A stonemason has their chisel, a painter has their thin brushes, and when it comes to woodworking, you need your own specialized tools to make the most precise, impactful cuts. While you could struggle with an old fashioned saw, you can also reach for the purpose-built tool designed for making hair-thin cuts – a dovetail saw.
These specialized saws are designed to provide an extremely tidy finish, even on hardwoods. What’s more, dovetail saws are designed for unmatched maneuverability and balance, allowing you to construct durable furniture and more by hand.
Dovetails saws come in many shapes and sizes, each designed to fill a different niche in the woodworking market. Shopping for a dovetail saw can be a challenge, as a result. But rather than forcing you to do all of that research on your own, I’ve taken the time to test a wide variety of industry-leading models and produce this guide on the top 10 dovetail saws.
Each of these dovetail saws excels in one or more important categories, with everything from precision and balance to length and maneuverability considered. Even if you are adding to your woodshop arsenal on a budget, there is certainly a model among these top 10 best bandsaws that will be able to meet your needs.
Whether you’re planning to affix a piece of furniture with dovetail joints or partake in another precision woodcraft project, I can assure you that there is no better tool for the job than one of the following high-quality dovetail saws.
Best Dovetail Saws – Comparison
|Crown 188 8-Inch 203-mm|
|Rob Cosman’s Dovetail Saw|
|SUIZAN Japanese Hand Saw|
Top 10 Best Dovetail Saws for Detailed Cutting Jobs
After trying each of these saws on a variety of hard and softwoods, I’ve isolated the following models and crowned them as the best available this year. In order to break down what I found uniquely practical about each saw, I’ve written up the following detail-by-detail reviews. Whether I liked the size and cost or the shape and number of teeth per inch, I’m passing on my expert opinions in order to empower you towards making an informed dovetail saw purchase.
1. Crown 188 8-Inch 203-mm Dovetail Saw
As any seasoned craftsman knows, modern hand tools can come from a variety of unknowable sources. Usually, when a friend tells me that their tools were built overseas, I assume the worst. But the Crown 188 proved me right and properly wrong, as it was built with quality and durability in mind.
Crafted in Sheffield, England at a decades-old foundry, this dovetail saw features some of the highest density construction materials on the market. The 0.45-inch width blade itself is made up of specialized high carbon steel which retains durability even after hundreds of uses. However, if this dovetail saw falls a bit on the dull side, you can easily sharpen it back to prime condition.
Even in my short time with this dovetail saw in hand, I found it comfortable to use and hold onto. This was in large part due to its “traditional” handle design, which mimics more familiar, standard style hand saw handles. This handle is also made of a lacquered rosewood, making it both attractive and durable.
With 20 TPI over the length of its 8-inch blade, the Crown 188 will assuredly help you cut some of your cleanest, smoothest dovetail joints ever.
- Crafted in Sheffield, England from high carbon steel
- 0.45 mm blade width
- 20 teeth per inch over an 8-inch blade
- More expensive than average dovetail saws
2. Rob Cosman’s Dovetail Saw
In two words, the Rob Cosman’s Dovetail Saw is “premium grade.” Geared primarily at professional and life-long woodworkers, this model packs in an exceptional number of luxury bonuses that don’t distract from its overall cutting capacity.
In terms of construction, this dovetail saw incorporates a unique multi-TPI design over its 10-inch length. While the first two inches are a “super fine” 22 TPI, the remaining length is a wider 15 TPI. Together, this single saw gives you the capability to create both smooth and ultra-smooth finishes without needing to switch tools.
Though I can’t independently confirm this, I am told that each of these dovetail saws is hand-tested by Rob Cosman himself. I am obliged to believe that, given Rob Cosman’s long track record with honest, hard work, and meaningful endorsements.
Storing the Rob Cosman’s Dovetail Saw also feels more refined than any other. This model comes with a handcrafted aspen and walnut presentation and storage case, making it as much a joy to behold as it is to store away after a long day’s work.
- Hand tested by Rob Cosman himself
- Multi-TPI design, with 22 TPI in first two inches and 15 TPI over the remainder
- Comes in aspen and walnut storage box
- Includes instructional DVD
- Very expensive
- Geared at professionals primarily
3. SUIZAN Japanese Hand Saw 6 inch Dozuki
Many craftsmen are well-adjusted to European-style saws, typified by the “push” action needed to begin their motion. When it comes to dovetail saws, you will need just the opposite, ideally, a “pull” saw in the Japanese tradition like the SUIZAN Japanese Hand Saw 6 inch Dozuki (Dovetail) Pull Saw.
Even among other similarly designed dovetail saws, this SUIZAN model provides an exceptional degree of balance and control while in use. This is primarily because of its lighter weight and lower power initializing threshold. This results in reliably cleaner edges that seamlessly join together without additional sanding.
Additionally, this saw is not cheaply manufactured. Rather, each blade and handle are made by hand in Sanjō, Niigata, Japan. This crafting company has over 100 years of tool making expertise, allowing them to make modern iterations on saws like this one that have long been favored by Japanese carpenter.
With a 30-day money back guarantee, you’ll have plenty of time to test this model out and trade it in for another SUIZAN saw if you aren’t fully satisfied. But I expect you will be, as I was fully satisfied with this dovetail saw’s ability to create balanced cuts using its unique “pull” motion.
- Japanese pull saw style, providing more balanced control
- Handcrafted by craftsmen in Sanjō, Niigata, Japan
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Long shipping window
4. Roamwild Multi Pull Saw PRO Japanese Double
If I were to upgrade to a new dovetail saw, I would gladly opt for the Roamwild Multi Pull Saw PRO Japanese Double Edge Pullsaw. This model combines modern ergonomics and multi-functionality in order to create a dovetail saw that goes above and beyond its base calling
Front and center stand the Roamwild’s unique 2-in-1 blade, one of its key assets. While the first 12-inches of this blade feature a standard 14 TPI arrangement, the later 6.5 inches incorporates a fine cut 22 TPI arrangement. As such, you can use this dovetail saw for both quick angled cuts and slow, precise dowel cuts.
The Roamwild’s ergonomic grip also makes it a dream to use, even after several hours. This grip is angled downward to take the strain off of your wrist and better translate your sawing motion into an accurate cut. With a soft-touch, rubbery construction coating, this dovetail saw provides maximum control by minimizing dangerous slippage as you follow through.
Sawing isn’t all the Roamwild can do. The ergonomic handle also includes a nail puller and a hammerhead, allowing you to get a lot more work done by minimizing how often you need to switch tools. Though sawing isn’t the only thing this model does, I can firmly say that this core functionality is well above par overall.
- Comfortable, ergonomic handle
- 2 in 1 blade design with 14 TPI and 22 TPI edges
- Nail puller and hammerhead built into the handle
- The blade is not very stiff
5. SUIZAN Japanese Double Edge Pull Saw
10x – that’s how much thinner the SUIZAN Japanese Double Edge Pull Saw is when compared to its competition. That’s 10 times as much precision and 10 times as much maneuverability, all packed into one ultra-thin blade. With a minuscule width of 0.0047 inches, you can surely see that I am not overexaggerating – this saw really is the thinnest dovetail saw.
Ultra-precise tools like this tend to have a short life span due to their increased exposure per square inch. The SUIZAN Japanese Double Edge is cognizant of this fatal flaw, allowing you to replace its high-quality blade, thus expanding your dovetail saws lifespan several fold.
This model’s long handle and overall construction are also worth noting. This long handle is ideal for completing long, single-action draws over your desired hard or soft wood, ensuring a consistent cut through and through. You can even choke up on this handle to gain better, more focused leverage if necessary.
Packaged with SUIZAN’s 30-day money back guarantee, you can bet that this dovetail saw is a good investment. But I wouldn’t expect to need a return on this model, though, as it really provides a great deal of cutting capacity over its extended lifespan.
- Ultra-thin 0.0047-inch blade
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Long handle for better leverage options
- The blade cannot be sharpened
6. IRWIN Tools Dovetail/Detail Pull Saw
Buying new woodworking tools on a budget is usually a lost cause. But in the case of dovetail saws, there are some affordable options like the IRWIN Tools Dovetail/Detail Pull Saw. This model manages to preserve a modest price tag while still packing in enough features to make it useful.
With a 7.25-inch flexible blade, this IRWIN model certainly doesn’t skimp on cutting space. Cutting capability hasn’t been trimmed down either, as its 22 TPI orientation helps this saw slice through even tough hardwoods like oak.
This IRWIN dovetail saw won’t leave you with a pain in your wallet or in your hand. That’s because this saw incorporates a rubberized grip and unique pressure pad that optimally translates your forward momentum into the cut, preventing excess strain.
Overall, you certainly couldn’t ask for more a budget-conscious dovetail saw. The IRWIN is a great choice if you want to try out a dovetail saw without putting down a sizable investment.
- Affordably priced
- Flexible, yet firm 7.25-inch blade
- Pressure point handle to optimize leverage
- Only good for short term work
7. Caliastro Japanese Style Dozuki (Dovetail)
While it at first appears to be another Japanese-style pull saw in a crowded field, this Caliastro model manages to distinguish itself through its specialized construction and usage. As such, this is definitely a great dovetail saw for those who are looking to get just a little extra out of their commonplace woodworking tools.
In terms of functionality, this Caliastro model is unique because it actually combines elements of a pull saw and a backsaw together. With a stiff, opposite tooth orientation, this model is easier to control than most others while still creating a precise cut.
The main blade itself clocks in at 6-inches and a 15 TPI count in the total. From my brief use of this model, I can already tell that it would be ideal for not only dovetails but also miters and tenons. This Caliastro model’s handle also makes me like it, given its extra long length. Whether I want to incorporate single- or double-handed usage, I feel confident that this dovetail saw will allow me to do just that.
- 6-inch blade with 15 TPI
- Ideal for cutting dovetails, miters, and tenons
- Combination pull saw and a backsaw design for enhanced precision
- Some assembly required
8. Zona 35-380 Thick Dovetail Saw
Even though the dovetail saw is already a specialized tool, there are even more specialized iterations under its broad umbrella. One such tool is the Zona 35-380 Thick Dovetail Saw, which will quickly become an irreplaceable tool for amateur and professional instrument makers alike.
With a blade at 12.5 inches in length and 0.020 inches in width, the Zona 35-380 has been specially crafted to create an otherwise difficult wood channel – instrument frets. Seen on strung instruments including guitars and mandolins, these frets are indispensable in terms of creating a fully functional instrument.
This model can create up to 1.75-inch deep frets with its 18 TPI, depending on your specific instrument needs. Though I’ve never personally crafted a fretted instrument before, my trusted work associates say that this knife is one of their favorites when it comes to this musical craft.
- 12.5-inch blade, at 0.020 inches thick
- Ideal for cutting instrument frets
- 18 TPI for 1.75 inch deep cuts
- Requires extra pressure to get deep cut
9. Gyokucho 372 Razor Saw Dotsuki Takebiki Saw
I always appreciate a tool that can do more than just one task. The Gyokucho 372 Razor Saw Dotsuki Takebiki Saw passes this test given its multifunctional prowess to complete miter, cross, tenon and dovetail cuts with ease.
These cuts are all accomplished thanks to this model’s 9.5-inch long blade and its 20 TPI. The blade itself has been covered in a specialized hard coating that reduces the chance of corrosion caused by ambient air moisture. This, in the long term, makes this dovetail saw extra durable.
No matter what kind of cutting you initiate with this blade, you can be assured that it’ll come out with a glass-smooth finish. The 0.3mm width and 0.016mm kerf blade ensure this, even if you need to replace it after hundreds of uses. This is not a dovetail saw that will let you down, so give it a solid consideration when it’s time to buy.
- 9.5-inch blade with 20 TPI
- Hard coated blade decreases corrosion
- Leaves glass-smooth finish on hardwoods
- Hard to find replacement blades
10. SUIZAN Japanese Folding Dozuki (Dovetail) Saw
Though this SUIZAN model’s cutting capacity is fairly standard, I want to highlight something truly unique about its construction. Unlike any other dovetail saw on this list, this model alone can fold up and transport safely like a reliable pocket knife.
This fold-up construction not only makes this model more portable, but it also ensures that this saw is only able to cut what you intend it to – and not your hands. Woodshop safety is always paramount for me, so I value this functionality above many other special features.
Finally, I absolutely must highlight this model’s Japanese steel construction. While American steel is prize-worthy, I simply cannot pass up Japanese steel when it is offered because it manages to remain sharper for longer than any other type I’ve used. Though it can sometimes cost a little extra, I consider that upcharge to be an investment in a lighter, more agile steel tool that will serve me for many years to come.
- Unique folding construction for added portability
- Interchangeable blades
- Made reinforced plastic and steel components
- Blades are generally inflexible
All in all, there is a great selection of dovetail saws available to you today. Each model includes unique features and specifications that allow them to accomplish your refined cutting job with both unmatched precision and enhanced maneuverability. Because of the various factors that may affect your dovetail saw choice, I simply cannot endorse one model as the best dovetail saw overall.
But even so, there’s a model to fit every need. For comfortable use, the Roamwild Multi Pull Saw PRO Japanese Double Edge Pullsaw is best. For minuscule cuts, the SUIZAN Japanese Double Edge Pull Sawwill does the job. And for details on a budget, the IRWIN Tools Dovetail/Detail Pull Sawreigns supreme.
As an expert, I can confidently say that what matters most when buying a dovetail saw is how well it performs when it comes to fulfilling your specific woodworking needs – especially if you plan to make dovetail joints.