A good saw vise is crucial when you hand-sharpen a saw. Most of the saw vises we see on the antique market are lighter duty saw vises with built in clamps for temporarily clamping to a bench for sharpening in the field. We have used them for years. Unfortunately the bench clamp and pivot makes even the best of them sit too high on a bench and adds a little flex. Flex is a no-no when sharpening - it makes the saw teeth vibrate and shortens file life. Even the great old Disston no. 3Ds, the best of the portable vises isn’t super-solid, and on a lot of those the levers are worn out so that they don’t clamp tight enough.
You can make a wooden shop made saw vise pretty easily and they can be as simple or as complicated or as cumbersome or convenient as you wish. Saw-making companies used large, steel, shop made clamps for sharpening their big saws, those were never really commercially available.
The best of the antique saw vises that you do find were designed for mounting on a bench which makes them far more solid. Less vibration means faster sharpening and longer file life. One day we got our hands on a saw vise like that - a late 19th century Wentworth no. 2. It was a different world. The rotating clamping cam gives tons of pressure at the jaws, it sits lower on the bench, it’s easier on the back, you could work sitting down, and it was rock solid. It was our inspiration.
Our version of this style saw vise is a workhorse. It has a 14" machined steel jaw so that you can solidly clamp most backsaws without repositioning it during filing, and hold a handsaw with only one repositioning.
The jaws of a lot of old cast saw vises are marked up by files caused when someone was trying to clamp a saw low in the vise (for less vibration) but also add some slope to the gullets by tilting the file down. Our machined 1/4" thick steel jaws solve this problem and are at a 45 degree angle to the saw blade so that you have plenty of clearance to easily add in as much slope as you might like. This is a great opportunity to try out some of the early saw filing patterns which used angled gullets for enhanced performance. We are really pleased to say that our sharpening person here actually prefers it to the original antique.
Made in USA.
"The Gramercy saw vise turned my Wentworth into a bass boat anchor. The Gramercy has 14" jaws that grip the saw so tightly that the vise and saw seem as one entity. As a result, filing with it is quieter and smoother." - Chris Schwarz Woodworking Magazine Blog