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What is a Veneer Saw?

By Summer Banks
Updated May 17, 2024
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A veneer saw is a small, handheld tool used to cut hardwood veneer. It often has a curved blade that has 13 teeth per inch. Most often, veneer saw blades will measure between three inches (7.62 cm) and four inches (10.16 cm) in length. Its handle is usually small and offset, so that flush cuts can be made in veneer. There are three popular types of these tools — traditional, Japanese, and French saws.

Traditional veneer saws are most often built with small, rectangular blades. Handles can be attached to the center of a blade, allowing for flush cuts in veneer. Larger versions of traditional veneer saws are created to look like handsaws. The blade of a large veneer saw can measure 12 in (30.48 cm) or more in length. Handles may also be attached at an upward angle to allow for flush cuts.

A Japanese veneer saw may have a small, rounded blade measuring three inches (7.62 cm) in length. Unlike a traditional veneer saw handle, Japanese versions attach a longer, seven-inch (17.78 cm) handle from the end of the blade. These Japanese tools often resemble a common, kitchen steak knife with a rounded blade. Small, rounded blades may make cutting thin veneer easier.

French veneer saws, also called French flush-cut saws, are commonly used for making dowel rods, and other protruding wood pieces, flush with a surface. While Japanese and traditional handles are long and thin, French veneer saw handles are usually made from blocks of wood. The saw blades are often attached to the underside of this wooden block, with two inches (5.08 cm) or more of blade extending from beneath the handle. French veneer saw blades are curved for a flush cut.

Traditional, Japanese, and French blades are commonly used to cut or trim smaller sections of veneer. For large jobs, veneer circular saw blades can be used. Circular saw blades can have different characteristics, depending on the type of material veneer pieces are made of. Common materials include wood, laminate, and melamine.

Widths, the number of teeth per inch, and blade diameters may differ based upon veneer material. Tooth shape may also be changed to adapt to differing veneers. For instance wood, melamine, and laminate veneer circular blades can be either 10 inches (25.4 cm) or 12 inches (30.48 cm) in diameter, with a minimum of 80 teeth per inch. Tooth shape for the wood and melamine veneer blade can also be different than tooth shape for a laminate blade.

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Discussion Comments
By Emilski — On Feb 07, 2012

@cardsfan27 - There are a couple things you could check. First off, is the saw new? If not, it could be the case that the blade is dull and is catching. If the blade might be bad, they are easy to replace. The next thing I would check is that you are pulling the saw in the right direction. One side of the blade will be made to pull and one to push. You can use whichever is most comfortable for you, but make sure you're using the right side.

The other thing I would suggest if you aren't already doing it is to use some type of a guide while you cut. It is important that the blade is always at 90 degrees. Having a piece of wood or something there to rest the saw against will help with that. It might help keep the grain of the veneer together, too.

The last thing that I like to do with some types of wood is, after you have your line marked, take a towel with a very tiny bit of water on it, and just lightly moisten the wood. Don't get too much water, or it will soak into the wood and cause it to swell and warp. Using the water will make the wood more supple.

By cardsfan27 — On Feb 06, 2012

I am working on a project where I am trying to make a veneer inlay for a jewelry box. I have never really worked with veneer before, and I am having some problems.

A lot of times, when I try to cut the veneer, the teeth on the blade with catch or something, and it ends up ripping part of the veneer. I'm not sure what I am doing wrong, but I don't think that is supposed to happen.

I have the traditional veneer saw that is mentioned in the article. What does everyone else use? Perhaps the Japanese kind is better. Also, it seems like the teeth are sharp, but maybe not. How can you check? Any other suggestions people might have would be appreciated.

By Izzy78 — On Feb 05, 2012

@jcraig - You are thinking of the actual production of veneer. In that case, you are right, it is usually done at a saw mill where they have the ability to veneer an entire log at once. What this article is talking about, and what woodworkers call veneer saws, are tools to cut the veneer once it is off the tree.

A lot of people do projects where they make intricate designs with different types of wood veneers. They might use walnut and cherry for the dark colors, maple for lighter colors, etc. When they get the sheets of veneer of the different wood, they can use one of the saws mentioned to cut it.

It isn't completely impossible to make veneer in a woodshop, though. I know a couple of people who have made a special jig to set a piece of wood up on their bandsaw. Since the bandsaw blade is very thin and precise, it can shave off thin pieces of veneer.

By jcraig — On Feb 04, 2012

Okay, so I think I am a little bit confused here. I know what veneer is. It is a just a thin sheet of wood. What I am having trouble understand is how any of these saws could do that job.

I thought usually veneer was made in a saw mill by them "peeling" the log somehow. That is how I have seen it done on TV shows at least when they are making plywood. Is it really possible for someone to make his one veneer with a saw at home?

It doesn't sound like it would be impossible, but it would at least be fairly difficult I would think. Along with that, it doesn't sound like any of the tools mentioned would be the most effective for the job. I just assumed that people would use something like a special table saw or something to do it. With the saws mentioned here, how would you keep them in line to get the same thickness of wood all the way across? Maybe there is something I am not getting here, but I just don't see how you could do it with the tools mentioned.

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