For Professional Performance
I know from all the market research work I have done that the saws business is very keenly contested in the market place. For many of the tradespeople I have interviewed, there seems to be an inexhaustible seeking for the optimum cut, ultra sharpness and long cutting life, and of course the sharp pricing of their ultimate saw. It is an accurate perception amongst the saw making companies that if they could get the balance of all these factors right, there is good money to be made.
I also know that tradespeople swap stories about their saws, and if a good one should appear on the market, then others will go and try it out as soon as their latest saw is blunt enough to warrant replacement.
Still others swear by a chosen brand, and having found something that suits them, they will stick by it religiously. This may be because the blade is slightly thicker and more rigid, helping the saw to be more accurate, or the handle is comfortable and able to be used all day without strain. Or perhaps the saw has a feature that suits a particular kind of use like laminate flooring.
My own experience is that there are many good saws on the market, and we consumers are really quite spoilt for choice. With a bit of experience and experiment, it should be possible to choose a saw that will fit in very well with what you are doing. It may be that the brand that cuts laminate flooring well, is not the same one to be used on decking timbers or first fix joinery. DIYers should probably avoid the coarse-toothed monsters used by site chippies because they will not get fine enough results without some experience.
So when, with some unDraper-like fanfare, the Draper SUPERCUT range of saws was introduced, I was of course interested to try them out. I was sent three samples from the range to try; the 550mm 11tpi second fix saw, the 375mm 7tpi toolbox saw and the250mm 11tpi tenon saw.
The background of these saws is typically Draper – in other words thoroughly researched. They have Japanese steel blades that have been coated in a hard transparent lacquer to ensure that they slip easily through damp and resiny woods when cutting.
The blades are quite rigid, being over 1.2 mm thick, and this certainly helps to avoid the “whip” effect noticed on thinner blades. Some users say that extra thickness creates extra friction, but this seems to me to be minimal if you indeed notice it.
In the modern fashion, the hardpoint teeth are triple ground so that the saw will cut on the forward and reverse strokes. Some users (usually inexperienced ones) find this tooth formation can be difficult to start in the cut, but experienced users value the extra speed of cutting gained. There is no set on the teeth because the gullet of the teeth ensure optimum sawdust extraction.
I really liked the Draper Expert Blue handle design, which is unique and designed specifically for Draper .
Large enough to be used with a glove on in cold weather, but also with a dimpled and hatched rubberised grip that does the job well. It is comfortable for continued use as well as being set at the correct angle to the blade for optimum cutting.
Finally, the saws all have a 90 degree and 45 degree angle set in the handle to speed up marking out.
Modern saws are expected to cope with everything from hardwood, uPVC, MDF, OSB and laminate flooring and back to softwood, so I did just that when trying them out in my workshop.
I found that I was impressed by the performance of all these saws. I started in some hard African hardwood, but all three samples made short work of cutting it. I found that I was able to follow a line easily, even with compound angled cuts, and the saws cut with a satisfying slight resistance and classic sawing noise that was just right. Sawdust extraction was very swift via the gullets in the teeth.
I expected some difficulty in starting the cuts – there often is with a brand new sharp saw, but the rigid blade and lacquer coating seemed to make this job easy and accurate. It was more difficult to get a completely splinter free cut with the 7tpi saw, but once it got going speed in the cut showed me that first fix chippies would really get on well with it.
With some confidence I tried plywood, OSB and MDF and then back to some softwood. None of them seemed to create any difficulty for the Draper saws. They cut just as easily in uPVC as in softwood etc.
I am sure there are other brands of saws on the market that would do similar things – we would expect competition to be keen – but the Draper products have a good “feel” of quality and competence. A good all-round, good quality, comfortable to use and sharp saw that is keenly priced from a reliable brand too.
For the retailer, there are the usual incentives to stock Draper products, namely wide availability, reliable service and back-up and occasional special offers to keep the buyers interested. Draper offer some very attractive counter top displays for the range.
The range of the new SUPERCUT saws is eight strong, so meeting buyers’ needs is easy. The most commonly used are most likely the two 550mm (22inch) saws in 7 and 11 tpi configuration and the two 500mm (20 inch) saws with the same tooth counts as above.
The toolbox saw at 375mm (15 inch) comes only in a 7tpi fastcut form and the flooring saw has a fine tooth for smooth cutting of floorboards.
In many ways the most surprising saws were the tenon saws. I have been using fine dovetail saws in oak recently making a blanket chest. The performance of the fine teeth in hardwood plus the rigid blade made me think I should think twice about spending £50 on another fine-toothed cabinet maker’s saw when the time comes…..!