best tenon saw uk

Best Tenon Saw UK – 2021 (Buying Guide & Reviews)

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Using the right saw for the job came to me later in life, when woodwork became a hobby rather than a way of fixing something. I remember my old woodwork teacher telling me about various saws and which one to use in a particular situation, but I just used whatever I could get my hands on when it came to adult life. 

Typically, this boiled down to my trusty hacksaw, but I became interested in tools for specific jobs as I got older. When you create the perfect mortise and tenon joint, the joy is difficult to describe – you have to feel it. 

This article will reveal the best tenon saw UK and why so many people love it.

In a Hurry? Here’s our Top Pick for the Best Tenon Saw UK in 2021:

Bahco 3180-14-Xt11-Hp Tenon Saw 14In
  • Handsaw for cutting fine & medium thick materials such as plywood, laminates & plastics
  • Unique XT-tooting and hard point teeth for long lasting sharpness
  • Thicker blade for increased stability and precision
  • Low-friction, rust-protective coating

The Tenon Saw

The tenon saw was initially developed to form mortise and tenon joints in wood. The mortise – what is known as the female part of the joint – is cut using a fine chisel and a lightweight hammer, but the tenon – the male part, for reasons that will become obvious – requires a saw that will cut accurately and neatly.

And so, the tenon saw was born – a short, stubby little saw with a strip of wood or metal along the back to stiffen the blade, allowing you to cut straight and accurately with no over-cutting.

How Would You use a Tenon Saw?

man using tenon saw to cut wood

If you wanted to cut a thick branch off a tree, you wouldn’t use a tenon saw, but for precise joinery work, there is none better.

The tenon saw is often used with a mitre block to cut precise angles used in cabinetry and furniture making. For anything larger, the back piece restricts the depth of cut, and the length of the blade limits the amount by which you can pull/push the saw in one stroke when using a mitre block.

How Does a Tenon Saw Cut?

As a rule, tenon saws are set to cross-cut as you push because when forming the tenon, you initially work across the grain – however, some tenon saws cut on both the push and pull strokes. 

The length of blades range from 250mm to 350mm, and the number of teeth per inch (TPI) is around 11 or 12 TPI  – not enough to make a significant difference between the tenon saws we reviewed.

The fewer the TPI, the faster you can cut, but tenon saws are designed for accuracy, not speed. The teeth are set straight to ensure a precise, straight cut. However, this can lead to ‘binding’ in some saws. For this reason, higher quality tenon saws come coated with a lubricant.

Typically, cutting on the pull stroke is the more delicate cut, but because tenon saws have rigid backs, cutting on the push stroke is equally good. 

What to look for in a Tenon Saw

We have highlighted four key points to help you pick the best tenon saw UK:

  1. Length of the blade – essential when using a mitre block
  2. Cutting depth – from the back-stop to the front edge
  3. Teeth per inch (TPI) – this dictates how quickly you can cut
  4. Handle – it’s important that the saw feels right in your hand

The cost is always a factor, but there are plenty of good deals to be had if you shop around.

When it comes to handles, you’ll find that the best tenon saws have pistol grips. These grips hold the blade in a solid and steady position, allowing you to control the cut.

You can read more about the different types of saws and how they perform in our recent article about the 21 Types of Saws You Should Know.

Best Tenon Saw UK – The Top 3 in 2021

There are hundreds of tenon saws out there to choose from, but here are our top three tenon saws in the UK based on the four key factors above.

1. Bahco 3180 Tenon Saw

Bahco 3180-14-Xt11-Hp Tenon Saw 14In
  • Handsaw for cutting fine & medium thick materials such as plywood, laminates & plastics
  • Unique XT-tooting and hard point teeth for long lasting sharpness
  • Thicker blade for increased stability and precision
  • Low-friction, rust-protective coating

We begin with the best-in-class tenon saw – the Bacho 3180. Yes, it’s more expensive than the other two, but you have to pay for quality. 

The Bahco 3180 is the longest, deepest and heaviest of our top three, making it the most versatile for joinery work. It’s easy to see why Bahco is the choice of professionals.

With a 350mm blade length, the Bahco 3180 tenon saw works great with larger mitre blocks. Shorter blades make it difficult to cut 45° angles because the handle hits the block after one short push, but this blade gives you an extra two inches over the others, allowing for longer cutting strokes.

The coating on the blade reduces friction and protects it from rust, while the 12 TPI allows a slower but more accurate cut. The blade is thicker than other tenon saws, making it more stable – great for young or sap-filled softwoods.

The teeth are bevel-ground for high precision and straight cutting. Furthermore, the 90mm cutting depth means you can cut thicker pieces of wood than many other tenon saws. At 560g, it’s also the heaviest tenon saw on our list.

It has a longer blade for easier cuttingExpensive
It has a low-friction, rust-protective coatingRather heavy for prolonged use
The deeper blade will cut thicker pieces 

2. Draper 49280 Supercut Tenon Saw

Draper 49280 Supercut 11TPI/12PPI Soft Grip Hardpoint Tenon Saw, 300mm
  • Size: 300mm
  • Cuts on forward and reverse stroke
  • Triple ground teeth
  • Low friction coating
  • Soft ergonomic grip

If the enhanced features of the Bahco 3180 are not necessary for the type of work you’re doing, the Draper 89280 may be the tenon saw for you.

The 11 TPI blade enables the Draper 49280 tenon saw to cut faster yet maintain precision. The teeth are set to cut on the push & pull stroke and are triple ground, meaning the teeth are ground in three ways – on both edges and the tip – instead of the double ground teeth on more traditional saws. These sharper teeth act like tiny chisels to make cutting smoother and more efficient.

The handle has a soft, ergonomic design making it easy to use, and at 300mm, the blade is long enough for most joinery projects requiring precision cuts. 

The cutting depth is 80mm, the blade thickness is 0.7mm, and weighing in at 420g, it feels good in your hand.

Cost-wise, the Draper 49280 sits somewhere in the middle of our three selected tenon saws, combining economy with quality.

Quickly cuts through wood up to 80mm thickThe smaller blade is not suitable for use with larger mitre blocks
The soft-grip handle makes it easy to use 
Triple ground teeth provide smoother cutting. 

3. Irwin Jack Hardpoint Tenon Saw

Irwin 10503534 12T/13P XP3055-300 Jack Tenon Saw, 12"
  • Triple-ground tooth technology (TGT) not only increases efficiency but also optimises cutting performance on both the push and pull strokes
  • Hardpoint tenon saw
  • Soft-grip handle for user comfort
  • The ideal choice for fine carpentry
  • Teeth: 12 tpi

If you want a dependable saw to form tenon and dovetail joints, this Irwin model won’t let you down. At less than half the cost of the Bahco 3180, you certainly get value for money.

Like the Draper model, this Irwin saw has triple-ground teeth to optimise cutting performance on both the push and pull strokes. By having more TPI than the Draper model (12 vs 11), this Irwin saw doesn’t cut as fast as the Draper but is similar to the Bahco 3180.

The 300mm blade with 80mm cutting depth places this Irwin model on par with the Draper 49280, but it’s much lighter at 330g.

The soft-grip handle makes it easy to use, but some buyers noted that the seam along the back of the handle caused discomfort, so that’s something to consider. 

Low costThe handle is uncomfortable to use over more extended periods
LightweightThe smaller blade is not suitable for use with larger mitre blocks
It cuts neat, precise joints 

Best Tenon Saw UK – Comparison Table

ModelBlade lengthCutting depthTPIHandle
Bahco 3180350mm90mm12Soft grip
Draper 49280300mm80mm11Soft grip
Irwin 10503534300mm80mm12Soft grip but poor design

Final Thoughts

The Bahco 3180 is a quality product, of that there is no doubt. It’s by far the longest tenon saw of the three, has the greatest cutting depth, and has a quality feel about it. Quite simply, it’s the professionals’ tool of choice.

However, if you don’t need to cut wood thicker than 80mm and you can get away with using a mini-mitre block for most of your projects, then you might prefer the Draper or Irwin tenon saws. 

As a parting gift, please watch the video below to see exactly how you should use a tenon saw and chisel to form the perfect mortise and tenon joint. Enjoy!