The ryoba saw is prized by Japanese carpenters for its versatility, as it combines two specialised functions into one highly capable tool. Ryoba blades feature two teeth patterns on either edge of the blade — one set for cross-cutting across the grain of timber, and the other for rip-cutting with the grain. A Ryoba saw can be used to rip a board to the desired width with one edge and cut it to length with the other, or pressed into service on larger joinery if required.
If you are considering a first purchase of a Japanese saw, we recommend the Ryoba style as being the most capable of handling whatever is thrown at it, whether in the workshop or on a job site. The absence of a spine makes the ryoba appropriate for deep cuts or ripping, and the sawplate and teeth are quite tough and robust. We find that once a woodworker has tried this workhorse of a tool, it is destined to become part of a growing collection of Japanese saws.