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Handsaw Sharpening & Traditional Tools with Mike Hagemyer

  Additional Notes on Tools and Traditional Crosscut Saw Sharpening by Mike Hagemyer 1 of 3  

I have presented several saw restoration projects thus far with the purpose of passing on some of the knowledge and skills required to take charge of your hand saws.

My intent is to share methods that I know work for me. It is easy to say, hey look what I did, but not quite so easy to describe to others exactly how you did it.

This is especially true with subjects that can have infinite variations like saw tooth geometry and sharpening methods. Sawing is a very old technology and has been addressed by countless individuals over time. Before the days of rapid communication, word of mouth was all we had. Today there is no reason not to share.

The image shown here is the second most important tool in my saw sharpening arsenal.

The first I consider to be knowledge, specifically the knowledge I have already shared in my previous articles published on wkfinetools.com; with UNDERSTANDING HANDSAW GEOMETRY AND TERMS being of highest importance.

If you have digested this and can take a simple block of wood and shape it like this image you will be armed for success with sharpening traditional crosscut saws. Again I am not trying to say this is the only way, just that it is the only way that works for me.

I have tried a lot of different guides including the old Disston one and found them to be cumbersome and slow at best. Rather than down play other systems I would rather explain why this works for me.

  • First of all this guide sets up the three important angles that I want to work to. Fleam is the angle at the end of the block and also the angle the top notch is cut out at.

  • Slope is the second angle of the top notch. In position it slants down toward you.

  • The third important angle is file rotation. I cut the top notch so it represents “0” degrees. In other words it is parallel to the tooth line. To hold a rake angle of 15 degrees I reference the top of the file to the cutout notch. You could, I suppose, also use a devise mounted to the end of the file for this in addition to the guide but again I find that cumbersome.

This tool is strictly a site guide. I do not let the file ride up against it but rather slide it along in front of the file. I do not tilt the vise to get the slope angle because it forces me out of position to both see and stroke the file. I keep the work and my body position such that I can see what I am doing and naturally stroke the file with control.

Here is another view working the opposite side of the saw.

The top of the file is referenced to the slope notch of the guide. In one case the top of the file is parallel to the slope notch 15 x 30 x 30. In the picture above, what would the file rotation be if the saw spec was to be 15 x 20 x 20 and in which direction? If you can’t answer that question, simply go back to the previous post and look it up.

Filing a saw is matter of having a plan for what you’re doing and sticking to it. The guide being moved along in front of the work zone helps keep the plan in mind as you work. At least it does for me. If you would like to give this a try, here is how to make the guide.

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