How to Maintain a Japanese Hand Saw (A Quick & Easy Guide)

The key to keeping any tool in excellent operating condition is having it serviced on a regular basis. If you don’t, you’ll start to notice some bad effects.
A Japanese handsaw will be no exception.

To maintain a Japanese hand saw, and to keep it in good working order, it requires some basic and important handling, such as storing it properly, keeping it dry, lubricating it regularly, and removing rust as soon as possible.

In this post, I’ll go through the fundamental maintenance procedures you’ll need to maintain a Japanese hand saw and keep it in good working order. I’ll also go over when you should sharpen and when you shouldn’t, as well as how to do so.

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What is a Japanese Hand Saw?

How to maintain a Japanese hand saw (a quick & easy guide)

A Japanese hand saw (japan pull saw), like the ones from Suizan, is a wood-cutting tool invented and manufactured in Japan. It is sometimes referred to as a nokogiri.

Japanese hand saws can cut straight lines, like most western hand saws, but on top of that, they are intended to cut curves as well.

The Japanese hand saw has smaller teeth than a regular hand saw and is designed to cut on the pull stroke. The teeth are constructed of high-carbon steel as well and are extremely strong and sharp.

If you want to learn more about Japanese hand saws and the differences between them and western hand saws, you should read my article, — Should I Buy Western or Japanese Hand Saws?
In that post, you’ll learn about the best saw to use for your projects. The answer to that may be surprising and helpful, so be sure you don’t miss that article.

Just like any other hand saw, it is good to maintain a Japanese hand saw regularly. This will keep your hand saw as good as new.
Below You will find out why it is important to maintain a Japanese hand saw and a few tips on how to maintain a Japanese hand saw.

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Why is it important to maintain a Japanese hand saw?

The Japanese handsaw is one of the most crucial hand tools in my workplace.
I’m realizing more and more that with these handsaws, I can make my work clean and exact with a really fine saw cut.

I’ve been using these handsaws for a few years now and owing to proper care, they’re still as good as new.

So why is it important to maintain a Japanese hand saw?

In a nutshell, it’s about retaining that familiar precise cut, accuracy, and sharpness.
A decent Japanese handsaw is simple to operate, ergonomic, and produces excellent results. By giving the Japanese handsaw the attention it deserves, you can count on the exceptional results you can get with this style of saw time and time again.

So let’s take a look at how to maintain a Japanese hand saw so that it stays as good as new.

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How to maintain a Japanese hand saw?

There are a few things you can do to keep your Japanese hand saw in good condition. I’ve included the steps I take to keep my Japanese saw in good working order below, which can inspire you on how to maintain a Japanese hand saw if you have one yourself.
You may always email me if you have an excellent tip that should be included in this list.

Store your Japanese hand saw properly.

How to maintain a Japanese hand saw (a quick & easy guide)

One of the first and most important steps in learning how to maintain a Japanese hand saw is to properly store them. This is a step I take to preserve all the instruments in my workshop in good shape. That is what I do with the Japanese hand saw as well.

Nothing is more damaging to your tools than being flung around in an area where they have a greater potential of falling, becoming blunt, being stepped on, or going under anything and causing damage.

You may easily come up with several storage options, but sometimes the simplest approach is the best. In my instance, the Japanese handsaw is hung on the wall, simply on a hook in a location where it will not come into touch with other materials or instruments.

Never keep this saw in a drawer with other equipment.
When you open or close the drawer, the material within shifts somewhat, which might cause friction between the tools. The Japanese hand saw’s tiny sharp teeth can be damaged, blunted, or even broken off.
Place the Japanese handsaw in a drawer where it is well-protected all around, or wrap the saw in a towel.

The other day, I received a tip from Boris L., a loyal visitor to my website. He told me he kept his pulling saw on his wall, using a strong magnet to hold the saw by the blade. That way, he can quickly pull the saw off the wall and put it back in place. A handy tip! Thanks for that, Boris!

Keep it dry.

Keeping the Japanese saw dry is one of two things you can do to keep the saw blade from rusting.

Keep your handsaw in a dry place with as little humidity as possible. Small rust spots on the saw blade might be caused by moisture in the air.

These rust patches should be seen as little clumps. As a result, your saw blade will not only get thicker but also rougher in that location.

As a result, the Japanese saw will cut through the wood much more slowly, creating a rougher cut and requiring more effort to cut through the wood.

Lubricate the saw blade.

The next thing to do to keep the rust away and maintain a Japanese hand saw is to lubricate it.

You can easily lubricate the saw blade with an oil such as WD40. This is best done after each usage of the Japanese saw or at the end of the workday.

This is accomplished by spraying the oil with an aerosol and applying it in a thin coating to the saw blade, or by placing the oil on a cloth and applying it in a thin layer to the saw blade.

How to maintain a Japanese hand saw (a quick & easy guide)

The oil will form a layer on the metal that is impervious to the moisture in the air.

Not only WD40, but any type of grease or oil that may build an impermeable coating can protect the metal against corrosion.

For example, I heard a story of an old car that was discovered in pristine shape after more than 30 years in a shed. There was no rust on the entire car, since the entire body had been rubbed with a coating of grease.

Of course, a Japanese saw is not an old car, and you will not store it for 30 years, so a thin layer of oil will suffice.

To do this, ensure that there is enough oil on the saw blade and that the entire area has been coated. Applying too much oil, on the other hand, makes no sense and is a waste of oil.

You may test this by suspending the saw. If the oil dripping, you need to remove a part of it.

The next time you use the saw, remove the oil with a dry towel before you begin sawing.

How to remove rust from a saw blade?

A well-maintained blade will never rust if the previous steps are followed.

If this is the case, a basic razor blade might come in handy.

Place the blade on a flat surface to remove the rust. Make a 45-degree angle with the razor blade. Move it up and down, scraping the saw blade softly.
When moving up and down, make sure to go along the whole length of the blade.

After you’ve eliminated most of the rust, use a piece of medium steel wool to clean stubborn places. As an alternative to steel wool, you may also use fine sandpaper starting at p500. However, use caution so that you do not damage the saw blade.

After you have removed the last parts of the rust, you can wipe it with a soft dry cloth and oil it as described above.

How to maintain a Japanese hand saw (a quick & easy guide)

can you sharpen a japanese saw?

The next step in how to maintain a Japanese saw is to check the sharpness of the teeth regularly. But what if they are blunt, can you sharpen a Japanese saw?

Many people will tell you to sharpen a saw blade and how to do it if you perform a search on how to maintain a Japanese hand saw on the internet.
However, be careful with this!

The majority of Japanese saws feature a saw blade or saw teeth made of hardened metal. In that case, avoid sharpening the japanese saw blade!
If you file the hardened metal anyhow, you will lose the hardened layer and the saw-tooth will turn into a soft metal that will quickly become dull again.

How to know if your hand saw blade is hardened?

It is simpler than you think to determine whether your saw blade has been hardened or not.
Simply glancing at the tooth line will be enough. If the teeth are blue or black in color, the saw blade has most likely been hardened.

So check whether you have a hardened hand saw blade. If this is the case, never sharpen hardened steel! Instead, you must replace the saw blade.
Most Japanese saw blades are easily detachable from the handle, and manufacturers provide replacement saw blades.

A good example of this is the suizan japanese pull saw hand saw ryoba and the corresponding replacement blade that you can find via the links on Amazon

When to replace a saw blade?

I am aware that replacing it will involve costs. However, it is still a good idea to change the blade if the saw cut is no longer sharp, the result is no longer as intended, or the sawing is becoming more difficult.

Like I said before, an important step in how to maintain a Japanese hand saw, is to check the saw blade’s teeth on a regular basis. If it is no longer pointed, it may be time to change the saw blade as well.

Even if the saw blade is folded, a tooth is out of place, or worse, missing, you must replace it right away.

The costs associated with renewing the saw blade will never justify the substandard quality finish or the increased effort required to cut.

Avoid Nails

This is actually not a tip to maintain a Japanese hand saw, but rather a tip to avoid damage and keep it in the best possible condition.

There is a very large risk that your saw blade will be damaged if it comes into contact with a nail. This might result in the tooth becoming dull or breaking off.

As a result, it is usually a good idea to verify the existing nails before sawing. This examination can be visible but bear in mind that concealed nails might be present in the wood as well.

Certainly, in later stages of the construction process, you may forget where you have fastened, whether apparent or concealed.

To identify hidden nails, I always use a metal detector. It is a small investment that will save you a significant amount of money in the long term.

In my earlier article, 7 simple ways to find free lumber & make more profit, I discussed the usage of metal detectors and which brands and types I favor. Be sure to check out that article for more information and inspiration.

How long do Japanese saw blades last?

It’s impossible to put a precise figure on this, but Japanese saws will typically endure between 50 and 100 hours of continuous use. Of course, the quality of the blade, the maintenance you do on it, and the substance in which you cut all play a role.


The right japanese pull saw maintenance can ensure that your Japanese saw lasts a lot longer than if you don’t maintain a Japanese hand saw.
I also want to mention that a well-maintained and sharp saw is a safe saw.
Taking care of a Japanese hand saw will take some effort, but in the long run, it can make a big difference.

So collect all your Japanese handsaws today and give them proper maintenance.

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I hope this information on how to maintain a Japanese hand saw was helpful, and that this blog inspires you.

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