Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rob Cosman Dovetail Saws

A New Hand Saw from the Dovetail Master Himself

Rob Cosman is a well known Canadian 'hand tool coach' offering DVD's and books on wood working for the past 10 years or more. When it comes to sawing dovetails he's absolutely incredible. I've watched pretty much all of his videos and can honestly say they've helped me a great deal along my own hand sawing journey. I would strongly recommend them to any worker at any stage. I'm very happy to hear Rob is offering a dovetail saw on his website. It seems to have some interesting features and I'll be curious to hear what people have to say about it. For starters, it has a heavy brass back that Rob says is almost twice the weight of a standard dovetail saw and is much better suited to "vibration free sawing". Second it comes with a 22ppi for the first 2" of blade and then a more standard 15 ppi. This fine tooth will make starting cuts much easier for beginners. Another plus, the saw plate at 10" is an inch longer than most dovetails saws on the market. Well, without trying one before purchasing one, (which you already know from my last blog I don't really enjoy doing all that much), I can only go by what I see and what I read. Again, I'll be hoping to hear from anyone that gets a chance to use it.
Lastly, on this point of 'Trying a tool before Buying a tool...' The description of the saws and the pictures on the website are all I have to go off of so with that I say this: These new resin saw handles are scaring the hell out of me! I know Rob said he went with the balance and durability in this "resin” composite handle, but from the picture on the website it looks like he had a few old bathroom counter tops he decided to recycle. I'm sure they feel great in hand and as Rob mentions are water-proof (for all of those times I'm cutting dovetails back home in the fresh Atlantic surf)
Maybe I'm a wood snob or am completely naive to this new technology of resin in handsaws, but for me a saw needs to have a wooden handle. Now just so everyone doesn't think I'm 'Rob bashing' or anything I'll also mention the new Veritas DT saw...they're a little bit on the creepy side too. I'm well aware that a hand tool doesn't have to look great to be great but it sure is nice when they do! Theres a truck load of hand tool manufacturers making sculpture like tools that perform as well as they look.
Robs new saws also come with a custom wooden box which I like. The idea is nice but I think it would be even nicer if the customer had the option of solely purchasing the saw without it; I'd be curious to see the price difference. Maybe I should take my own advice and see about trying one out. I'm sure he'll be at the wood show next year with some of them. I'll look forward to it.
With that, knowing Rob Cosman, and being a fan of his work for years, these things will probably eat dovetails for breakfast-but brother please...from one East Coaster to another...those handles?


  1. Early this year I took a class from Rob, at our local Woodcraft store. He had a prototype of the saw there. We were able to give it a try. It was a very nice saw. It was well balanced and cut sweet. The marital for the hand is a little unorthodox, but feels really nice in your hand. I'm not a fan of the Granite handle, but the Bone looks very nice. Rob had a black one the store, which looked incredible! I wish he offered the black one. I've been waiting for him to release the saw. I ordered Bone :).


  2. I was with Mike at that class and trying the saw side to side with my LN was quite a contrast. The heft that Rob achieves with the brass back and the handle seem to give this saw some serious stability. Having the fine teeth up front made for effortless starting. It felt great in the hand. I too am not too fond of the handle material, so that is the trade off on Rob's saw.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys...I'm not surprised to hear that it performs so well. I was curious to know about the extra weight and both comments seem like it's a benefit. I would like to see one in black/ebony or perhaps even a dark walnut.?
    Thanks again for the comments.

  4. I don't see why Rob would offer a non-wood handle, except for profit reasons. Aesthetically it is way off-base. Aren't we woodworkers? I recognise that plywood drawers work fine, for example, but that's not what draws me to the romance of fine craftsmanship in wood, and spending the many hours gaining mastery of dovetails and fitting. Having a wooden handle is very much a part of that tool-using experience.
    I really am surprised that he made that marketing choice. Ill- advised, in my opinion.

  5. why use a non wood handle;
    -does not move, nice and stable!
    -much heavier than wood, balanced!
    -no finish to wear off
    -not affected by wet sweaty hands
    -stronger than wood,grain direction
    I wrote a much longer response but it was rejected for being too long and now it is somewhere in cyber space.
    I use to think the only hockey stick was a wood stick, bought a composite a few years ago and you will never pry that from my hands. Does the job so much better. I love wood too, but my hammer head is steel, as are my chisels and my square. yes some have wood parts and some dont. i didnt make this saw to be set on a mantle or tool case to be admired, I made it to level the playing field for the new guy. The features are what counts, use your pretty wood in what ever you are making. Want a saw with tons of teaching experience behind it, buy mine. Want a pretty handle on a good saw, there are plenty out there but you may have to get on a waiting list that could be years long. To each his own, thanks for the exposure Tom. cheers
    rob cosman

  6. Thanks so much for the response Rob,

    Your points are valid ones and I'll hopefully get to take one for a test drive some day.