Saw Shootout: Silky vs Agawa

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by leightyj2, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. leightyj2

    leightyj2 Supporter Supporter

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    I decided to do a brief review of my two favorite saws incase anyone was interested in trying them out but afraid to bite the bullet. First some specs on them, the silky bigboy 2000 with extra large teeth has a 14.5'' blade length and a thickness of 1.8mm. It is the thickest of the silky folding saws (besides the katana models). It weights in at 1.1lb and packs flat and easily into the interior of most rucksacks. The agawa canyon boreal 21 saw weighs in at 1.1lb as well and comes in at 22'' total length when closed up. This saw takes replacement blades from agawa canyon and will also accept the bacho replacement 21'' bow saw blades. I have to say though that you get a slightly tighter tension with agawa's blades and I highly recommend getting their dry wood or sidney rancher blade.

    Just to make a note: this is not my first day in the woods using these saws (I just keep my tools clean ;)). I have owned both for over a year and have cut many wheelbarrow loads full of kindling for the winter house woodstove with each of these in prep for last winter and this one. I also have used them both on many dayhikes and camping trips and just bumming around in the woods daily;cutting everything from small kindling for a cooking fire, to felling and bucking large hardwood trees to use in winter outdoor fires when winter camping.

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    As far as the test, I had a 6'' thick seasoned oak log I needed to chop up for my woods coffee and figured this was about at thick as one would probably normally use a pack saw to buck up. I timed the duration it took me to saw through the log twice for each of the saws and averaged their times (so four total trials). I figure this is a crude but reasonable way to compare the two. Anyways here we go!
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    First log cut with the bigboy 2000 was done relatively fast for this being dry oak. The saw only cuts on the pull stroke and because it is a bit thicker than the other silkys it dosen't have the tendency to bind. The average between the two logs I cut with this (same thickness of 6'' diameter) took me 31.2 seconds.

    IMG_1861.JPG
    As you can see the cut was quite smooth and uniform. Although the teeth are aggressive, the saw does not bind like a bacho laplander and pulls very smoothly. The wood does have a few punky looking spots but I can assure you it was rock solid the whole way through, not even a fingernail could mark it up.
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    An interesting thing about this saw is that you can use this second position where the blade is more inline with the handle for cutting near the ground. Personally I did not find it to be that useful but perhaps it would be to some.

    Next up is the Agawa canyon boreal 21!
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    This blade is much thinner being a traditional bowsaw and has a slightly longer pull at 21''. It also cuts on both the push and the pull stroke. The two logs I cut with this (same oak and same thickness) took me an average of 34.3 seconds!
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    As you can see from the crossectional view the agawa boreal 21 cuts very smoothly as well and the dry wood blade did not bind even once, just like the silky big boy.

    Lets look at packability:
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    As you can see, the boreal 21 does not easily fit in the interior compartment of the continental rucksack. At 21'' it is not nearly as packable, whereas the silky big boy 2000 fits in the interior hydration bladder/laptop sleeve inside the pack easily. Either saw would slide down the side between the side pouches of this pack. If you were going to strap them to the bottom, the bigboy 2000 is about the same width of most packs, but the boreal 21 saw will stick out on either side when strapped to the bottom of most backpacks.

    Overall thoughts:
    Both are really nice saws for the money. Price tag on the boreal 21 is $68.95 on amazon and the silky big boy is $51.20 on amazon. The boreal 21 outshines the silky in several ways however. The bucksaw design puts your hand perpendicular to the blade which is more comfortable when cutting repetitively. I have cut enough kindling with both of these to last all winter in our woodstove and was able to use the boreal 21 for about two straight hours of use, whereas the silky saw's handle fatigued my wrist in about half an hour of consistent cutting 2-4'' dry wood. The silky saw's handle requires you to be using your forearm and intrinsic hand muscles to grip hard during both the push and the pull stroke because your hand is parallel to the force you are exerting. However, the bucksaw only requires your grip strength during the pull stroke, because during the push your just pushing your hand into the handle. This is not a problem at all for making a little fire for coffee or cooking. But if you are camping with 3-4 people and you end up on firewood duty for a long night around the campfire, your going to get a fatigued wrist faster with the folding saw style.

    Some bonuses of the silky are packability, ease of cutting due to the silky pull stroke cut, and reach! This thing ends up being over 28'' long when fully extended and this is really nice when you are trying to reach fatwood branches. Also because the blade is free on one end you are not limited in the thickness of a log you can cut. Whereas with the agawa the front brace on the saw is smaller than the handle and without rotating your log you are not going to buck up a 20'' diameter tree with this saw.
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    Overall these are both super great choices for the woods and both beat the pants off of a bahco laplander or any of the other smaller folding saws. The silky bigboy2000 is packable and lightweight. It even fits at the bottom of my finnish gasmask bag for woods bumming. It is also low profile because it fits inside any pack (including a HPG tarahumara). I like that I can bring it with me and cut anything from a 1'' branch to a 20'' blown down tree on a trail. You sacrifice comfort for convenience with the folding design but this size folder is the perfect compromise IMO.
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    The agawa canyon boreal 21 is a beast of a saw that is about as big as I would take with me into the woods for a dayhike or trip. If I know I will be doing alot of cutting, I would prefer to bring this saw with me because it does not fatigue you as fast and it cuts just as well as a silky. It is also nice that if the blade gets dull you can replace them for $10.00 whereas a replacement silky blade is a whomping $38! Also you can use the metal saw body to knock branches off a tree (sounds weird but it works so well) and the thing is just really tough!

    Another cool thing about the silky is that the spine is super sharp and it strikes a firesteel extremely well (better than my SAK awl). Both saw blade backs will do this, but the silky spine is sharper and more durable for this task.
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    I made this post because I see very little reviews of the agawa canyon boreal 21 and wanted to get the word out to anyone who has not seen it before. The boreal 21 pairs well with a boys axe or a GB scandi forest axe, and I like pairing my silky big boy with a GB SFA or my 23'' kelly woodslasher axe. I know @IAwoodsman has done a video using the silky before and more recently @Panzer (the prepared wanderer) has done a great video on it harvesting fatwood. I would highly recommend watching his video on youtube. For more on the boreal 21 saw Joe Robinet and Shawn from myselfreliance use them frequently in videos on youtube as well. If any others own either of these saws I would love to hear your feedback on them!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  2. Eagle Scout

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    Good stuff here. Thanks!

    The BigBoy has had a place in my pack for two years. Will take a serious look at the agawa canyon boreal 21.

    Replacement blade cost on the Silky is a factor. My last one was over $50 from Japan.
     
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  3. leightyj2

    leightyj2 Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks! Yeah the replacement silkys are so much. I really like the boreal 21 a lot, it's a pretty perfect saw. The agawa blades hold an edge really well also.
     
  4. Watcher of the Woods

    Watcher of the Woods Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Awesome, this is exactly what I was looking for, thank you!
     
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  5. Kyle363

    Kyle363 Supporter Supporter

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    Love both my Silky and my Agawa. I have the sidney rancher blade and no other hand saw can out cut that blade. The only thing that my Silky can do better is cutting fat wood. Other saws tend to get clogged during that process but not the Silky.
     
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  6. leightyj2

    leightyj2 Supporter Supporter

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    I agree with all of your points! I have yet to personally own a Sidney rancher blade but it is a better aggressive dry wood blade for sure. In hindsight I wish I bought the orange handle for visibility but in the fall when the leaves are orange, the green handle is still pretty visible
     
  7. Crooked Penguin

    Crooked Penguin Scout

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    Great comparison, thanks!

    I was looking for one of those folding buck-saws years ago but couldn't find one on my side of the pond and it was just too expensive to import one from the US. I eventually ended up with a Laplander instead and it fitted my needs at the time so no biggie. I did catch the Silky-virus recently though, I now have a F180 and a Ultra Accel and am still waiting on a Bigboy XL from Japan.

    The blades are on the expensive side compared to the whole saw, but that does seem a bit much. Not sure if I'll ever get it at this point but I paid 32 euro or about 40 dollars (excl shipping) for a Bigboy XL from Japan (so not just the saw-blade).
     
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  8. Eagle Scout

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    Looks like replacement BigBoy 2000 XL blades are running around $38 these days. Had paid closer to $50 shipped last year. They are $53 direct from Silky right now.

    Because the BigBoy is long in hand open, I tend to use it like a machete. It's great for knocking down small growth out of trees and grasses/growth along the trail. Not great for the blade I know, but it does a great job. The reach of that saw is awesome.

    The only time I've broken a blade was lending it to a buddy. He put the saw against a log, put his weight into it, and attempted a push cut to start. Snapped the blade right in half.
     
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  9. Crooked Penguin

    Crooked Penguin Scout

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    They're around 40 euro over here too, so about the same price as in the US. I bet they're much cheaper in Japan though, but unfortunately ebay keeps removing Japanese Silky offerings at Japanese prices. I was lucky to buy my Bigboy when I did, as ebay removed all Silky offerings from that seller the next day.

    Still, they'll pop-up again probably, but you'll have to be watching and ready to pull the trigger when they do.
     
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  10. beachbunny

    beachbunny Scout

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    thanks for the writeup, i am working on getting a 650. driving back on the ak hiway,the bahco and gbsfa were just a wee bit small for some stuff.just picked up a council 4# for the next go around with the silky i'll be set
     
  11. Swboats

    Swboats Tinder Gatherer

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    Thanks for this. I was really torn between the two and this comparison really made my mind up. I'm going with the Silky simply because of its weight versus ability. If I was going to cut up a lot of wood for the winter, I'd use my chainsaw. But for fixing up a bush camp or general tinkering in the woods, the Silky just seems perfect. Thanks again!
     
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  12. LostViking

    LostViking Supporter Supporter

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    I have several Silky Saws. A Super Acel 240 I think, sees the most use. The shorter one is stashed in the vehicle.

    Although I would like to snag a Boreal soon.

    One thing to note, a curved blade like that on your Silky will almost always out cut a straight blade. But a straight blade has some advantages too, like easier more precise notching.

    I agree the Silky style handle will fatigue faster. Maybe if we did it 3 or four days a week that would go away.

    One advantage I see with the silky, is there are no depth restrictions. You could cut a 4x8 sheet of plywood because there is no top frame to get in the way.

    It's amazing how well these cut. They add a new dimension to camping.
     
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  13. Midwest.Bushlore

    Midwest.Bushlore Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I actually had to do that last week! The weather here in Post Falls finally got hot enough that it was even miserable in my bedroom at night so I decided to install a window AC. All the homes here seem to have the goofy windows that open to the sides instead of up and down, making it a lot more work to put an AC in the window. I had my local Lowe's cut a sheet of plywood to fill the opening above the AC but I measured wrong and it was a couple inches too tall to fit. Only thing I had on hand was my Silky Bigboy. To my considerable surprise it was extremely easy to make a very precise cut to remove the 2" required to fit. It looked virtually like it had been cut with a circular saw. Amazing!
     
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