Aimed at: Pros and serious DIYers who need a serious saw at a good price.
Pros: Well made with 1mm thick "wobble free" blades and fast cutting tooth configurations.
The handsaw business is competitive. Full stop. Site chippies buy them in their thousands and it is not unusual for a hard pressed first fix carpenter on piece work rates to start each new day with a new saw.
There is also a hierarchy of used saws – once it has lost its perfect edge it may get moved to MDF and OSB duties, and the final indignity for a saw might be cutting a few Aerolite blocks or insulation before it is skipped.
The result of this high usage is that the cost of saws and their performance is critical for end users. There can be some brand loyalty too, but often carpenters are forced to buy whatever brand is on offer or is stocked at the outlet where they happen to be that week.
The net result of this is that the margins on saw prices have become increasingly squeezed – in some cases to the point that they are only stocked because they are a “must have” for the customers.
The new range of Draper Venom saws have already “bitten” the market and have made a very good impression for a variety of reasons. It seems that users who have tried them have already come back for more. So, time to look at them and find out why.
The Venom range has the enormous advantage of being comprehensive from the off. There are 550mm, 500mm, toolbox and tenon saws as part of the range. Apart from the tenon saws, they all are available in double ground and triple ground tooth options so users have a fine choice to suit their preferences and needs.
I was pleased to notice that the blades are a full 1mm thick so are not “floppy” in the cut and the result is that it is a lot easier to keep to the cutting line. To reduce friction the blades are coated with a transparent lacquer that also helps to reduce corrosion.
Saw manufacturers have also learnt that users need decent grippy ergonomic handles – and the Venom saws have particularly good ones, with deep checkering for the finger grips and a good size for both big and small hands.
Also required is that the handles should be able to be used as 90 and 45 degree marking out guides to save dragging a try square up onto the scaffolding. I checked the pencil lines I marked on a piece of MDF on all the four saws I was sent for review, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the guides are accurate enough for first and second fix use. The marking edges are also long enough to ensure that the saw doesn’t simply slide around when you are trying to mark the line.
When it comes to tooth options users once again have a good choice with the Venom saws. My “prejudice” is for the double ground tooth formation. With this option, the teeth are pointed and ground on both sides of the point. I find that this tooth option is easier to start in the cut and easier to control down the cutting line. Some users might say that it is a bit slower than using a triple ground saw, but I think you get a slightly better finish to the cut.
The triple ground option looks similar to the double ground at the sides of the tooth, but look closely and you will see that the bottom has been ground off at about 45 degrees to leave a chisel-like tooth that really attacks the wood. Users who need really aggressive and quick cutting would choose this option – and they usually have the arm muscles to go with it, since they are cutting loads of timber and boards every working day. I find that the triple ground option is a bit harder to start the cut, but then I am usually cutting finer boards in hardwood and birch ply.
Draper has also been very careful to provide a sensible range of options for buyers. Firstly, there is a choice between 550mm and 500mm saw lengths in both first fix (8PPI) and second fix (12PPI) saws and in double or triple ground tooth options. The 8PPI will give very aggressive cutting rates, but won’t leave as good a finish to the cut. I like a smooth finish, but roofers and other first fixers like the cut to be quick above all else.
I use toolbox saws a lot and have several in various tool configurations. The Draper toolbox saws are 350mm long, so fit perfectly into a bag or toolbox. With double or triple ground options why not have one of each?
With all of these options, users and dealers need a way of distinguishing them apart. Draper has cleverly used colour coded handles to help users choose. Triple ground saws have a red or orange handle – orange for first fix and red for second fix. The double ground saws have a lime green or yellow handle, with lime being the first fix and yellow the second fix. If it has a blue handle, then you have chosen a tenon saw.
I tried the saws in hardwood, softwood, OSB, MDF, and ply. My prejudice still applies – I prefer the double ground tooth pattern. The triple ground teeth cut very quickly, particularly in softwood and I could see that some users would routinely use this tooth pattern to save loads of time.
But the double sting of the Venom is also in the price – looking around the market, I would expect to pay around £4.79 ex VAT/£5.75 inc VAT for my favourite 500mm double ground Venom saw. But I would recommend dealers to look at the deals that Draper has on the table, both in terms of the merchandiser options and the pallet quantity options. The Venom Saw Range has a lot to offer – not only are they very competent trade saws, but the prices are keen too. Everything to like.