In this guide we’ll look at the best tenon saws.
We’ve compared length, weight, teeth per inch and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Tenon Saw?
More Detailed Tenon Saw Reviews
Spear & Jackson 5410Y Professional 10 inch Tenon Saw Review
You can’t go far wrong with one of the most established names in British tools. This Spear & Jackson Professional grade 10″ Tenon Saw was made in the image of a traditional brass back saw, but with precision ground teeth that can last a lifetime.
The handle is made of dark stained wood and is large enough to accommodate the biggest hands, and the brass screws keep the blade on as securely as possible.
The best feature of this Spear and Jackson saw is that it’s not a hardpoint blade. You can alter the teeth to suit your sawing style, and keep it sharp for a lifetime of use. We think it’s the best small tenon saw on this list by far.
Irwin 10503534 Jack Hardpoint 12 inch Tenon Saw Review
Irwin Jack is another trusted name in the saw world, and this Ultrafine 12″ hardpoint tenon saw is light, accurate and easy to handle. The soft grip handle feels solid for the weight, and helps keep your sawing straight.
For the money, Irwin 10503534 is the best small tenon saw with a hardpoint blade. Easy to fit in a mitre box, this backsaw is ideal for cutting accurately for not a lot of money.
Even without a mitre box, you can quickly reference 90° and 45° angles with the handle, by holding it against the workpiece and marking a line. Our favourite feature of this Irwin Jack saw is the clever push and pull stroke cutting action, which should stay sharp for a long time.
Draper Expert Supercut 49280 12″ Hardpoint Tenon Saw Review
This excellent 12″ Draper tenon saw from their popular Supercut range is another hardpoint saw that cuts on the push and pull stroke, allowing for incredibly fast and accurate work. The triple-ground teeth are set at the right angle for speed and cutting ability.
They use a Japanese super-hard high carbon blade coated in a weatherproof hard lacquer to ensure that the tenon saw stays sharp and rust free no matter where you decide to use it. It’s the best fine tenon saw for the UK market that Draper make currently, and we really like it.
Bahco EX-14-TEN-C 350mm Tenon Handsaw Review
Bahco are a premium tool brand from Sweden, and this excellent 14″ tenon blade forms part of their Superior Range, where multiple blades for different jobs all fit the same Ergo handle. This means you can carry five saws with you in a small space.
When it comes to cutting accurately, the low-friction blade of the Bahco EX-14-TEN-C slides with ease and the patented “XT toothing” cuts on both the pull and push stroke, making short work of fine, medium and even thick materials.
We really liked the interchangeable handle system, as it meant we can save room in our tool kits while keeping the best fine tooth tenon saw on us at all times.
Stanley FatMax 217202 14-inch Tenon and Back Saw Review
The FATMAX range of tools are well-known for their innovative features and tough-built exterior. The Stanley FatMax 217202 14-inch Back Saw keeps up the reputation by offering a super sturdy bi-material handle that feels good in the hand and reduces sawing fatigue.
The hardpoint blade and triple-ground teeth on the back saw are as sharp as they come and should last a long time, even with heavy use. The high number of teeth per inch was impressive for a blade this long.
We really liked the inbuilt finger rest, it helped with creating an accurate sawing position from the start. The longer blade length on the Stanley back saw helps with faster sawing and made it easier to use in a mitre box, especially at 45°.
Tenon Saw Buyer’s Guide
Tenon saws are vital tools in any carpenter’s tool box. Specifically designed for fine cutting work, usually across the grain of wood, they derive their name from the process used to construct the mortise and tenon joint itself. For the serious professional tenon saws are used in conjunction with dovetail saws and gents saws to help perfect the construction of this joint.
Traditionally the best tenon saws were made from steel with a brass back and wooden handle. Tenon saws (along with dovetail saws and gents saws) are also called “back saws” for this reason. The brass back of the saw adds rigidity and strength to the blade, keeping it from bending when sawing hard woods. Modern types of tenon saw use state-of-the-art pulse hardening techniques to make a hardpoint blade that is razor sharp out of the box, but crucially cannot be re-sharpened.
Traditional wooden handles can be modified and filed to suit different grips, but they don’t offer the versatility of modern injected plastics and rubbers that reduce vibration and increase grip.
Referring to “teeth per inch” even though most measurements are now in metric, this is the number of individual cutting sections on the bottom of the blade itself. The higher the TPI, the smaller the teeth, so they cut less material per stroke but with higher accuracy.
All back saws, including tenon saws, are well suited to cutting wood in a mitre box, a type of guide that helps the user cut accurate angles in different materials. Depending on the blade, a tenon saw can cut hard and soft wood, plastics and even soft metals.
How do you use a tenon saw?
Always measure twice and cut once. Mark you cut as accurately as possible, and then secure your workpiece in a vice or mitre box.
Holding your tenon saw firmly in your dominant hand, with your index finger extended for support along the back of the saw, place the blade on the mark and draw the saw lightly across the mark, making sure your stroke is straight.
Start with short strokes, then as the saw bites in, extend your strokes and work up a smooth rhythm until you are close to the mark. Slow the saw down and make sure you are sawing on a flat plane for an even cut.
How do you sharpen a tenon saw?
If your tenon saw is a hardpoint, you cannot re-sharpen it, the carbon steel blade is hard but brittle. The best tenon saw is made of tool steel and can be worked on.
Clamp the saw blade firmly in a vice and using a sharpening file, lightly stroke each cutting surface at the appropriate angle. A sharpening guide is essential unless you are experienced.
After looking at all five of the best tenon saws for the UK market, we have to say that the traditional style Spear & Jackson Professional tenon saw was head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to rigidity, long life and comfort when in use.