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Thread: Medallion Toolworks Dovetail Saw - a review

  1. #1

    Default Medallion Toolworks Dovetail Saw - a review

    Apologies in advance for the length. I got a little carried away.

    Last fall, I decided it was time to buy a real dovetail saw. I had surveyed the market some time ago and had pretty will decided to order one from Vlad Spehar but by the time I got around to placing an order he had close up his saw-making shop.

    This time I looked at the saws from Lie Neilson, Lee Valley (PAX), Adria and Mike Wentzel. Funny thing about buying dovetail saws by searching the Internet – they all look good and it’s really hard to tell which one feels and works better by looking at the pictures and reading the specs.

    Well if I couldn’t be objective, I had to be subjective. I preferred to buy Canadian - surely we can build saws just as well as the Americans. That eliminated Lie Nielson and Wentzel. The PAX saw from LV is made in Britain, but I was willing to make an exception because of the company that sold it. But it had a closed handle and that reminded me too much of my father’s old Craftsman panel saw; it looked like it would be too big and cumbersome for the fine dovetails that I envisioned myself making. So that left the Adria. Now to place the order.

    But before I got around to it, I noticed a thread or two on this forum about a dovetail saw “Ed from Oakville” was making. I contacted Ed for some more information and from the specifications he provided, it sounded just as good as all the other saws I had investigated. I also like the idea of buying a handcrafted product (there’s that subjectivity again), and I developed a mental picture of Ed labouring in his basement in Oakville wearing a leather apron and pounding out a thing of beauty with an anvil, a hammer and an open forge. After a couple more e-mails about specification and delivery, I pulled the trigger just before Christmas.

    When the saw arrived by mail just after New Year’s, it was packaged better than most of the fragile Christmas presents I sent to Calgary in early December: cardboard sheath around the blade, bubble wrap, crumpled newspaper and Styrofoam peanuts. After I liberated the saw, the first thing I noticed was its weight and how easily it came to hand (OK, that’s two things).

    The weight was just enough to make it feel like a quality tool and, I assume to help it move through the wood. But what I really liked was the way it felt in my hand. During my investigation, that was the area that gave me the most concern – how would the maker know how big my hand is? Vlad Spehar used to ask for hand measurements so he could build to suit, but he was the only one. Ed assured me he would fix whatever I didn’t like, so I thought it was worth the gamble. But no changes are required.

    When I got the saw to the shop and actually tried out the saw, it was, in a word, wonderful. The only thing I had to do was remember to keep moving it back and forth through the wood and the saw did the rest. It cut straight and effortlessly. I was happy!!

    I should say here, that I really have had no experience with any other Western dovetail saw, so at this point I had no basis for a comparison. (I do have a fine Japanese saw, but I haven’t been able to come to grips with the fact that it has to be pulled not pushed, so I keep bending it.) Coincidently, the Ottawa Woodworking Assoc. monthly meeting was coming up and one of the other members had some thoughts abut the PAX saw he had purchased, so we arranged to have a “saw off” to compare Ed’s saw, the PAX and a Lie Neilson. I spent most of my time comparing mine and the LN (I still don’t like the look of the PAX).

    In terms of a physical comparison, the LN is:
    üsmaller (blade width) and lighter
    üthe handle is also smaller, so getting a “firm” grip requires a little more squeezing
    üthe distance between the horns on the handle is a little longer so it feels sloppier in my hand

    As far as performance is concerned, I honestly couldn’t tell any difference. I didn’t take the time to count the number of strokes it took to cut a standard depth. The kerf width seems to be the same. No discernable difference in the effort required to push the saw through the wood.

    Since I already admitted that I liked my saw, I was particularly interested in what the other OWA members thought of it. After lots of sawing and discussion about the relative merits each one, I asked the group the big question. “Did I make a good choice? (I figured that was a safer question that “which do you like better?”). Overwhelmingly the answer was “YES”, particularly when I told them the price I paid (considerably less than the LN). What was particularly telling was the number of LN owners that asked for Ed’s contact information so they could discuss an order.

    For the more technically oriented people out there, here are the specs:
    üThe brass back is ¼”x ¾”x8" with a milled slot for the blade
    üThe saw blade is 0.020” thick
    üThe saw blade is 8" long and 2” wide (can be made anywhere from 1-1/2” to 2-1/2”)
    üFiled for a rip cut
    ü15 ppi. with approx 0.05" set on each side. (16ppi available)
    üHandle in Cocobolo, Padauk, QS European Beech or Spalted Apple. Others are available if Ed can find the wood

    Ed tells me that he’s investigating the possibilities of larger tenon saws and hopes to have some prototypes in the near future. But there may be a bit of a delay because he and his wife just welcomed son #3 and he may have to cut back on the anvil work for a while.

    The Readers Digest Version – I like the Medallion Toolworks Dovetail Saw and I’m sure you will too.
    Last edited by Paul in Ottawa; 01-12-2007 at 01:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    The thriving metropolis of Ayr, Ontario
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    Default

    Paul

    I'm looking forward to receiving mine. It sounds like Ed makes a nice product.

    Steve
    If a man speaks in the forest, and there's no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong

  3. #3

    Default

    I think you'll be happy Steve

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Oakville, ON
    Posts
    634

    Default Happy Groundhog Day, Ed!

    This past summer Ed came to my Galoot BBQ and he brought a bunch of his saws. The theme this year was DT saws. We had my old saws, an "R.H. Smith Successors to J. Flint" circa 1875, and "Tyzack, Turner and Sons" from the mid 20th C, plus an Adria, a couple of Lie Nielsen copies of the Independence Tool saw (you guys do know that LN bought out the IT saw company, and they make a nice copy of the "real thing" evil grin :^) and even a Grammercy DT saw.

    We didn't actually cut any dovetails, but we made a real hash out of the ends of a couple of boards. One of the most interesting differences between the saws (apart from the 'feel' of the handles) was the angle between the grip and the blade. One of Ed's saws had a very steep angle. I don't remember which saw came out on top, but Ed's were certainly able to compete with the top of the line stuff.

    I hosted the Halton Furniture Maker's hands-on night on Tuesday, and the topic was hand-cut dovetails. Once again, a stellar group of saws was assembled on my workbench, and half a dozen through dovetail joints were cut, several of them first-time efforts. Ed was busy attending to family business (#3 son's arrival - Congratulations!) so he and his saws were conspicuously absent. They would have impressed the group I'm sure!

    Darrell
    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

  5. #5

    Default love mine

    Aldo I have not used it a whole lot yet, I 'm please with everything about it. The saw itself is great, feel's good and cut great so far. The second thing that is great is the man itself that made it, after taking to ED over the phone, I shortly realized that he is a nice guys and as passion for making good quality saw. I can't wait for Ed to start making different one. If you compare the saw with other ones, the only thing that I can see is the price, low price.

    Thank's ED for the great saw and will talk soon.

  6. Default

    Just goes to show you that good guys can do well, so much of the success of many independant tool makers is based on the attitude of the tool maker to their craft and how they support their customers.....those that fail at this seldom survive.....Way to Go Ed, I need to check out the Oakville Saw makers offerings!!
    Take care,
    Jim

    My Passion
    www.pensforcanadianpeacekeepers.ca

    SPCHT

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Burlington
    Posts
    1,651

    Default Nice Review

    It's always interesting to hear about Canadian made tools. E-bay seems to have a few independent tools makers as well as past makers. Shepherd plane kits seem to be going for more money than they sold for from the maker. I personally find it really takes alot of know how and dedication to make a tool. Cheer's to Ed. Be nice to see a article in the magazine someday.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Oakville, Ontario
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    66

    Default

    Good evening all, I finally have some time to respond to all the kind words from everyone. Our third son arrived Tuesday morning it has been a whirlwind week but the lord of the manor should be asleep for a couple of hours.

    Paul, I want to say thank you so much for the time and thought you obviously put into your review and I am really humbled by your post. Within our community I really feel it is a privilege to be able to make a tool a fellow woodworker will enjoy using in their workshop. It has also allowed me to meet some wonderful people on this forum like Paul, Sebastien, Edward G. (I had an opportunity to see his workshop he fondly calls "Ted's Shed" and it is something most of us can only dream about!), Steve and Rick. I've known Darrell and Jim for a few of years and both are great guys and generous teachers of woodworking.

    Steve, I've started your saws and they should be on schedule for delivery .

    I am really proud of the wonderful support and encouragement I receive from Canadian woodworkers on this forum!

    Thank you all again.

    Best regards,

    Ed

  9. #9
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    Feb 2006
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    Montreal
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    Default

    Hey Ed,
    Congratulations on the new member to your family!
    Frank
    SPCHT

  10. #10
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    Jun 2006
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    Perth, Australia
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    Ed - my congratulations for the addition to the family!

    Paul - great review BUT WE MUST HAVE PICTURES!!

    Darrell - this will interest you (possibly others too):
    http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/d.../fatherSon.asp

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Oakville, Ontario
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by derekcohen View Post
    Ed - my congratulations for the addition to the family!

    Paul - great review BUT WE MUST HAVE PICTURES!!

    Darrell - this will interest you (possibly others too):
    http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/d.../fatherSon.asp

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Thank you for the congratulations Derek, Frank and Jim in B. I really should correct my previous post and state I am proud to have the support and encouragement of woodworkers all overy the world. I have learned and been encouraged by the dozens of tutorials and insights Derek has posted and continues to do. I also consider him a wonderful teacher .

    This is not a picture of Paul's actual saw but it is a Cocobolo handle as he ordered. It should give you a good idea of his saw.

    Thank you again everyone.

    Best regards,

    Ed
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
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    Jun 2006
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    Perth, Australia
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    Default

    That's a beautiful saw, Ed. Perfect positioning of the grain. Really nice work altogether.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  13. #13

    Default

    Thanks for posting that picture Ed. I was going to try and do that this morning.

    Paul

  14. #14
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    Mar 2006
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    Newfoundland
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    wendy

    Default

    Hi Paul,

    I just ordered a LN dovetail saw. hasn't arrived yet. I paid $125 I also own an Adria saw and paid around the same price for that.

    How much did you pay for your saw?

    wanda
    wanda

  15. #15
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    Feb 2006
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    Wanda

    I'm not sure what Ed's charging for his saws now, but I will almost guarantee you that it's less than either Adria or L-N, and a nicer saw than either to boot. I keep telling Ed that he's not charging enough, but I don't know if he's listening to me. Jim Shaver and I gave a bunch of his saws a bit of a workout this weekend at a one-day hand-sawing course with Chris Schwarz, and we were both very happy with Ed's saws.

    Steve
    If a man speaks in the forest, and there's no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong

  16. Default

    Ditto what Steve said,

    We attended a saw class given by Chris Schwarz of Popular Woodworking at Woodcraft in Sterling Heights MI on Sunday.

    Chris and his Wenzloff Kenyon Tenon saw



    We both had several of Ed's saws and they performed really well, Chris was also impressed.

    Steve and his Medallion tenon saw



    I shared my bench with Steve, we must have been twins seperated at birth..

    Last edited by Jim Shaver, Oakville Ont.; 03-17-2008 at 06:53 PM.
    Take care,
    Jim

    My Passion
    www.pensforcanadianpeacekeepers.ca

    SPCHT

  17. #17
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    Feb 2006
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    Stittsville
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wanda View Post
    Hi Paul,

    I just ordered a LN dovetail saw. hasn't arrived yet. I paid $125 I also own an Adria saw and paid around the same price for that.

    How much did you pay for your saw?

    wanda
    Hi Wanda,

    I'm going from memory here, and this was from from last summer...

    I believe the dovetail was as $85, I think the tennons where $145 (again, last summer picing).
    I'll also second the fact that Ed should be charging a lot more. Fantastic quality...

    Cheers,
    SPCHT

  18. #18
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    Mar 2006
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    wendy

    Default

    Hi,

    Hey guys I wouldn't be complaining about the price.. $85 sounds good to me. I'd try out Ed's saw if I didn't already own an adria and LN saw.

    Great pics! Wow, you actually got to cut tenons with Christopher Schwartz... I'm impressed. Wish I could attend a workshop like that.

    Nice bench!

    Wanda
    wanda

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Ottawa
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    774

    Default Danger, Danger

    Some time ago, I had the opportunity to try out a number of dovetail saws at our woodworking association meeting. I tried 3 traditional saws - paul's medallion toolworks saw, a Lie Nielson and a Pax. I was not at all impressed by the Pax and preferred the Medallion over the LN - not sure why, but it felt better. The fact that it was considerably cheaper may have had a small effect.

    Having been started down the slippery slope of hand planes by Conrad Sauer (no, I don't have any of his planes), I now find myself drawn to quality hand saws. I ordered a dovetail saw from Ed and received it in very short order. Now, every time I need to cut something, I think, can I use the dovetail saw?

    Dealing with the Ed, even through e-mail is very, very dangerous. He is so enthusiastic, helpful and eager to please, it makes you want to order every saw that he makes. It's worse than living 5 min. from a LV store.

    So, unless you want more than one very well balanced, effective and comfortable saw (not to mention beautiful), I would recommend that you be very cautious dealing with this man.

  20. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Nepean View Post
    It's worse than living 5 min. from a LV store.

    .
    Try living 10 minutes from Ed's house, 40 minutes from Konrads and having 5 LV's with in about an hours drive....shhhesh!
    Take care,
    Jim

    My Passion
    www.pensforcanadianpeacekeepers.ca

    SPCHT

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