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Saw Doctor

Kaiwhakatika Kani

Alternative titles for this job

Saw doctors set and adjust sawmill saws and repair, grind and sharpen hand, band and circular saws.


Saw doctors usually earn

$48K-$65K per year

Source: research, 2020.

Job opportunities

Job opportunities for saw doctors are good due to high demand for their services.


Pay for saw doctors varies depending on experience.

  • Saw doctors usually start on the minimum wage or a little more, with rates increasing as they gain experience.
  • Trained saw doctors may earn up to $65,000 a year.

Source: research, 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Saw doctors may do some or all of the following:

  • examine saws for faults
  • fix saws by welding, replacing teeth and hammering out lumps and twists
  • sharpen saws using a file or filing machine and adjust tension
  • maintain sawmill equipment and machinery
  • complete relevant documentation
  • ensure workshop areas comply with safety standards.

Skills and knowledge

Saw doctors need to have:

  • mechanical and technical skills
  • welding skills
  • knowledge of saw repair, sharpening and maintenance
  • knowledge of saw speeds, and wood and metal properties
  • an understanding of safe working practices.

Working conditions

Saw doctors:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work shifts at a sawmill
  • work in sawmills, manufacturing or engineering workshops, or for saw and blade-sharpening companies
  • may work in noisy and hazardous conditions
  • may travel locally to visit clients.

Entry requirements

To become a saw doctor you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate Wood Manufacturing – Saw Doctoring (Level 3) or a New Zealand Certificate in Saw Doctoring (Level 4).

The industry training organisation Competenz and training provider Toi Ohomai oversee saw doctor apprenticeships and training courses.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a saw doctor. However, construction and mechanical technologies, maths and physics are useful.

Personal requirements

Saw doctors need to be:

  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • patient and methodical
  • practical
  • safety-conscious.

Useful experience

Useful experience for saw doctors includes:

  • general engineering work
  • timber machining
  • work in a sawmill.

Physical requirements

Saw doctors need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) and good hand-eye co-ordination.

Find out more about training

0800 526 1800 - -
Toi Ohomai
0800 86 46 46 - -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Strong demand for qualified saw doctors

Demand for saw doctors is good due to increased demand for processed wood in New Zealand so more saw doctors are needed to maintain wood processing equipment.

There is also a shortage of qualified saw doctors in sawmills.

According to the Census, 270 saw doctors worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Most saw doctors employed in timber processing industry

Most saw doctors are employed by sawmills and timber processing plants. Others work for:

  • engineering companies
  • tool manufacturers
  • specialist saw and blade-sharpening companies.


  • Aung, Z, engineer and manager, D&S Sharpening Services, interview, November 2020.
  • Competenz website, accessed January 2021, (
  • Forest Owners Association, 'Facts and Figures 2019/20 New Zealand Plantation Forest Industry', (
  • Howieson, J, head saw doctor, Kaituna Sawmill, interview, January 2021.
  • Martin, S, chief executive, Checkmate Precision Cutting Tools Ltd, interview, November 2020.
  • New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, 'Wood Processing Prospectus', accessed January 2021, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Toi Ohomai website, accessed January 2021, (

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Saw doctors may progress to set up their own saw doctor business, or become a head saw doctor, overseeing a team of staff. They may also become sawmill supervisors or managers.

Gloved hands filing blunt chainsaw teeth

Saw doctors sharpen and repair hand, band and circular saws

Last updated 27 March 2024