Noko – Saw


It would not be an overstatement to say that a saw is the tool used the most out of all the carpentry tools. We use saws to cut timbers, of course, but there are two kinds of edge depending on which way of the timber you wish to cut. When you want to cut along the fibre of the timber, the Tatebiki (vertical) is the one to use, on the other hand, when cut against the fibre, the Yokobiki (horizontal) is the one to use. The edges are made differently depending on its use, have a close look when you have a chance.

Left – Yokobiki, Right – Tatebiki

Each saw can also be called differently depending on how many edges it has. If it has the edge on both sides of the saw, it is called Ryoba-noko (both sided saw), one side, Kataba-noko (single sided saw).

Four saws on the left are the Kataba-noko

Sizes are various as well. To begin with, I’d like to introduce you to the “traditional” Japanese units of measurement. I say “traditional” because my sister didn’t understand when I mentioned this although I always thought this is very common. Anyway, please have a look at the chart below.

Reference : Wikipedia 

We, Japanese carpenters, call saws by its length. X Sun (pronounced soon) or Shaku X Sun (a number goes to X) The one we use the most often is probably Kyu-Sun (9 Sun, about 27cm) The smaller the number, the finer and the thinner the edge. For smaller timbers, we would use Nana-Sun (7 Sun, about 21cm) or Ha-Sun (8 Sun, about 24cm) they give it a smooth cut end.

For the much larger timber or a log, we use a Shaku (1 Shaku, about 30cm), Shaku I-Sun (1 Shaku and 1 Sun, about 33cm) or Shaku Ni-Sun (1 Shaku and 2 Sun, about 36cm) As you can guess, the edge gets bigger, thicker and more rough. So does the cut end.

Ryoba-noko: from left; 8 Sun, 9 Sun, Shaku, Shaku 1 Sun, Shaku 2 Sun

Most of the carpenters use the Honto *1 Ryoba-noko but the Kaeba-shiki *2 is becoming more and more popular as it is in fact very useful. We also use them as well. It is sharp and cheap. Recently a new type has been in a shop that can actually cut vertically, horizontally and diagonally! The new technology is amazing.

*1 Honto: The traditional saw that we sharpen when it becomes worn out. Accordingly, the saw becomes smaller as we use it.

*2 Kaeba-shiki: The saws that gets thrown away when it becomes worn out and not sharp enough.

Honto, Shaku 2 Sun, Tatebiki (left), Yokobiki (right)

This time, I introduced very basic of saws but there are many more of them for various uses. I intend to introduce them all in the future, keep posted 🙂


そもそも縦挽きと横挽き、なぜ2種類あるのでしょうか?それは木材の切る方向によって使い分けるからです。木の繊維方向に切断したい時は、縦挽き (丸太をさけるチーズだとすると、さきたいときには縦)木の繊維を横切るように切断する時は、横挽き(チーズの長さをカットしたいとき)を使用します。刃の作りも縦挽きと横挽きと作りが違うので機会があれば見てみてください。




本刃鋸 尺二寸目 左:縦挽き、右:横挽き