Lie Nielsen’s Salesman talks BS

Someone on the Australian woodworking forum that I regularly visit put this video up and called its bluff. I thought this was a new video but as it stands it’s dated back to 2015. The salesperson tries to convince the audience that tapered saws, as in height not tapered in thickness, are better than straight saws. His argument is that it’s impossible to saw over the baseline when you’re cutting dovetails with a tapered saw, but that’s not the part that bothers me. What bothers me is when he said “I don’t want to go over the baseline because that will compromise the whole joint.” Wait for it here is another salesperson’s BS, “That’ll end up racking, changing over time with the wood.” What the hell is he talking about? Sawing past the baseline will NOT result in a sloppy fit nor will it rack. If there was any truth to this, then many of my joinery would’ve failed, many of our ancestors joinery would have failed, especially those who intentionally sawed past the baseline when sawing lap dovetails or as our American friends call it half blind dovetails.

It’s people like that who will say whatever they have to just to make a sale irrespective if it’s false and people like who tarnish the good name of a company that has served us faithfully and truthfully for over 30 years. What is it I love about Lie Nielsen? Above all, besides the quality and second to none customer service is they’re traditionalists. Their tools are beautiful. They don’t take a beautiful design and turn it into some space age Buck Rogers of the 25th century tool. They replicate antique tools and even bring back what was once extinct. Some were cheaper to buy than the antique like the Lie Nielsen bench rabbet plane. I think I’ve said enough so I will leave you to have a read of what what one of our saw makers and forum moderator’s Ian Wilkie said on the topic.


 Your right Lance, it does look a bit like LN’s attempt to outdo Lee Valley on April 1st!

Where do I start? There was no explanation of how the canted (I prefer to call that particular taper a “cant” to distinguish it from a taper of the blade thickness), blade is supposed to help you hit the line on the far side. In fact, if anything it should make it harder. If the tooth line is parallel with the spine, which you can easily watch, then by keeping that horizontal you’ll hit the line back & front simultaneously. Judging whether the tooth line is horizontal from a canted spine is surely less intuitive!

Sawing to the rear line is something I struggled with at first, with any saw. I’d say, provided the saw is reasonably sharp & set, the major aid to accurate sawing is simply practice.

That said, there are a few things you can do to help yourself. The first thing is to place the job in the vise at a height so that when you hold the saw comfortably & ‘naturally’, the toothline is roughly horizontal. For most of us, that will be with your wrist in a ‘neutral’ position, neither rotated up nor down wrt your forearm. That way you’ll saw “level” almost by default. Now precisely what height the job will be depends on the hang-angle of the saw – the more ‘vertical’ the handle, the higher up you need to hold the saw to have the teeth horizontal. The LN saw has a higher hang-angle than I prefer for this job, and our demonstrator put the sawing point low down in the vice, which allowed him to hold the saw ‘naturally’ and have the teeth horizontal.

That’s fine for you young fellas who can still see that far, but chronologically-challenged optics like mine need things up close & personal. I set the cutting point at around elbow height so to hold the saw horizontal I need a more upright handle. My favourite D/T saw does have a canted back, as a matter of fact, but purely because I like the look, not for any perceived ergonomic advantage, it’s the angle of the grip that makes cutting to te rear line easy. I have similar saws with straight backs & slightly different hang angles but provided I place the cutting points appropriately, I’ll take bets that I can saw to the back line spot-on 8 out of 10 times with these too, without watching the exit side.

Nobody of sound mind would stand there pondering all this every time they pick up a saw! It’s just something that comes with practice; you know intuitively where to place things for the best/most comfortable/most accurate sawing, just as you automatically reach for an appropriate size & pitch of saw (if you have a choice) and you unconsciously adjust the stroke to the length of the saw you’re using. I’d been using saws successfully enough for at least 40 yeas before it ever occurred to me to analyze the process in any way.

And that bit of BS about over-cutting causing sloppy joints & wracking?!! Somebody tell ‘im it’s the side cuts that matter, mate! Small over-cuts are neither here nor there structurally, I always advise a newbie (as I was advised) to cut from the show side so that the joint will at least look neat on one side. Anyone who has repaired old drawers will know it was fairly common practice to deliberately over-cut half-lap D/T sockets by miles at the back in order to minimise the amount of uncut area on the sides & speed up waste removal. The tails still fitted firmly, and most I’ve come across were still perfectly sound after many years of being pulled & pushed around. Our woodwork teacher was an old-school cabinetmaker who showed us the method but made it clear to us he thought it was sloppy technique, though I reckon if I’d been banging out drawers all day every day I’d have been sorely tempted to do the same.

Nah, that video has to be an ‘April-firster’…. “


2 thoughts on “Lie Nielsen’s Salesman talks BS

  1. I think the guy is/was well-intentioned, but is/was poorly informed and talking nonsense to make his sales pitch more convincing. Of course, it’s still BS, but intentional BS smells so much worse, don’t you think?

    I was disgusted by how he clamped his test-piece board in his vice at an obvious angle. I cringed when he banged his saw on the marking gauge. Rookie. I was taught that cutting past the line is also a rookie mistake, even if the extra kerf doesn’t show.

    As Ian wrote, the trick to hitting the line and not cutting past it depends entirely on practice not the cant/taper of the blade.

    Are LN’s panel saws double tapered as proper Disston panel saws once were or just tapered in thickness from handle to tip? Living in Japan, it’s expensive to get the newer LN products to try.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. LN saws are canted not tapered in blade thickness, apparently that is a very expensive process and difficult as well. I think the salesman is a woodworker, a machine type woodworker not a hand tool user. I think he turned to sales and therefore uses cheap tactics (lies) to make sales. What he doesn’t realise is that seasoned woodworkers also watch these demos. I think it was poor on LN’s part that they never picked this up.
    Here is another BS from one of our Aussie tool shops called Timbecon. To cut along story short he said that “American woods compared to Australian woods are soft and that western saws can only cut soft woods.” He also said “Japanese saws are perfect for Australian hard dense woods and therefore we should buy Japanese saws.” Well guess who sells them? yep he does. Another cheap dirty tactic used to make a sale. Since you sell Japanese tools can you inform me on how well do their saws cut through hardwoods.


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