Friday, November 21, 2008

Veritas Dovetail Saw

So Lee Valley have taken pity and given us something to chew over whilst we await the Great Unveiling next week. Incidentally, this something I didn't know would be unveiled earlier than next week, so I've done some serious speed writing/photography here to get you early info:

For the hyper-sensitive, I should note that comparison was made with the LN simply because it's probably the most widely known of the existing dovetail saws, so it acts as a useful benchmark. 

Anyway, I just know the reader's going to have an opinion on this one, so I want to see my inbox overflowing with comments! Queries, questions etc all welcome too. 


  1. Thanks for an excellent review, Alf.

    The saw clearly works well and is excellent value. It's an innovative design and the replaceable handle feature is good.

    But, oh dear, it looks horrible. I'm a firm believer that beautiful tools help you to do beautiful work - but that saw ain't no beauty.

    I have two Wenzloffs - they work beautifully and they look beautiful. The Veritas seems to work beautifully but is plain ugly.

    Maybe if I were to try one I could learn to love it but, on looks, it's a bit of a disappointment.

    Cheers ;-)

    Paul Chapman

  2. Now I know what was missing. :o)

  3. The saw was revealed at the "woodworking in America" conference.
    The looks are different, and seem to grow on you. One of prototypes shown at wia was one with a white blade. When I saw it I thought maybe it was a ceramic blade which would have been really exciting, but alas, just a piece of white plastic for the prototype.
    This can only be a good thing, providing an entry level, quality saw.

  4. Mike, yeah, only discovered that after the event - I avoided looking for any other discussion on it until I'd done.

    As for it's looks, I rather like it - but then I've had a couple of years to get used to the idea since I saw the first computer rendering. However my dad has not, and he was still inclined to say 'can I have it?' 'For when you take up dovetailing?' sez I, sarcastic like. 'Well actually... with that saw I might.' I was somewhat taken aback, I admit, but he really is much taken with it. Who'd have thunk it?

  5. Hi Alf--good to see you back in print!

    I toyed with one of the gentlemen in the LV booth for a couple minutes, playing at sawing difficulty, asking which hand to use, etc.--until he read my name tag. All in good fun, of course.

    As I wrote on one of the forums, I think it is fantastic LV has brought this saw out for the price they have. I have my own bias concerning a couple details, but they are not anything that would prevent me from recommending this saw to someone, especially new to using a hand saw.

    Kudos to LV I say.

    Take care, Mike

  6. Alf, the heck with the saw - the joy is you really ARE back! As for the saw, nobody who has tried it seems to dislike it... just the opposite in fact. And now you too. Perhaps the sensitive can use their savings to pick up some really dark sunglasses! Seriously, it's great your back!

  7. Wow thanks for the heads up. I think I can finally afford a high-end dovetail saw. Is Veritas moving into traditional saws now?

  8. For me, this saw causes quite a quandary. I love the look and feel of old tools and try to use them as often as I can. Old saws are especially close to my heart and as a result, I have purchased five different ones over the past five months. My problem is, I really do like the look of this new Lee Valley saw. They got the proportions, shape and even the colour right. If the performance lives up to what is expected from a Veritas tool, I have no idea what I'm going to do. Peace, Mitchell

  9. Alf - your father's reaction might be quite telling. Perhaps the LV saw will tap a new market. The Nintendo Wii did the same for video game consoles. The traditional hardcore gamers hate the Wii. Yet millions of people who've never had a game console are buying them. Time will tell.

  10. Chuck, that's an interesting thought, isn't it?

    As for further saws, I believe a carcass saw, and possibly further back saws - hand saws, nope.

  11. I have posted a similar point before, on Chris Schwartz' review of the saw, but it seems to have vanished so I'll try again.

    It's surprising to me that no-one seems to consider the detailed reasons why LV have chosen to construct this saw in a novel way. The spine material has quite different properties from any metal back, and this might be key to how well it works. Vibration damping, for one, should be a big potential advantage of a filled composite, and this is something that should make a saw better to use. Surely some of the reviewers could get just a little deeper than 'it looks different, but it still cuts OK'. Tell us something of how it sounds, what happens on thin stock, is there anything surprising...

    Helping folks to appreciate the objective technical advantages of different tool designs is the best way to persuade them that sometimes, a new approach really does have something to offer that tradition doesn't! I'm a technologist, this type of assessment is 'obvious' to me (though the answers are often not at all obvious!), but many people will come from a different angle and might enjoy reading about the what and how of a tool from a perspective they don't already have. Looks is about the only area where everyone can form their own opinion without help!

    For my part, I think LV have raised some interesting questions with this design. Maybe it will lead to innovations that will later become mainstream, like BU planes have done. (I know they didn't originate BU, but they did resurrect it). The premium planes show that they can do design, too, as well or better than anyone. Good time to be a tool-fancier!


  12. Miles, it's a perfectly valid point. However, primarily I just don't do technical reviews. All I'm trying to achieve is the sort of initial overview that the average buyer might get at a show. Secondly, in this case the review was written at the rush anyway. I think other reviewers may have had the same time constraints. Perhaps the more technically-minded will follow up their initial impressions with deeper considerations.


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