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 Joel's Blog

Saw Filing - Poorly  


I remember when I filed my first saw. I was making my portable workbench in preparation for a woodworking show in 2002. I milled all the wood by hand, and then cut it all by hand. It was the biggest all-hand tools project I had ever done. At some point I noticed my saws were really really dull, so I had to sharpen them. I had a rather flimsy saw vice (since then I have upgraded several times) and a copy of Tom Law's video - now on DVD. I got the files from work, and I went at it.
I did a really crappy job - uneven teeth and everything - but the saws still cut better than they had ever had.
Flash forward to now. Until we are fully up to speed, a few of the lads and I take turns setting and sharpening our dovetail saws, doing a few at a time. It's a 19ppi saw and I can barely see the teeth. I can hammer set a saw in 8 minutes - I'll get faster with practice - and filing a new saw is pretty fast and easy.
I get asked all the time about saw sharpening services. Basically there aren't any in New York City for handsaws, so I always recommend getting a file and trying one's hand. It's tedious, but really satisfying to spend 20 minutes sharpening and then trying out the saw. Just a word of advice: when you first start out sharpening, don't look too closely at the teeth until AFTER you try sawing with the saw. Oh, and don't practice on a really fine, favorite backsaw first.
PS - The saw in the picture is the first saw I ever bought years ago. It's in my toolbox and with the move I have set up shop again and needed to touch up the saw.

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