Japanese Ryoba Saw

John Adams
Sunday, 14th June 2015

John Adams explains how the extraordinary Japanese Ryoba Saw has helped in many a DIY situation!

Having a Japanese Professional Ryoba Saw in my armoury of woodworking tools has proved very useful on a number of occasions.

Now, the thing about these saws is they are totally unlike anything else you are likely to have in your tool-box. They consist of a thin double sided blade fitted onto a long straight handle. The blade is set with fine, very sharp teeth which are set as cross cut on one side and rip on the other. The blade is slightly thinner at the centre which helps to prevent jamming.

Unlike Western saws these cut on the pull stroke rather than the push. OK, but what do you do with it? Well, the ‘seemingly impossible’ a lot of the time is probably the right answer.

While I know they are often used in furniture making in prefer­ence to tenon saws and have a strong following among timber framers for cutting both roundwood and square timber joints, my uses have at times been somewhat more unconventional.


It started with my son needing to get an oak chest of drawers up two flights of twisting stairs, which it just wouldn’t do. My answer: chop the brand new £400 piece of furniture in half with my Ryoba Saw. Not only did this work but the resulting cut was so perfect that when the two pieces were put back on top of each other you couldn’t see the join (for the full illustrated story see: www.permaculture.co.uk/reviews/its-kind-magic-japanese-saw-does-seemingly-impossible).

More recently I have been giving my studio a makeover and have found that the Ryoba Saw is the only saw you need for cutting shelves and detailing work. The impressive bit came when I ripped an angled cover board, only to find it wasn’t going to fit due to a bulge in the ceiling. Normally you would have to try and chisel and plane out the shape but my solution was to use the saw.

As far as I am aware no other hand­saw will start in the middle of a run and skim off an initial depth of less than a millimetre, continue to 5mm (0.2in) and then back to nothing all in one perfect cut. Quite amazing.

If you haven’t tried one of these wonderful saws you really should, they really are a cut above the rest.

You can buy the Ryoba Saw, (available in two sizes) on our sister site HERE