another great time to use your Japanese saw. Use the Ryoba saw, which is great for ripping. Start by marking your cut line with a pencil. Next, secure the board either with a vice or on a low bench. Hold the saw at an angle and begin to cut, checking the cut line often. Alternately, it is possible to put the board on a tilted surface and cut with the saw parallel to the floor.

Hand-cut Dovetail Joints

Dovetail joints require quite a bit of work and precision cutting and are common in making drawers. Begin by marking the tails on the face and then mark your square lines on the back of the board. After that, saw out the tails. Next, use clamps to attach the tail board to the edge of the corresponding board. Mark out the pins with a square and marking knife. Finally, saw out the remainder of the pins, being sure to saw slowly and carefully.