Tool Review: Marples’ Japanese Style Saws

Some new gear found its way into my home-shop.  I’ve recently bought the Marples/Irwin-branded version of this saw by Shark:

Ryoba!

The manufacturer patterned this saw after Japanese ryoba saws.  Some quick thoughts – it has two saw blades.  The larger teeth (the 8ish ppi) side seems to excel at ripping, while the 17ppi side excels at cross-cutting.  I have no idea whether the saw was designed in this way, but that’s the way she works for me.  It’s two handed design allows the saw to cut quite fast and straight.  Bench hooks seem to be completely useless though, so to use one, I need a vise of some sorts to hold work steady.  I’m unsure if there’s a way to use this guy one-handed, similar to a Western saw, although there are pull-saws which are designed to do so.  If I had a perfect vise in the workshop at school, instead of the semi-decent stuff I have now, I might think about these in a classroom setting.  At the moment, I’ve found a replacement for my backsaw and toolbox saw.  In the home workshop.

I also picked up the dovetail pull-saw.  What a sweet little machine.  Here’s the saw,

Dovetail pull Saw

and a shot of a half-lap joint I cut with it. One comment.  The blade is semi-fragile.  I managed to kink it within a few hours of use.  I probably just wailed on it to hard.  So watch out.

The Dovetail Saw cut the two on the bottom. The top joint is the part I'm trying to replace.

I hope this puts a few new options in your saw sheath.  So you can be like Julis Ceaser.  You came, you saw, it fell in two.

Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this week.

7 thoughts on “Tool Review: Marples’ Japanese Style Saws

  1. I used to own one of these myself and found the same problem, with the thin blade being so easy to kink. Although, I did manage to make mine last about a year!

    Another problem is that they seem to lose their edge fairly quickly but then, they also have a high number of teeth. I’ve tried similar products from other manufacturers and they seem to be about the same.

    There’s only one thing that’s put me off from buying a new blade for it – the fact that a replacement blade costs almost as much as a complete saw with the handle! (In the UK, at least.)

  2. I’ve owned a ryoba saw for years. It took me awhile to learn to use it accurately and without kinking it. They can definitely be used one-handed – in fact using both hands gets in the way (or at least it did for me – I no longer even consider using both hands). I’ve found that working from the shoulder seems best.

    I just bought one of the Marples/Irwin saws the other day, to get the narrower kerf, and it’s a pleasure to use. To keep from kinking the blade, I bear down only lightly on the pull and not at all on the return, letting the teeth do all the work. I still intend to get a dozuki saw tho (the one with the spine) because the little marples saw isn’t really meant for accurate cutting, though as you found it’ll do it if you’re careful.

    1. I should come back to this post. The small “dovetail” saw kinked apart and had a few teeth knocked out within two weeks. I use it as an all-around small saw at work. In the home shop I now use a dozuki saw for joinery cuts. And I won’t go back.

      The ryoba has held up well over the last few months. It’s sharp and I haven’t kinked it yet. Crosscuts are a breeze, although rip cuts can be an issue. In the long rip, the saw tends to wander from the line in my inexperienced hands.

  3. I own 3 Irvin/Marple dovetail saws. I really enjoy the convenience, and the clean cut they give. However, as nice as the cuts are, you do kink the blade once in a blue, especially when it concerns semi hardwoods like sycamore, soft maple, walnut and the like. The teeth also eventually wear. I have yet to find replacement blades for these saws. I will eventually switch over to the Sears brand, as they do sell replacement blades for theirs. Had I known Sears distributes a comparable saw, I would have gone with them at first, due to the replacement blade availability.

    1. Robert –

      Since I’ve written this post, I’ve upgraded my saw collection. Try the truly Japanese saws from japanwoodworker, Woodcraft, Rockler or Lee Valley. All have replacement blades and cut like butter. Kinking holds true, but the blades can be replaced. Price is about three times the performance of the Marples, and about ten times better in performance.

    1. This review is 5+ years old. These saws were never really meant to have replacement blades. Even the expensive Japanese-style saws are cheaper to buy new than replace the blades. Check out Harbor Freight for a great price on a saw that works just as good as this saw.

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