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The Best Dovetail Saws (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Take your woodworking to the next level with these top-rated dovetail saws.

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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON December 23, 2020

If you tackle precision projects, you need a high-quality dovetail saw in your corner. Woodworking is a massive industry, ranging from commercial applications to those tackling projects as a hobby. In either case, the ability to join parts precisely together is necessary. The difference of a mere quarter-inch can make or break the piece, especially when you’re crafting something that needs balance. When it comes to sculpting, a dovetail saw enables you to create precise and accurate lines in the easiest way possible.

 

Of course, for this to work, you need an effective tool that is easy to control. It should have an easy-grip handle and a lightweight yet strong blade to carve away the wood efficiently. To help you in your search, we’ve broken down the best dovetail saws on the market.

Best Overall
Suizan Dovetail Handsaw
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Summary
Summary

Sleek and sturdy, this saw cuts well with the lightest push. Both analog and lightweight, the strong blade is made of high-grade steel.

Pros
Pros
  • Strong design that is easy to handle
  • Features replaceable blade
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Handle attaches well to the blade
Cons
Cons
  • Serrated edge of the blade features somewhat large teeth
  • Push/pull saw mechanism minimizes precision
Best Overall
Suizan Dovetail Handsaw
Best Value
Irwin Dovetail Saw
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Summary
Summary

Incorporating a spring-loaded blade that you can reverse, you can cut both left and right-handedly.

Pros
Pros
  • Thick blade makes precise cuts easily
  • Long blade gives you a good reach
  • Handle is easy to grip
  • Comes at an affordable price.
Cons
Cons
  • Handle is somewhat small relative to the blade
  • Can be difficult to control with its heavy blade
Best Value
Irwin Dovetail Saw
 
Gyokucho Razorsaw
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Summary
Summary

Featuring a strong handle and 7-inch blade, this saw has a handle that tilts slightly to let you reach difficult spaces.

Pros
Pros
  • Saw is lightweight and easy to use
  • Gives you access to corners and challenging angles
  • Sturdy and durable
Cons
Cons
  • Attachment between handle and blade weakens over time
  • Wood material on the handle can cause splinters
Gyokucho Razorsaw
Man using dovetail saw
Amazon

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Benefits of Dovetail Saw

  • Provides a clean finish. A quality dovetail saw lets you complete woodworking projects with an incomparable level of precision. Depending on the size of the saw, you can tackle small corners and even wood carving projects. 
  • Enables small and precise cuts. Dovetail saws are ideal for making small cuts that a larger saw would overdo. The precision feature helps with accuracy, an important trait in furniture making and decorative woodworking. 
  • Helps you make dovetail joints. Dovetail joints require the precise fit of two parts of wood. Even a small overage of wood at the connection can compromise the entire build. A dovetail saw won’t aggressively cut the wood, making it a good choice. 
  • Easy to maintain. In most cases, dovetail saws are made out of high-grade steel. Not prone to rust or corrosion, it’s easy to sharpen the edge of the dovetail saw and keep it working for a very long time.
  • Durable and long-lasting tools. Like most popular handsaws, you can sharpen the edges and keep the saw in use for a long time. Especially if you keep the handle in good condition, dovetail saws are long-lasting.

Types of Dovetail Saws

Dual-Edged

Depending on the project you’re going to be tackling, the efficiency and power of the dual-edged dovetail saw are desirable. Like all dovetail saws, it features a long metal blade that connects to the handle. However, unlike the single-edged counterparts, their blade is serrated on both sides. It can cut powerfully and lets you use either hand to use the saw. 

Single-Edged

Perhaps the most common type of dovetail saw the single-edged sort features a long blade that connects to the handle. Ideally, the handle is sturdy and balances well against the blade itself. With a single-edged type, only one side of the blade is serrated. It lets you cut precisely, though you can only cut with one hand unless the blade is replaceable. 

Top Brands

IRWIN

Opening its doors in 1885, Irwin is based in North Carolina. Despite its humble origins, this tool company has grown into a leading supplier of industrial tools on the international market. Among its top selections is the Irwin Dovetail Saw.

SUIZAN

Commencing operations more than a century ago, this Japanese company continues to focus on crafting high-quality hand tools. Now a top supplier of precision handheld equipment across the world, Suizan has developed a wide range of woodworking supplies. A leading product from this brand is the Suizan Dozuki Dovetail Hand Saw.

GYOKUCHO

Founded in 1977, this Japanese company continues to offer a wide range of handheld saws. Useful for woodworking and industrial applications alike, the brand remains popular across the globe. One of its top offerings is the Gyokucho Razorsaw Ryoba Saw.

Dovetail Saw Pricing

  • Under $20: Dovetail saws in this price range tend to be quite lightweight and easy to handle. You can find either single-sided or dual-sided saws. Though useful, not all will have replaceable blades. 
  • $20 and up: In this price range, you can find high-quality handheld saws that usually have replaceable blades. Easy to maintain and long-lasting, most dovetail saws are priced in this range. 

Key Features

Blade

In essence, dovetail saws consist of blades and handles. The blade is the utility feature that incorporates serrated teeth on the edge. Teeth size varies based on the saw, though the smaller the teeth, the more precise the result. Blades will either have a cutting edge on one or two sides, indicating the type of the blade. The iconic design of a dovetail saw has the blade growing wider as it gets further from the handle. 

Handle

The second essential feature of a dovetail saw is the handle. This is the component that gives you control over the saw while you move it on the surface. Most handles are moderately sized and extend less than a third of the length of the blade. Quality saws have a blade that’s attached firmly to the handle. This part should be easy to grip and very sturdy. 

Other Considerations

  • Replaceable Blades. If you are a serious woodworker, or use the saw for professional purposes, then it is important to find something with a replaceable blade. Especially if the handle lets you use the saw comfortably, opt for something that lets you swap out the blade. It is also a good way to go for more distinctly serrated blades which may be more challenging to sharpen.
  • Left- or Right-Handed. Though, if you are ambidextrous this isn’t much of a concern, if you rely mainly on one hand for your woodworking, consider the handle and style of the saw. When you lay it down flat, at which direction does the sharp edge point. It will be the opposite hand which controls the saw. If you plan to tackle more nuanced projects, opt for a dual-edged blade. 
  • Maintenance Needs. All tools have certain requirements for upkeep, and dovetail saws are not exempt from this need. You will need to keep the saw clean and dry, in addition to storing it properly. To accommodate, be sure that the saw will fit with your other tools; that it won’t be exposed to moisture or in a place where the handle could get broken. 
  • Precision. When it comes down to it, the finer the teeth, the better the saw will be at precision tasks. Though it might work more slowly, the level of accuracy is noticeably higher with fine-toothed saws. Larger tasks where you are looking for force over focus can benefit a lot from larger teeth. 
  • Material Quality. You’ll want to take a look at the material used in the construction of the saw. In terms of the handle, it needs to be tough enough to withstand pressure and force from various angles. The blade ought to be made out of durable steel, ideally one that went through the galvanization process. 

Best Dovetail Saw Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Suizan Dovetail Handsaw

If you’re looking for a tool that can take your woodworking to the next level, then the Suizan Dovetail Handsaw is a good option. It is designed as a pull saw, so the teeth are structured to create a precise cut when you retract the saw. Crafted to be lightweight and easy to control, you can achieve a smooth line while applying minimal force. Thanks to the structure of the teeth on the serrated edge, you can easily dust it and keep the blade sharp. The handle is sturdy and lets you use the blade with either hand. At the top of the blade is a stopper that adds safety and stabilizes the blade. Getting moderately wider as it extends, this powerful saw is a great way to go for those who are focused on precision results.


While it is very high quality, it is only a single-sided saw, so the edge will wear down. However, since there are replacement blades available, this isn’t too much of a concern.

Best Value
Irwin Dovetail Saw

Working within a budget and need a saw that is easy to control and performs well? Consider the Irwin Dovetail Saw for its affordable price and high utility value. The handle is made out of a durable polymer that is structured to keep your hand comfortable as you work. In terms of utility, the saw can be used with both your left and right hand. The blade is 10 inches long and two inches wide, making this a very powerful solution. With prominent teeth that make cutting easy (even when you can’t apply a lot of force), it remains sharp over long periods. Featuring a safety at the top, this single-sided blade is great for renovations and crafting. 


Keep in mind that, though this dovetail saw is heavy duty, it doesn’t have the iconic design where the blade gets wider as it distances from the handle. If a single size works for you, however, this is a good choice.

Most Versatile
Gyokucho Razorsaw

Those seeking a high-quality dovetail saw that emulates a traditional appearance and utility can benefit from the Gyokucho Razorsaw. It incorporates a blade that is seven inches long and silver in color. As a throwback to the original dovetail saws, the blade gets moderately wider as it gets further from the handle. With a total length of 15 inches, it touts a very long handle for added control and sturdiness. Its wooden construction resists rust and remains sturdy when exposed to the elements, so long as it is properly maintained. Fitting in with your standard woodworking tools, this dual-edged blade makes for a powerful saw. 


It’s worth noting that, while the handle is sturdy, it shouldn’t be left damp since this can result in warping. Keep the entire saw in a secure location to get the most benefit out of it.

Most Durable
Two Cherries Dovetail Saw

The Two Cherries Dovetail Saw is a fantastic option for those who seek a heavy-duty saw to last throughout several projects. It is crafted using top-quality materials and features a unique blade-to-handle ratio. The single-edged blade is 10 inches long and incorporates 15 teeth for every inch, making it a very fine-toothed and precise model. Constructed using sturdy steel, it is thin enough to get into tiny spaces without the risk of warping or damage. Attached to the base by the blade’s safety, this part both reinforces the steel and secures it to the wooden handle. A great way to efficiently cut joints, this tool is built to last. 


It’s important to consider that, though the saw is powerful, the handle is pretty small. So, while it is good for experienced professionals, it may be challenging for newer users.

Most Ergonomic
Life Saw Flush Cutting Handsaw

If you need a saw that is going to make your next household project easier, the Life Saw Flush Cutting Hand Saw is a worthy candidate. Not only does it come at a friendly price point, but the saw is also designed to enhance your speed and control. Specifically crafted for use on everything from pegs to tenons, it can act in the stead of a tenon saw. With a moderately-sized blade, the single-edge saw gives you full control over your cuts. A polymer handle makes grip easy (and the red color makes it easy to spot the tool in a messy area). The blade isn’t prone to bending and warping, plus the teeth are powerful and very sharp. 


Though this tool isn’t suitable for professional applications, its cost-effectiveness and ease of use make this saw well worth a shout out on this list.

Honorable Mention
Zona Fine Dovetail Saw

Hunting for something that will improve your woodcarving? Take a look at the Zona Fine Dovetail Saw for its strong handle, sleek blade, and lightweight design. It is manufactured specifically for modeling, something showcased by the length and style of the blade. The same width throughout, the blade is six and a half inches long. Useful for more than just wood, if you incorporate polymers or metals like brass and copper in your art, this saw can cut them as well. The handle is made of polished wood, treated with a coating that will both prevent slivers and make it easier to keep a steady grip. Lightweight and easy to use, this tool is ideal for those seeking precision and accuracy. 


Bear in mind that, though it is great for aesthetically focused work, the smaller blade length makes it less pragmatic for more industrial purposes. Stick to carving and detailing for best results.

Honorable Mention
Irwin Flexible Dovetail Saw

Want something that combines the virtues of the traditional with the utility of modern tools? Check out the Irwin Flexible Dovetail Saw for its unique design and ease of use. While traditional dovetail saws feature a flat and angular blade, this model has a curved end. On the serrated side of the blade are fine-toothed protrusions that let you cut smoothly without straining yourself. At 22 teeth per inch, the edge isn’t prone to wearing down even with continual use. It meets a smooth handle that is constructed using a high-grade polymer. It’s easy to grip and helps you maintain control while using this saw. Holding firmly in place, the blade won’t slip from its hold regardless of the angle from which you’re working. 


It warrants a mention that, though the saw is really handy to use, the curved end of the blade makes it less of a traditional dovetail saw and more of a hybrid tool.

Honorable Mention
Suizan Japanese Dozuki Dovetail Saw

If you’re looking for something that you can use on everything from major projects to fine details, the Suizan Japanese Dozuki Dovetail Saw is a worthy contender. Its most noteworthy feature is the prominent handle that gives you a good grip and enables you to work at multiple angles with full control. The wooden design is both stylish and pragmatic since it isn’t vulnerable to rust and it won’t warp. The handle connects to the blade protector which covers the non-serrated part of the saw, while also ensuring it stays in place stably. The steel blade itself features very moderate teeth that extend over the full 6 inches. Getting wider as it gets further from the handle, the blade is both precise and durable.


Keep in mind that, though the saw is versatile, the wooden handle requires indoor storage and proper care. Ensure that it stays dry to prevent damage to the handle’s structure and to help keep the blade in place.

Tips

  • Keep the saw clean and dry in between uses to prevent rust and corrosion from building up on the blade. 
  • Store your dovetail saw indoors and away from other tools. Since most saws don’t come with a sheath, it helps to keep it covered to keep dust off the surface. 
  • Be sure that the blade is properly mounted in the handle to prevent issues when you are using the saw. 
  • Check if the saw is a push or pull model. Most western selections are push-style saws, meaning you move forward to cut. Eastern designs often feature a pull-style blade. 

FAQs

Q. What is the difference between a dovetail saw and a tenon saw?

Though the saws have a lot of similarities, dovetail and tenon saws have different designs when it comes to the blade. Tenon saws are built for power, featuring large teeth that are sharpened to cut quickly. Dovetail saws incorporate more subtle teeth and are better for precision.

Q. What is the use of a dovetail saw?

Dovetail saws are used for all types of woodworking projects. Their precision abilities let you use them on carving projects. The long blade and good control lend to use with dovetail joints. It keeps the wooden parts flush with one another and ensures a good fit where the pieces meet.

Q. How do you sharpen a dovetail saw?

Sharpen your saw using a file. The size of the file will depend on the shape and dimensions of the teeth. A good place to start is identifying how many teeth per inch are on the blade. The higher the number, the thinner the file you will need. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the ins and outs of dovetail saws, you can make your pick. It could be the Suizan Dovetail Handsaw or the excellent value of the Irwin Dovetail Saw. There’s an option for every project. 

Do you have a story about woodworking? Let us know in the comments below. Happy sawing!