Advice needed: Which hand saw for shortening a wa handle?

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DitmasPork

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I'm looking to shorten an ebony wa handle. What's the most appropriate hand saw to use? I'm looking for something rather inexpensive; small, since I'm in a NYC apartment with only a small kitchen counter as work space.

Based on my limited research—a dovetail saw seems to fit the bill. Any advice, or words of caution appreciated. Cheers!
 
Any kind of saw would work. You're literally only cutting like 1 inch worth of wood. I'd lean more toward something with higher TPI to get a cleaner cut, and you can refinish the edges with fine sandpaper afterward. I personally use a pull saw, but even a $5 hacksaw would get the job done just as well.
 
I've had good luck with a clamp-to-the-counter vise and a cheap (<$10) small hacksaw with a fine blade - all done in my apartment. Took maybe a minute of sawing to get through a few handles I've done. With a high enough TPI (teeth per inch) the cut will be clean enough and another 10 minutes with sand paper and then an overnight soak in mineral oil will have things looking like it was always that length.

Things to look out for are keeping your cut straight and smooth and checking how much you can take off before hitting your tang slot.
 
I've had good luck with a clamp-to-the-counter vise and a cheap (<$10) small hacksaw with a fine blade - all done in my apartment. Took maybe a minute of sawing to get through a few handles I've done. With a high enough TPI (teeth per inch) the cut will be clean enough and another 10 minutes with sand paper and then an overnight soak in mineral oil will have things looking like it was always that length.

Things to look out for are keeping your cut straight and smooth and checking how much you can take off before hitting your tang slot.
Good point about the tang. To get an idea of where the metal knife tang ends, you can use a strong magnet. I use a stud finding magnet because that's what I already have available at home. However, this won't necessarily tell you how deep the existing tang hole is, which varies depending on the handle maker. But around 110-120mm is about the deepest that I've seen a tang hole for a 240mm knife. I doubt the OP would want to make your handle shorter than that, so shouldn't be an issue.
 
Silky PocketBoy 130mm folding saw with fine or extra fine teeth. It's a Japanese pull-cut saw that's well made and easy to store. I've had mine for over a decade and it's perfect for apartment living.

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A gents saw would probably be an idea, depending on how it's filed and set. For your application, you'd want the saw to be filed "cross-cut" since you'd be cutting across the grain.

Dovetail saws are primarily filed "rip", so not necessarily the best solution.

Guiding the saw accurately will probably be your biggest challenge, depending on how much taper the handle has from front to back. The vise will probably have parallel jaws, but the knife-handle may not have parallel sides. A few wraps of tape around the "skinniest part" of the knife-handle might help.

1649792610935.png
 
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A coping saw would work well,, has a small kerf and you can sand the end when you are done.
Probably less than 10 bucks at the hardware store, or borrow one from a friend.
 
I've had good luck with a clamp-to-the-counter vise and a cheap (<$10) small hacksaw with a fine blade - all done in my apartment. Took maybe a minute of sawing to get through a few handles I've done. With a high enough TPI (teeth per inch) the cut will be clean enough and another 10 minutes with sand paper and then an overnight soak in mineral oil will have things looking like it was always that length.

Things to look out for are keeping your cut straight and smooth and checking how much you can take off before hitting your tang slot.

Cheers. 🗜 Clamp to the counter is a no-go, since my counter can’t accommodate a clamp/vice.
You point about the tang slot is a good one that I’ve been thinking about. My handle is 145mm, considering lopping off maybe 10–15mm.
Any idea of if there’s a typical depth for tang slots?
 
Cheers. 🗜 Clamp to the counter is a no-go, since my counter can’t accommodate a clamp/vice.
You point about the tang slot is a good one that I’ve been thinking about. My handle is 145mm, considering lopping off maybe 10–15mm.
Any idea of if there’s a typical depth for tang slots?

I have to imagine that you'd be safe taking that little off, but I absolutely do not have enough experience here to speak confidently on the matter. I've done this three times and twice I had the handle off and measured depth using a narrow dowel in the slot and compared to my planned cut line - the third time I had just had a bottle of wine while cooking dinner and decided to send it while waiting to pull the lasagna out of the oven - its always worked out okay, but maybe I'm just lucky.

I will also add that I think you may find it difficult to get a clean cut with a hand saw if you can't secure the handle somehow.
 
I have to imagine that you'd be safe taking that little off, but I absolutely do not have enough experience here to speak confidently on the matter. I've done this three times and twice I had the handle off and measured depth using a narrow dowel in the slot and compared to my planned cut line - the third time I had just had a bottle of wine while cooking dinner and decided to send it while waiting to pull the lasagna out of the oven - its always worked out okay, but maybe I'm just lucky.

I will also add that I think you may find it difficult to get a clean cut with a hand saw if you can't secure the handle somehow.
I’ve steady hands—just planning on holding handle down firmly, but yeah lots of risks to consider. I may wait until I’m in Hawaii next month, and make use of my dad’s saw and vice—he’s got a whole tool shed.
 
be careful to not go too high relative to the internal tang hole depth
Yeah, that’s the tang hole depth is the major unknown factor for me. Hopefully 10mm off a 145mm handle should be safe. Is there an average tang length for Japanese 240s?
 
you can probably loose 10mm, but its going to be cutting it close on some handles, and if you do a traditional burn in, you may see smoke escape from the bottom of the handle in that area. Initial hole size of brand new handles insnt always too deep, but usually about 70% of handle length plus or minus a bit. If a knife has already been installed once, it may be deeper. You can use the thin end of your calipers to measure depth.
 
you can probably loose 10mm, but its going to be cutting it close on some handles, and if you do a traditional burn in, you may see smoke escape from the bottom of the handle in that area. Initial hole size of brand new handles insnt always too deep, but usually about 70% of handle length plus or minus a bit. If a knife has already been installed once, it may be deeper. You can use the thin end of your calipers to measure depth.

Cheers. Appreciate the response, I wasn't planning on removing the blade from handle, but just sawing off 10mm—not ideal I know. Gotta ponder.

I may hold off, since it might be too close for comfort—also, not essential for it to be done.
 
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Saw I would use is very similar to the one @Bobby2shots shows in his pic, in the wood working business back in the day we called it a strong back saw to get fine straight cuts with no flex in the blade. Most hardware stores carry them and some have very fine cutting edges and they are not expensive.
 
For cutting off the end of a handle you really don't need a Japanese saw you'll never use again.
My vote would also be hacksaw with a high TPI count. Doesn't matter if it's meant for steel.

To get a clean cut, clamp or tie another small piece of wood to the bottom flat of the piece you're sawing off and saw that off with the handle itself. (I hope this makes sense)
This way you prevent tear out at the bottom.
Also don't push down hard on it, let the saw do the work.
 
Saw I would use is very similar to the one @Bobby2shots shows in his pic, in the wood working business back in the day we called it a strong back saw to get fine straight cuts with no flex in the blade.

+1
that's the kind of saw that came to my mind for this, fwiw.

it's called a dozuki. or at least there's a japanese saw called dozuki that looks just like it. super thin, flexible blade with stiffener on its spine. precise cuts with thin kerf. perfect for making joints and that kind of stuff.
 
This will get it done:
1649876154180.png

https://www.amazon.com/35-241-35-55...9876043&sprefix=zona+saw,aps,124&sr=8-24&th=1
Or, you can buy the box and the saw with a slightly lower tpi (32 vs. the 42 linked above) separately:
https://www.amazon.com/Zona-35-260-...d=1649876043&sprefix=zona+saw,aps,124&sr=8-16
https://www.amazon.com/Zona-35-500-...id=1649876043&sprefix=zona+saw,aps,124&sr=8-6
Avoid a coping saw, as you won't get a good straight cut (coping saw blades are only 1/8" tall and ideal for cutting curves). Similarly, a hacksaw is not the best option. The height of the saw blade is what's keeping your cut nice and straight. The little saws above only run $10-15, so won't break the bank, and are pretty handy to have around in general.
 
Also, you might not want a flush cut at the end - i.e. you might want to create a facet around the base of the handle or at least break the edge. I would use a sharp box plane for that. You could probably do it with careful sanding though.
 
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