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Tenon Saws Vs Dovetail Saws

Tenon saws vs. dovetail saws

Shop for Tenon Saws
Shop for Dovetail Saws
Tenon saw and Dovetail saw Tenon and dovetail saws are often referred to as ‘back saws’ because they both have a metal or wooden spine running along the back of their blade.

This spine serves the same purpose on each saw – to keep the blade rigid when sawing, and to add weight to the saw, meaning less effort is require by the user to make cuts.

Side by side these two hand saws look very similar, but they do have a few subtle differences.

Tenon saw

Tenon Saw A tenon saw is designed specifically for cutting the cheeks and shoulders of a tenon joint.
Mortise and tenon joint with a tenon saw


Compared to a dovetail saw, it has a wider, thicker blade with a lower TPI count.

Tenon saw teeth


Because cutting tenon joints usually involves cutting across the grain of wood, a tenon saw has ‘crosscut’ teeth, which allow it to do this.

Dovetail saw

Dovetail saw A dovetail saw is designed specifically for cutting dovetail joints.
Dovetail Saw, purpose, blade, teeth


Compared to a tenon saw, it has a shorter, thinner blade with a higher TPI.

Rip teeth, dovetail saw


Cutting dovetail joints usually involves cutting along the grain, and so a dovetail saw has ‘rip’ teeth, which allow it to do this.

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