Do I need a saw?
The answer to this is very simple. Yes you do. It is such a useful tool that enables you to harvest green (freshly cut) wood responsibly and you can process seasoned (dried) timber effectively. Partnered up with a decent knife and axe you will have the ultimate set up when it comes to cutting whilst out in your chosen wild place.
Which one should I get?
The first rule is to spend the absolute maximum your budget can allow. Once you have that number in your heady can start conducting your research. Please look in “real” shops as well as on the web as sometimes you can find cracking deals out there. The following five saws are the ones that have held me in good stead throughout my time enjoying this wonderful world of bushcraft. These are my favourites but I’m sure others within the industry will have differing points of view and their favourite go to saw will be different to mine. That’s the beauty of being human; we are all of us different. Thank goodness for that!
I won’t be discussing how fast a blade will cut through certain types of timber or steel construction or the like. You can find this type of detail on YouTube and it will generally be part of the research you should be doing before you spend your hard earned cash. The order they are written in doesn’t suggest that number 1 is the best and so on. It basically goes through from beginner, intermediate and finishes with base camp saws.
The picture below says it all for me when it comes to saws and their safe use.
A quick note on terminology
There is a whole ancient language used when describing cutting tools that may seem odd to folk new to our craft. Here are some explanations to keep you in the know whilst window shopping for your new saw.
- Kerf – this is the actual cut the teeth of the saw make whilst going through the material
- Swarf – the dust produced when creating a kerf
- Saw set – the tools and the way you sharpen the teeth ( all blades in this article are renewable so this won’t really apply)
- Teeth – the cutting edges of the saw
- Back – the non toothy, straight part opposite to the teeth
- TPI – Teeth Per Inch
- Gullet – the low point between the teeth
- Heel – the part closest to the handle
- Toe – the furthest point from the handle
- Crosscut – cutting the wood across its grain
- Ripping – Cutting the wood along its grain
- Set – the angle the teeth protrude sideways from the blade
So without further ado let’s crack on.
1 – The Bacho Laplander saw
This is a fantastic saw for a beginner and expert alike. The safety locking feature is robust and simple to use. Its teeth are set to quite a wide angle to prevent the blade catching and are very efficient at cutting green and seasoned timber so is a great all rounder. The blade is coated to prevent rust and sticking. Its handle is plastic but secure in the hand even when wet. The teeth cut on both the push and the pull so leaves the cut is a little ragged. I have yet to see one of these blades break on any of the courses I have run over the last 15 years. I highly recommend this saw to any outdoor enthusiast who is just beginning their journey in bushcraft.
2 – The Silky Pocketboy
Silky Saws are from Japan but they have plenty of stockists here in the UK and around the world. They are slightly more expensive but for me, they are worth every penny. The teeth aren’t set and cut only on the pull. This leaves you with a “silky” smooth finish to your piece. This prevents infection creeping in to the cut. The handle is rubberised so will stay in your hand on the wettest days. Its locking mechanism lets you know you are safe to cut with a very satisfying click. The blades have an anti-rust coat but do need to be cleaned thoroughly after each use. If you work your blade too hard whilst cutting I’m afraid you run the risk of snapping it. This is why I recommend it only to intermediate users and above. Let the saw do the work for you and this should never happen.
3 – The Silky Gomtaro 300
This is what I use when restoration coppicing. There will be more on that subject later in the year. The teeth set is the same but you can purchase different TPI blades. The handle is angled in such a way it cuts without causing strain on the wrist. Once the cut has been completed the blade is replaced in its hard plastic sheath that is attached to your belt by Scandic-Belt loop. I use a hinge cut when coppicing and this saw is perfect for that task. This saw cross over from small harvesting tasks to cutting the firewood in camp. For me though, it excels at taking down over stood coppice.
4 – The Silky Bigboy
As the name suggests this is a whopper. It isn’t the largest folding saw silky does but this fits my purposes. The Bigboy has all the features of the Pocketboy but is a lot bigger. It has a blade that is just over 14 inches long and the handle is big enough to be gripped by two hands. This is perfect for larger hinge cuts, processing felled wood or for logging fire wood at a fixed camp. It is so easy to use as long as you let the tool do the work. It folds down and fits easily in to a daysack. The Pocketboy is the perfect partner for this saw as it can fit where this blade can’t.
5 – The folding bucksaw
Finally the folding bucksaw. These go way back and are certainly a woodworking project if you feel up to making one. I was gifted this saw years ago and it was made by the late Chris Boyton, a Master bowyer. It packs down in a beautifully simple yet elegant way.
To assemble simply extend the limbs with the saw blade exposed. Insert the stretcher and tighten the string by twisting the string by using the attached toggle. Brilliant.
This saw is a real trooper at the fixed camp. It can handle larger limbs to process in to firewood with ease and can be used by anyone with minimum tuition. Blades are purchased from any garden centre and the user can choose which set of teeth they want. I love this saw for the wow factor I still get when I unpack and assemble it.
Over to you
So, there are my five favourite saws, each different yet each important enough to be used on a regular basis.
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