Sharpening Saws

C aw sharpening is always done in three •¿sequential stages: jointing, fitting and setting.

I Jointing ensures that the teeth are the same height. Sandwich the saw between two pieces of wood held in the vise, then use a flat file to cut all the teeth down to the same level. The // jointing procedure usually takes no more than a few strokes of the file.

Jointing the ripsaw.

2 Kitting makes sure that all teeth are at the correct angle. Use a triangular-section, 60-dcgrce file to cut the leading edge of each tooth to the correct angle. The angle that the file is held in its approach to the saw blade varies according to the type of saw being sharpened. Ripsaw teeth arc filed at an approach angle of 90 degrees, meaning the file is held at right angles to the saw blade. Crosscut teeth are tiled at an approach angle of about 45 degrees. Alternate teeth are worked from one side of the blade, and then the whole procedure is rerun from the other side. With crosscut saws, the leading edge of each tooth is canted back by about 12 degrees.


Many woodworkers advocate a mix of hand saws and power saws. So for example, they might use a bandsaw to rough-out a piece, an electric scroll saw to cut out the primary form, and then they follow with the hand tools. This way of working is a good idea -even if you arc a woodworking traditionalist - because the power tocls allow you to spend more time on the quality-time tasks.

right: Saw-tooth setter - a foolproof tool for setting the teeth.

right: Saw-tooth setter - a foolproof tool for setting the teeth.

^ Setting adjusts the teeth for proper cutting clearance. Use a plier-likc tool called a "saw set" to splay the teeth. The jaws of the set are opened, the tool is loeated on the tooth, and then the handles are clenched to bend the tooth over at an angle. The teeth need to be set alternately left and right down the length of the blade. The mgle of set determines the width of the kerf and amount of cutting clearance. Use a generous set for cutting greenwood and a small set for cutting well-seasoned hardwood.


brass fixing strews

Walnut handle

Nickel chrome steel Wide

above: A classic ripsaw brass fixing strews

Walnut handle above: A classic ripsaw

Nickel chrome steel Wide

A ripsaw is designed to efficiently cut wood along its length. If you need to cut wood in the direction of the grain, then look for a ripsaw that has the following features: teeth that arc filed at right angles across the saw blade, a well-detailed good-to-hold wooden handle, a good number of shoulder bolts that fix the handle to the blade, and a ground, tapered blade that is straight and flexible. Although the size of the saw is a matter of personal choice, here's a good general guide: about 26 inches long with 5 tooth points to the inch for cabinet work and 4 points to the inch for carpentry - when you might expect the wood to be damp.

above: Using the ripsaw -side view of correct stance.

It is important when using the ripsaw

Starting the Cut above: Using the ripsaw front view of correct stancc.

It is important when using the ripsaw to support the workpiece at a comfortable height. In most instances, you need to have the board supported on a pair of saw-horses, at a height that prevents the toe of the blade from touching the ground. Set the work at an angle and height that lets \ou look directly down on the line to be cut while at the same time enabling you to get vour shoulder behind the thrust.

above: Using the ripsaw front view of correct stancc.

When you arc ready to start the cut, position the saw blade well to the waste side of the drawn line, hold the blade at a low angle and point your index finger along the blade. Make a few initial dragging strokes to get the cut established, and then proceed to make increasingly larger strokes until you arc using the full length of the blade. Once the cut is underway, support the board with your knee and continue at a steady pace. If you arc doing it right, the saw should be more or less at 45 degrees to the wood being cut, and you should finish up with a width of wood that has a small amount of wood to the waste-side of the drawn line.

Starting the Cut

above: A better quality saw is characterized by the good number of bolts securing the handle to the blade above: Using the ripsaw -side view of correct stance.

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