A Gramercy Bow Saw Kit provides the parts and plans necessary to build one of the most useful tools in the hand-tool workshop. The tensioned, lightweight frame of the saw supports a narrow blade able to cut tight turns with precision. The control afforded by a 12" bow saw makes it an excellent choice for wasting dovetails, or for sculptural work like roughing a cabriole leg.
Building a bow saw isn't difficult with the right hardware. The parts offered here are the same ones found on our award-winning Gramercy Tools 12" Bow Saw. Full measured drawings of the saw are free, and available for download even without the purchase of a kit. Additionally, we've published a great deal of our research into the design of tensioned frame, and turning saws, to aid in constructing your own customized saw.
The Gramercy Bow Saw Kit (literally) revolves around the precision machined brass pins that connect the frame to the handle. The hook of the pin allows blades to be switched, or threaded through a workpiece with minimal hassle. In addition to the hook, the blades have a 1/16" hole for mounting drilled blades. The blade slot of the pin is .030" wide, to accept a wide range of blades, including our own 12" bow saw blades, or coping saw blades. If you wish to use a thicker blade, grind the ends of the blade to fit.
The 1/4" shaft of the brass pins fits through the frame of the saw, allowing the blade to be turned a full 360 degrees. The tension of the frame and blade are supported by the 1/2" diameter shoulder of the pin. Behind the shoulder the pin is machined with grooves and a flat that create an interference fit when the handle is glued in place. Overall the pins are about 2 3/4" of which the front part of the shaft with the hook is 1 7/8" long, with a shaft Diameter of 1/4" and a shoulder diameter of 1/2".
We offer several kit options, from individual blades up to the full kit including Pins, Handles, and blades. Kits with blades include 10TPI, 16TPI, and 24TPI blades. To tension the frame you'll need a strong, lightweight cord or string. Our bow saw line is the same stuff we use on our complete saws, available in a range of colors for a final customized touch.
Plans, Design Documents, and General Instructions can be found here here
Replacement Blades are available separately - see the accessories and related link below. Likewise for the complete Gramercy Tools Bowsaw
Gramercy Bow Saw Pins, Handles and Blades are Made in the USA.
The following primer is condensed from our more extensive documentation on the design of Bow saws which can be read in its entirety here. Follow the same link, and click "Construction notes, plans, and tips on use" to download measured drawings of our design for the Gramercy Bow Saw.
Any saw with a blade tensioned in a frame is generally referred to as a frame saw. To this day, European woodworkers use frame saws of around two feet long, with wide blades to do all their main cutting of boards. In the English and American traditions (after 1700 or so) woodworkers used handsaws for those tasks, and a narrow-tensioned blade in a frame saw only for cutting curves. These smaller saws are typically called either bow saws or turning saws.
The frame of a turning saw consists of a pair of mortised cheeks held apart by a tenoned cross-member called the stretcher. The hardware, or pins, hold the blade in the cheeks and also provide a mount for the handles. Finally, the tension on the blade is kept by a twisted cord, a Spanish windlass type of traction device kept from unwinding by the all-important toggle.
Early turning saws had very thin, almost spidery frames. The reason for this, of course, is that the weight of the frame will influence the cut. When you turn the saw in the cut, you want the entire saw frame to move, so that the blade stays straight in the frame. A beefy frame will cause the saw to feel top-heavy in use.
This brings us to the question of the wood. A turning saw can be made from almost any wood that can take a little tension, and we have seen saws made from Maple, Cherry, Walnut, and even a few exotics like cocobolo. However a lighter-weight wood is preferable because of the nimbleness factor outlined above. Our completed Gramercy Tools Bow Saws are made of American Hickory, because it is strong, flexible, and lightweight.
The design of the Gramercy Bow Saw captures what we believe to be the best aspects of 18th and early 19th century turning saws. It is a light weight and nimble tool, and represents what we would consider the optimum for a general purpose turning saw. Historically every trade used slightly different versions of the saw to meet their own specifications. We think you can have a lot of fun playing with the design and making a frame that suits your needs.