They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Or do they?
After a rather disappointing winter camping trip with a new SOG folding saw last January, it appeared I’d made a poor purchase. The saw seemed to require far too much effort for the results it yielded. I didn’t feel like running out and spending another 20-40 dollars just to try another, so I chucked it into a camping bin to keep as a spare and forgot about it.
My wife and I were about to take our kids for a wilderness canoe trip in the BWCA in July, and we needed to bring a saw. The thought of bringing that SOG along for the ride didn’t sit well with me. Having seen good things posted about Silky folding saws on BWCA.com forums, I decided to take a chance on one.
Unfortunately, the Forest Service declared days before our trip that fires would not be allowed due to chronically dry conditions. The yet-untested Silky saw stayed home, its abilities (or weaknesses) unknown.
Until last week.
While we were up north for a long pre-Thanksgiving weekend, I put the SOG and Silky saws to the test against an old folding saw of mine (Woodzig), as well as a you-can’t-find-that-in-the-store saw, just for fun.
A piece of aspen was chosen to sacrifice. It had a segment approximately three feet long with a remarkably consistent diameter: almost exactly two inches.
I counted the number of cycles—forward/back— it took to cut through. For the sake of accuracy, I asked my daughter to double check my work. We got the same count every time.
Each saw was given four chances, to allow for any variations in the wood to be averaged out.
The SOG folding saw has an overall length of approximately 17.5”. Its row of teeth is approximately 7.5”. It is the only model in this test that comes with a carrying pouch. The pouch is nothing special; frankly, I wish they’d have put that money into R&D. This saw (which almost never unlocked for its first use and was almost returned to the store) required 22, 24, 30, and 28 cycles to cut through the wood, with a sluggish average of 26.
The Silky F180 is the most petite of the four with an overall length of 16” and cutting surface of only 6.5”. It was more than twice as fast as the SOG, needing only 13, 10, 13, and 14 cycles, with an average of only 12.5.
My Woodzig folding saw has been around a while (decades). I’m not even sure what the model is and it doesn’t look like anything like it is still on the market. Its overall unfolded length is 20.5”, with about 9.5” of teeth. I’ve always thought it was pretty efficient, although it gives the impression of being flimsy because there is some play between the blade and handle. While not as fast as the Silky, it beat the SOG with 19, 22, 22, and 21 cycles, for an average of 21.
I happened to have my wife’s grandfather’s bucksaw readily available and threw it into the mix. It is obviously not a viable option for a canoe or backpacking trip, but I wondered how it would stack up with its extremely basic blade. With 9, 10, 8, and 10 cycles to cut through, the buck was the fastest (though not that far ahead of the Silky). Not bad.
1. Silky F180
2. Woodzig (model unknown)
Other than to go by the numbers, there doesn’t appear to be a good way to rank saws. I mean, they basically do one thing. Features and options are minimal, and the folding saws are relatively the same size.
Among the folding saws, the Silky was the clear winner. Though the bucksaw was faster, the Silky was nipping at its heels— especially impressive considering the bucksaw’s blade is more than twice as long.
One nice thing about the Silky is that its blade can be locked into two different positions, which can be useful. Of the folding saws, however, it is the only one whose blade does not lock into the closed position. Probably neither here nor there.
I wouldn’t mind trying out more saws, but at this point I have enough to choose from. There is one folding bow saw out there which has a good reputation, but seems a bit long for stuffing into a dry bag (or backpack). Maybe I’ll consider it when I wear out the Silky, since the F180 replacement blade ($30) costs almost as much as the whole saw ($37).