Sunday, January 30, 2011

Silky F-180 vs. Sierra Saw

Today in the News:  It was up past 60 degrees F here on Saturday.  I brought one of the oompa-loompas to skating lessons at the lake.  I was standing with parents on the lake watching the lesson and the ice boomed and popped.  I darn near jumped out of my shoes and got low on the ice quickly.  One of the parents, obviously wondering what I was doing, turned and asked, "Was that the ice"?  I looked back at him and I'm sure my eyes were as big as basketballs.  Be careful on the ice!

Links of the Day: and .  We're mutual followers.  I spent about an hour and a half last night looking through this awesome photography blog.  His pictures remind me much of what Andrew Wyeth painted......and I'm a HUGE Wyeth fan.  His subjects are diverse and really spark a lot of memories of my life on the Maine coast. Please, if you're a fan of photography, you must check out these sites.  As a side note, I spent that hour and a half looking at his blog.  Looks like his website has even more picture.  There goes another hour and a half. ;)

Silky F-180 vs. Sierra Saw

To begin, I have no affiliation with either company.  I heard about Silky saws on the BCUSA forum and the Sierra saw I picked up at China-Mart.  I should clarify here that the Sierra saw featured is not mine;  it belongs to L.J., my nephew (he also took all of the photos for this particular article).  I bought two last year and gave one to L.J. and the other I lost.  Bummer.  That's why I bought "the-saw-which-we-no-longer- speak-of", which, ultimately brought me to buying the Silky saw.  China-Mart no longer sells the Sierra saw, but from what I understand, it is actually made by Coghlan's

Let's begin.

Here they are.  Silky on the left, Sierra on the right.

Sierra saw - $7.00.  Overall, the handle feels pretty cheap.  It is hard plastic with no rubber for grip.  It has a locking latch on the top of the saw that also feels cheap and loose.  However, the blade feels razor sharp out of the package.  L.J. and I have both used this saw a lot and the sharpness has lasted through use and abuse.

Silky - F-180 - $25.00.  I was reluctant to spend 25 bones on a saw, sight unseen.  $25.00 on my budget is a lot of money most days.  Mrs. Hotel gave me a budget for Christmas and this is one of the items I purchased.  The handle is made of plastic, but it isn't cheap plastic.  The grip is rubber.  I like that.  It prevents slippage and makes the saw comfortable to hold.  The saw itself was also very sharp out of the package.

You can see the locking mechanism on the top of the Sierra.  It is flimsy, but does the job.

Basically, I decided to cut the same tree with both saws and make the cuts close to each other.  I did this so that both saws would be cutting the same (or close to the same) diameter.  I took full, even strokes.  Here is the Sierra in action.

Stroke #5

Stoke #10

On stroke #15, the Sierra sliced through.  The thing that I always think when using this saw is that it was only $7.00.  Cutting with it doesn't require much effort and it makes nice clean cuts.

A little blurry, but this was the final product.  Not a bad cut at all!

Here is the F-180. It has a plastic button on the top that controls the lock.  It feels pretty durable.

Beyond that, it has two locking positions.  This is position #1.

Here is position #2.  I'm sure it has a use, but I haven't run into that problem yet.

I know, I should have gloves on.  But I don't.  It is all fun and games until someone loses a thumb.  This is stroke #5.

It only took ten strokes.  The cut at the end was also very clean.

Here they are folded.  The blade on the F-180 fits nicely in the slot.  It doesn't rattle loose.  I can't say the same about the Sierra.

L.J. doesn't worry much about it, though.  When I first started working with leather I made him this bandoleer and sheath.  I'll probably make a carrying case for the silky, but it will likely be of thicker leather that hangs from the belt.

Overall, I can't rank one saw over the other.  If you're on a tight budget, the Sierra saw is worth more than they charge for it.  While I'm not impressed with the overall construction of the saw, the blade is really sharp.  If you were a DIY guy, you could buy a saw like the Sierra and make a handle to your own specs. 

This is not to say that I'm disappointed in the Silky at all.  The finish and quality is great and the price tag isn't that bad, either.  I think I'm really going to enjoy it on the trail.  There are websites that sell replacement blades for a little over half of the cost of a full saw.  Again, you could buy the blade and make your own handle and sheath.  From what I understand, the Silky brand has quite a following with the arborist crowd.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel......out.


  1. Handle position #2 on the Silky may be for making undercuts, since thats something an arborist would often do. If the blades on either brand aren't hardened at the tip of the teeth, you can buy special files to sharpen them with, though a triangular file might work to touch up the tops of the teeth only.

  2. Any idea where I'd geta file like that, Gorges?


    Here is a video of the Silky bucksaw being used by gaga over at BCUSA. Now, it's more about him snapping paracord tightening his traditional buck, but this version of the Silky has the same dual lock. It looks like Gorges is right, undercutting comfortably.

  4. Well Mike, Japan Woodworker is probably one of the best, but there are others. I assume you know the basics of floating (joining) and setting saw teeth. Here's their webpage for "feather files":

  5. I have to say that folding saws have a good use but not when felling big trees. Regarding the video posted on you tube, i'd rather have the bucksaw anytime if i was to do some serious cutting. Folding saws only cut one way but buck saws saw both ways. Plus the bigger blade makes it easy to slice through big trunks. If the folding saw is like a small sword then it is not compact and i am sure compact and light are the keywords here... As for the paracord snapping that was hilarious, but my guess is that cord is not paracord...Plus if the tree or trunk is properly propped then its easy to cut even with a modest tool.
    The Oak and The Mountain

  6. nice review, bro. (and follow on comments guys!)

  7. I intend on getting a bucksaw. I like the ones that Don has at What I've realized over the years is that axes and saws don't always go hand-in-hand. Different tools, different jobs.

    Make no assumptions about me, Gorges! I don't know the first thing about saws when it comes to sharpening. That's a REALLY dying tradition. I think through the internet and folks I know, I can figure it out. I have a really nice (nice = beat up) 5 ft. one man crosscut sitting in my grandmother's attic back in Maine. Can't wait to get my hands on it. Maybe the next time I get home I'll ship it out here.