You call that a saw? Now this is a saw!

This is a maebiki. It’s one of the biggest, baddest saws I have ever seen. It’s designed for resawing logs, and is also known as a “whale back saw” due to its shape, although I am not sure if that is a direct translation of maebiki. The large size of the plate is to keep the saw straight in the cut. The straight slant along the toe of the saw is designed to allow a second person, also using a maebiki, to saw the log at the same time, and provides a place for the second saw to pass by.

In Toshio Odate’s book, Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and Use, he tells a wonderful story about being given a maebiki that was owned by a sawyer who was a great friend of Odate’s master.

In case the previous picture wasn’t obvious, the maebiki is sitting across the majority of my workbench top. Here’s another picture of the maebiki with a 1/2” chisel and a 12” combination square to give a sense of scale.

This saw has serious teeth. They are rip teeth, with a very aggressive rake, but if you look closely at the tips there appears to be a small notch cut into the face of the tooth. I really have no idea what they are for. It could be a remnant of whatever filing device was used for sharpening them.

Surprisingly, the set of this saw seems to be relatively narrow given its size.

Saws are usually described as having so many points per inch. A full size rip saw often will have 5 ppi or so. This saw has 5 points per 3 inches near the toe, but like ryobas, the saw has progressive pitch, with the teeth becoming finer as you approach the handle. Of course, this is a relative term. Where the teeth are at their finest pitch near the handle, they still measure at 3 ppi.

The thickest piece of wood that I had handy was a cutoff from one of the legs of my workbench that I’ve kept around for some reason. This originally was Douglas fir 2x6’s that I laminated together. The rightmost kerf was a test run. I cut the next kerf over trying to hit one of the glue lines. Despite the size of the saw, it was surprisingly easy to follow the line, even though this was the first time I tried out this saw.

And even though we don’t usually talk about shavings where saws are concerned, you can see the shavings that the big rip teeth are pulling out of the wood. This is a really good illustration of the concept that rip teeth are really like little chisels going through the wood.

  1. giantcypress posted this
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