|Name:||Irwin Marathon Coarse Cut Carpenter Saw – 15”|
|Price:||$18.99 (often on sale for less than $15)|
|Overall Saw Length:||18”|
The Irwin Marathon Coarse Cut Carpenter Saw – 15 is an aggressive cutting hand saw. It was found locally on sale at Canadian Tires for $13.99.
It’s often praised and recommended in the Boundary Water Canoe Area (BWCA) message board by members who frequently clear portages. In addition, many of these members have compared and preferred this saw over popular folding saws and bow saws.
- M2 Tooth Technology
- Blade made in Denmark
- 12pt Front Teeth | 9pt Back Teeth
- Large Gullets
- 1mm thick body blade
- Ergonomic handle
- Tapered nose
The blade is outstanding and instantly stood out upon inspection due to the following:
The larger tooth design is reminiscent of the aggressive Great American Tooth Pattern. There are 12 cutters in a row, followed by uniquely shaped large gullets. As a result, the large profile teeth cut and rake at the same time while the neighboring large gullets provide extra room for carrying and removing wood shavings.
Smaller cutting teeth are triple grounded to provide more efficient cuts. In addition, they are heat-treated for extra hardness.
The blade is impressive. At 1mm thick, it’s extra strong and rigid. In addition, according the package, it’s made in Denmark.
A coat of lacquer comes pre-applied on the blade. Signs of it pealing at the tip are common. The lacquer is mostly cosmetic and helps to reduce rusting on store shelve. After usage, the saw blade should be cleaned, and sprayed with WD-40 for storage.
The ergonomic wooden handle is comfortable to hold as it is covered with a plastic and textured rubber grip.
Even better was the balance and weight of the saw. It simply felt great when held in the 45° or 90° cutting position. The saw has a hefty feeling to it, but still light enough and comfortable to hold.
No plastic saw blade guard was included. The teeth are razor sharp and need to be covered to prevent accidental cuts.
The saw is packaged in a bright blue and yellow cardboard sheath. Unfortunately it is useless despite the attractive glossy colors. It slides off too easily and the cardboard peels apart to easily.
Luckily, a spare hockey skate guard can be used on the saw blade!
- See, DIY: Quick Release 15” Hand Saw Blade Guard for instructions
15” vs. 20” vs. 24”
A longer blade cuts larger logs more efficiently at the expense of portability.
The Irwin Marathon Coarse Cut Carpenter Saw comes in three sizes of 15”, 20”, and 24”.
Lowes sells the 15” for $19.97 and the 20” for $29.98. Prices are too high.
However, Lowes was a convenient location to inspect the two saws. In hand, the balance and weight of the 15” saw was better and more comfortable. It simply felt more natural. In addition, the blade was obviously more rigid due to the shorter length.
For portable on the trail use get the 15” saw. The 20” is too long as it won’t fit nicely in a backpack or strap nicely to the side of a backpack. However, if portability is a non issue, get the 20” or 24” for the extra and more efficient cutting length.
Irwin Marathon Coarse Cut Carpenter Saw – 15” vs. Bahco PG-72
A hand saw compared to a folding saw. It’s not a fair comparison. In this case, the Irwin Marathon Coarse Cut Carpenter Saw is a superior saw for cutting wood. The only advantage the Bahco PG-72 has is its small portable size and bright orange color.
On a more positive note, the Bahco PG-72 complements the Irwin Marathon Coarse Cut Carpenter Saw as a backup saw. In other words, both are highly recommended.
Nonetheless, the reason for the brief comparison, is to gain insight into the Irwin’s saw increased popularity for wilderness use.
|Irwin 15”||Bacho PG-72|
|Price:||$18.99 (often on sale for less than $15)||$17.75|
|Grounding:||3||2 or 3 (every third tooth)|
The cutter tooth designs are similar, though the Bahco has a slightly coarser cut at 7 TPI. They both feature multiple groundings for increased cutting efficiency, and heat-treatment for longer lifespans.
Both blades are made overseas in Europe. They’re razor sharp, thicker than the norm, and made of high quality steel.
Neither saw has depth of cut issues like bow saws. They are only limited by their blade length.
Irwin’s biggest distinguishing feature are the large gullets which carry more wood shavings. In addition, due to the unique gullets, the larger tooth profile cuts and rakes at the same time.
Price is similar for both saw. However, the Irwin saw frequently goes on sale for less than $15 and is commonly available at multiple local hardware stores.
There are a few reasons for the Irwin Marathon Coarse Cut Carpenter Saw wilderness popularity.
First, the cutter teeth are similar to those on popular portable/foldable saws, but slightly smaller and less aggressive. However, larger gullets and thicker blade equalize the blades. The larger gullets carry more saw dust, and give a larger tooth profile similar to the aggressive Great American Tooth Pattern. The thicker blade results in less wobble and a straighter cut.
Second, for cutting wood a bigger saw is ideal. Longer blades are more efficient than shorter blades due to the longer stroke. In addition, a larger blade can cut larger branches. Given that clearing portages of fallen trees and processing wood for campsites involve lots of sawing, the largest packable saw will be carried.
Third is durability. The Irwin saw is one solid well constructed piece that is dependable. No parts to be lost. Portable saws tend to have parts that will wear out, break, or be lost over time after heavy usage.
Fourth is convenience. Strapping the saw to the outside of backpack provides easy access. It can be pulled out for immediate clearing. On the other hand, a portable saw needs to be unfolded or assembled for use.
Fifth is word of mouth. The saw has been tested by several portage clearing and camping members. It has stood up to their heavy sawing usage and is recommended by them. They’re experience carries weight. They have tried many different saws from the Sven Saw, Sawvivor, Trailblazer Take Down Bucksaw, Silky saws, Bob Dustrude Quick Buck Saw, to various bow saws. In many cases, they preferred and switched to the Irwin saw.
Sixth is cost. The Irwin saw is relatively cheap and easily replaceable.
Ultimately it’s the balance of cutting power, durability, portability, and price which makes Irwin saw a favorite. Cutting power is not the absoulute best, but close. Durability however is top notch as the hardened saw teeth lasts a long time. Portability, is a weak point but it fits nicely on the outside or inside of a backpack. Lastly, the price is cheap. On sale, only a bow saw is cheaper than the Irwin saw.
Irwin deserves praise for creating a disposable hand saw that works well for cutting trees. Bravo for making a quality product.
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