Sunday, July 24, 2011

A New Saw. And Lots of First.

Well, I finally got this little panel saw done. I actually cut the saw plate out for this way back in September of last year. No sense rushing these things. This is the first panel saw that I've ever made and only the second saw overall. Consequently, it's also the first closed handled saw handle I've made and the first lambs tongue I've carved. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

The saw plate started off as a piece of .032" 1095 spring steel from McMaster-Carr. I made a cardboard pattern of the shape and size I wanted the plate to be (pretty much like the Kenyon saw in the Seaton chest) and transferred this to the spring steel. Then I cut the plate to size on the metal shear at my work and then snipped around the toe til it was close and then filed to final shape. Don't ask me what I was thinking when I filed in the nib. Not the traditional placement I know. I'll just call it my signature look.
I brought the plate home and hand filed the teeth in the plate at 10 TPI using a pattern that I made on Exel, printing that out and using that as a guide for the tooth spacing.
That's pretty much where I left things until about a week ago when I got a wild hair and decided it was time to finish this thing. I drew up a pattern for the handle from looking at pictures of the saws in the Seaton chest on-line and in the book "The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton". The handle is black walnut that I had in the shop. I used my sash saw, and a coping saw to rough it out and the shaping was done with gouges, chisels, and rasp and sanded smooth with sand paper. The lambs tongue was just shaped with a v-gouge and a chisel. Wasn't nearly as tough as I thought it would be.

For hardware, I just used 1/4-20 straight slot counter sunk brass screws and brass square nuts. The square nuts were mortised into the right side of the handle and filed and sanded flush before the handle was finished. To finish the handle, I started off with two coats of Watco danish oil. This just left the wood looking dull and blah so I went and bought some Formby's low gloss tongue oil finish. Three coats of this, sanding with steel wool in between and a steel wool scuff up after the final coat to take some of the shine off and I called it done. While one of these coats was drying, I removed the bluing that was on the spring steel using citric acid. This was the first time I'd used this method and I was impressed with how quickly it worked. Less than 2 minutes and all the bluing was lifted right off.
I have lots to learn when it comes to saw sharpening, but I sharpened and set the teeth the best I know how and she cuts pretty good. Here's some test cuts. Nice thin kerf with no binding and a fairly smooth cut.

Hopefully as I learn more about sharpening she'll just cut smoother with every touch up.
I'm really finding myself enjoying the tool making aspect of this craft. There's nothing quite like using a tool that you actually made yourself. Now maybe I can use this new saw to cross cut some oak to size for the skirt on my still unfinished tool chest.
Oh, and I just got in some O-1 tool steel with which I'm going to try my hand at making some 18th century style square sided firmer chisels. Hopefully I'll get a chance to start on these soon.


Noah said...

Nice saw! Inspires me to do my own.

How long is she & what did you use to cut the kerf in the handle that the plate seats in?

baconj said...

Thanks Noah! The saw plate is 18" long. I used my large tenon saw for cutting the kerf in the handle for the plate. It was almost the perfect size. Then I followed that up by running the actual saw plate with the teeth cut in but not set in that kerf.
You should give saw making a try! It's really fun and very gratifying.

Steve Branam said...

Very nice, Jamie! How is this stuff to work with using plain metal-working hand tools like hacksaws, files, hand shears, etc.? I'd love to try this, but don't have access to large metal shears. I could see hacking out a metal plate roughly, then using a file to clean up all the lines, just like a board and using a jointer to clean up the edges.

You might start a renaissance in handsaws here!

baconj said...

Hey Steve. I can't speak as to how the 1095 cuts with shears or a hack saw because of my access to the shear, but as for cutting the teeth in with files, it's really not bad at all. It IS time consuming, but this is because of the shear number of teeth you have to file. I did have to file the toe into it's rounded shape after getting close with the shear and that wasn't hard either, so I think you'd be fine doing it like you said.
They really are fun to make and just extremely gratifying when you use it to know you made it. What you started with and what you ended up with. And it's nice to be able to shape the handle to fit your hand exactly. I only wish I knew more about tooth geometry to know what custom filing patterns would benefit me. Someday.
I would definitely encourage you to give it a try. I've seen your work, you would have no problem making a saw from scratch. Careful though; not to sound cliche, but this tool making is truly addicting. I just got in some 3/16" x 1" O-1 tool steel that I'm going to try to make some 18th century style firmers with. I'm basing my design on the ones in the Seaton chest. Just have to find time to get to them. Plus I have lots more saws planned. I'd like to eventually work with just saws I've made. I'm really getting sucked into this tool making thing to the point where right now, I'm enjoying it more than making furniture.

lui said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lui said...


Just popped accross from springwood hand saws.

Sharpening and setting is the hardest part, If you make another, make a rip saw, much fewer teeth and much easier to sharpen.

A 10tpi cross cut is throwing yourself in at the deepend,but that many teeth will give you plenty of practice.

I only use rasps and files to shape my handles, then sand paper, the reasps are slower than chisels, but have more control, and less risk of screwing the handle up wiith a slip.

Keep up the good work.



baconj said...

Hey Lui. I've actually got a rip saw in the works now. The plate is cut to shape and I've started filing in the teeth. It'll be an 8 TPI rip. Something for ripping thinner woods. I just got some beech in and that's what the handle will be made of on this one.