See What I Saw

Glen-Drake Toolworks' Dovetail Saw

There are at least two kinds of tool-makers: those, like me, that attempt to improve on that which has been done in the past by using new materials and techniques, and those who rethink the tool from its basic function, starting with a blank chalkboard, re-imagining what it should be based on what outcome is desired when using the tool. My friend, Kevin Glen Drake, is the latter.

As a tool-maker, Kevin gained much-deserved recognition when he introduced the Tite-Mark marking gauge, acclaimed by some as the woodworking tool of the century, and one that Chris Schwarz won’t go anywhere without. Then he redesigned the hammer. I know, how could something so basic be redesigned? Well, try this: take your everyday hammer – such as a simple claw hammer – with the traditional oval handle and hold it in a normal grip. Now close your eyes and adjust your arm such that it is comfortable. I’ll bet when you open your eyes the hammer head is off-axis – not plumb. What this demonstrates is that while using that hammer your arm is constantly twisted to align the head to hit the target. Glen-Drake’s Tite-Hammers have off-axis handles (right-handed and left-handed models are available) so the head aligns properly without twisting your arm.

Smooth strips fore and aft combine with progressive teeth for easy sawing

After making dovetailing easier and more precise with his Kerf-Starter and Scraper File-Burnisher, Kevin set his sights on the saw. He developed his “Wild West” Dovetail saw with a two-handed grip that allows you to actually see the line you’re sawing. It’s an innovative design but may take a bit of getting used to before its advantages are realized. In my opinion the real innovation with this saw is the tooth configuration. Not only are the teeth progressive – small at the front and back for easy starting and stopping of each stroke, larger for aggressive cutting mid-stroke – but there are no teeth at all on the first and last 2-1/4” of the blade. You can align the smooth starter strip where you want the cut to start and with a gently push smoothly engage the first, small teeth. As the stroke continues, the more aggressive teeth do their work and the finer teeth at the back allow you to slow down under control to the toothless rear section to smoothly reverse and draw the saw back to start the next stroke, again on the front toothless strip. Brilliant!

Ergonomic turned handle offers comfort and control

For a one-hand saw a superior tooth pattern wasn’t innovative enough to simply add it to a traditional saw handle design. Kevin re-imagined the saw handle as well. His is a turned, ergonomically contoured handle mounted at an angle reminiscent of a Japanese-style pull-saw. But this one you push. The round handle allows you to adjust the angle of the cut without changing the angle of your arm and wrist. Coupled with his unique tooth pattern this is a saw anyone can use easily, comfortably and very efficiently whether a beginner or master sawyer. It’s a beautiful, well made saw and a real bargain at $129.

I don’t see these at Kevin’s website (glen-drake.com) but you can call him at 800-961-1569. Tell him Ron sent you.

About Ron Hock

Owner of HOCK TOOLS (.com) and author of "The Perfect Edge, the Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers"
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3 Responses to See What I Saw

  1. Looks very nice. I’m always happy to see innovation and design. I would be keen to see it in the flesh and test it out. However, I’ll stick to my traditional backsaw for simplicity and familiarity.

  2. John says:

    I bought this after seeing Kevin demo it at the LN event in Sacramento (met you too Ron!). I ordered it on the spot. It is the EASIEST cutting saw I have ever used. I was able to hold a board with my left hand (no, not in a vise), and cut a rip into some birch I had laying around. I don’t think I could do that with any other back saw. Very happy with it. I wish he had it listed on his website, and had reviews, because if you ever use it, you WILL tell people about it! Thanks for featuring it Ron.

  3. Don S says:

    I bought one at the San Diego LN event along with the Titemark. I very much appreciate the innovative approach of Kevin Glen-Drake. I’ve owned an Independence Dovetail Saw (and love it) for many years. But this new saw cuts so smoothly and provides so much user control that it is hard not to sing it’s praises. I did not buy the kerf starter and, so far, feel no need to because the saw is so easy to align in the cut from my old marking knife. It seems to be much easier (and faster) to get a straight cut. The biggest difference, I think, is the unique blade design allowing the blade to find the cut before the teeth engage. This feature eliminates the stutter step often encountered when starting the cut with more conventional blades.
    I will definitely be watching Mr. Glen-Drake closely from now on.

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