Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Classic Hand Saw Like This Is Hard to Find

There was a time when most every household in America owned a hand saw.  This hand saw was sometimes used for making furniture and cabinets, but the majority of the time it was used to make repairs around the house or build things necessary for everyday living.  Electric circular saws were too expensive for the average person to afford, so the need for a good crosscut was paramount.  It always had a comfortable wooden handle, was usually 26" in length, had a minimum setting of 10-12 tpi (teeth per inch), was made in the US, and it bore a medallion of the saw manufacturer on the handle.

I recently was given the opportunity to try out a saw that fit this same criteria, the Great Neck N2610.

My Search for a Modern Saw

Walk down the hand tool aisle of your big box stores today and you will find quite a few differences between the tools of today the classics of yesterday.  Most crosscut saws today feature carbide teeth, set at 6-8 tpi, with plastic handles. They butcher end grain and are less comfortable than the saw our parents and grandparents used.  I also found most hand saws today are 20" in length.  These tools are made to use, abuse, wear down, and throw away.

The other hand saw option you have is to purchase a very expensive high end saw at a woodworking specialty store.  I have no quarrel with these saws, they are very nice and high quality.  Attached to the high quality is also a high price tag.  It is relatively impossible to find a saw in this category for less than $100.  My purpose was to find a solid hand saw the average American could afford on a budget.

The Great Neck N2610

I emailed the Great Neck Tool company after reading a few reviews of this product.  Within no time, they sent me a N2610 in exchange for an honest review of their product.  I was a big fan of the this saw from the moment I held it.  I became a very big fan after cutting my first piece of lumber.  Here is how this saw stood out from the pack:

Comfortable Handle

The handle was large and made of wood.  My hand slid in and it fit well, offering the opportunity to saw comfortably for a long period of time.  I also found the wood easier to grip than many of the plastic handles out there today.  Anyone who has ever done a lot of hand sawing will tell you this is probably one of the most important features of a hand saw.

The Cut

When you look at tpi, you have to balance speed of cutting with the quality of the cut.  The lower your teeth per inch, the faster the cut and the rougher the finished product.  Although it may not seem so, there is a big difference between 8 tpi and 10 tpi.   In my opinion, the best cut for a beginning woodworker comes from a 10-12 tpi saw.  The Great Neck N2610 was no exception, it cut effectively without shredding the edges of the end grain.  A quick clean up with a file and some light sanding will leave the edge of your work ready to accept stain.

Full Sized

Apparently, I missed the boat somewhere.  When did a 20 inch saw become the standard?  To my knowledge, Disston Tools, America's leading hand saw maker for over a century, did not manufacture a 20" standard cross cut saw.  If you use the entire length of the saw, a 26" hand saw cuts much faster than a 20" model.  The full 26" length of this saw was definitely a feature I liked.

A Few More Details

After speaking with a company representative, I learned Great Neck has been producing this exact same saw for about 30 to 40 years without any changes in design.  Although improvements have been made to the process, the product itself has remained untouched.

Another thing which hasn't changed is where these saws are manufactured.  The N2610 is a proud product to wear the label "Made in the USA."  Around since 1919, Great Neck Tools started out in the tool industry making saws in this country, and it still makes them here today.

Care for Your Handsaw

The blade of this handsaw is a chrome nickel steel blade with a water based lacquer, pretty much an industry standard for your general hand saw.  After you are done sawing for the day, Great Neck suggests a light coat of oil be applied to prevent any rust from forming on the blade.  I gave mine a quick shot of AmsOil on a rag and a light wiping and the saw was ready for storage until the next project.


The saw was a real pleasure to cut with and left a nice edge for any saw under $30.  This saw cut just as well as a Disston I own, perhaps even a little better.  I feel with its features at the price point given, you would be hard pressed to find a better saw.  In fact, citing reasons previously stated, I believe this saw is in a category all its own.

You can read more about Great Neck Tools, the multiple brands they own, and the wide array of tools they produce at the website  

Monday, February 11, 2013

DIY Non-Marring Hammer with an Old School Twist

When disassembling furniture for repair, it is important to keep the parts in pristine condition so when reassembled you can make the piece look brand new.  Sometimes softer woods have a habit of very easily taking dents or nicks.

I ran across a situation the other day where I was disassembling a piece of knotty pine furniture and needed a non-marring hammer to break apart glued joints.  I started by using a rubber mallet, but had to stop when I found it left some dents in the wood.  Wanting to preserve the pieces in their original condition, I knew another solution was out there.

I recalled a while back reading up on furniture restoration, a hammer wrapper with rags could be a substitute for a non-marring hammer.  This sounded like a good time to put it to the test.

To make my hammer, I used:

- 3 pound sledge hammer (or other hammer with flat ends)
- 8 shop rags
- 1 large zip tie

Step 1

Lay all 8 rags flat and place the hammer in the middle.

Step 2

Wrap your rags as evenly as you can around the head of the hammer.

Step 3

Put a zip tie around the rags as close tot he head of the hammer as you can.  To tighten it very tight, use a pair of pliers to pinch near the excess zip tie material and rock it back and forth.  After it is snug, cut off the end of the zip tie.

To my surprise, this hammer left no dents or marks in the wood even though I swung it very hard.  Making it took less than five minutes, but the best part is it was made for free with things most of us already have lying around our garage.