Philadelphia drawers typically had very thin White Cedar sides; 1/2" or 3/8" was fairly typical. You need fine teeth to cut thin wood. I see 1/4" and even 3/16" stock in the drawers of secretaries. Technically this calls for an even finer tooth. The general rule of thumb is to have about 6 teeth in the kerf. So 1/4" stock would need a 24 tooth saw. 1/2" stock would need 12 teeth at least. On solution is to double up the sides of tiny drawers. This is a good idea for many reasons. And this works okay until you get to the half blinds in the drawer fronts. All I need you to know is that you choose the number of teeth in an inch (what I call pitch) based on the thickness of stock you work. There are no "standard" saw teeth.



This picture shows the technique I use to saw dovetails. I start at the corner and work down on both lines. I know that some prefer to nick the far corner quickly, then saw straight across the end grain (or just start on the end grain). Please tell me if this is how you do it. Craftsmen who saw this way benefit a bit more rake. Rake is the angle the front of a tooth makes with an imaginary line intersecting the tips of the teeth. A tooth with 0 or no rake is perpendicular to the toothed edge of the saw. A saw with no rake will be more aggressive (and more difficult to start a cut) than a saw with 5 degrees of rake. When people talk about a "smooth" cutting saw, they are usually responding to a saw with a good bit of rake. A saw with a lot of rake will cut more slowly than a saw with less rake. Also, very hard woods don't respond well to aggressively filed saws with little or no rake to their teeth. If you work with very hard woods or is you prefer to start saw cuts in end grain (as opposed to sawing out a corner) you'll benefit from saws with a bit more rake.



My dovetail saws are based loosely on the Dalaway saws, made in Birmingham England in the mid 18th century. See the CWF publication "Eighteenth-Century Woodworking Tools: Papers Presented at a Tool Symposium May 19-22, 1994". The top horn stands up a bit higher than later saws and the handle is a bit more perpendicular to the teeth. The spines of 18th c saws were often iron or steel. I've not yet developed the ability to work with ferrous spines efficiently so I'm only offering brass spines.



9" Drawer Saw (top) $155
  • 9" long blade, .020 thick saw plate, 1095 steel, approx. 50 RcC, blade depth is 1-1/8"- 1-1/2"
  • 1/4"x 3/4" brass spine, beech handle, brass split nut hardware
  • 16ppi/15tpi, rip, 5 degrees rake, light set

I designed this saw for drawer making. The pitch (ppi/tpi) is a good compromise for 1/2" and smaller stock and is relatively easy to sharpen yourself with a 4" double extra slim saw file. If you saw across end grain or work very hard woods, ask for a bit more rake.

11" Carcase Saw (bottom) $175
  • 11" long blade, .020 thick saw plate, 1095 steel, approx. 50 RcC, blade depth is 1-1/4"- 1-5/8"
  • 1/4"x 3/4" brass spine, beech handle, brass split nut hardware
  • 14-15ppi/13-14tpi (progressive pitch), rip, 5 degrees rake, light set

I designed this saw expressly for sawing the dovetails at the corners of carcases. 18th c carcases are typically 7/8" thick so naturally one needs a longer and coarser saw to cut these quickly and efficiently. I think its a very good idea to saw your carcase dovetails and assemble the carcase in one day. This is especially important when working with wide stock or when the tops and sides are different species. Even a slight bit of differential shrinkage can cause fits. I don't care who's saw you buy but I really recommend using a saw designed for this purpose and not spending extra time with a drawer saw.

This saw in particular is a bit narrower (less blade depth) than some on the market. The closer your hand is to the teeth, the more control you've got. I really like the feel of this saw.

Dovetail Saws