So now the stock is cut and dried, ready for the saw (or the bloody axe). First, however, come the square and ruler, the snapline and gauge. Spread out all the stock for the job and consider how to divide it in order to minimize both wasted wood and labor, as well as making the best matches in grain and color. Beauty and exceptional width should be reserved for a worthy setting, and unneeded segments should remain as lengthy as possible so they can be used later. Tapered and curved pieces should nest as closely as your saw will allow.

You'll find old books with advice on everything, including sawing. Professionals grew up in their trade, and few of them wrote books or learned from them, so many of the writers were talented amateurs. One such French writer from the late 1700s advised:

Few amateurs are not embarrassed to exactly follow a line and cut straight with a saw.

Fault one: Insufficient care in sharpening the saw.

Fault two: Cutting green or soft wood with saw blades whose teeth are fine and lightly set—and the reverse for hard, dry wood.

Fault three: The impatience of the user, who, trying to saw more quickly, presses too hard on the saw: this flexes the blade and makes it run to the right or to the left.

This gent wrote woodworking books at night under the pseudonym Bergeron. His day job was serving as the public prosecutor for the city of Paris during the French Revolution, so we'd better listen to him: "To saw well, then, choose the right saw for the wood that you are cutting and the work you want to make. Work perpendicularly and parallel to the line, and, from time to time, lubricate the blade with bacon or tallow."

The right saw depends on the direction of the grain. Across the grain, you use a crosscut panel saw sharpened with knifelike teeth. Down the grain, you use a ripsaw with chisel-like teeth. Cutting diagonally, "a rip saw cuts faster, but a crosscut, smoother."

From a distance, hand ripsaws look the same as crosscuts, but rips run larger in the blade and coarser in the teeth. Sometimes you'll see a number stamped on the inside heel of the saw indicating its coarseness in points to the inch. Points are literally points and not entire teeth, so there is always one less tooth than points in the measure. Ripsaws range from four to seven points and crosscuts from six to twelve.

More teeth make slower but cleaner going, and some saws are cut with more teeth at the toe end of the blade to make starting the cut easier. Assuming you are right-handed, hold your left hand around the end of the wood and place your left thumb against the toe of the blade of the saw to hold it steady. Draw the blade lightly back and forth and the cut will begin.

Once the cut is started, work with a crosscut saw inclined at 45 degrees to the surface and a ripsaw at 60 degrees. Depending on what you're out to accomplish, you may want to saw right on the line, saw down the side of the line, or split the line with the edge of the kerf. Since we're roughing in the stock, this is beside-the-line-with-a-little-clearance-on-the-waste-side sawing.

Should the saw veer away from your line, lower the angle of the saw to the work surface and bend it slightly along its length to move the kerf in the right direction. When ripping or crosscutting thick stock, first saw diagonally into the corner and then bring the saw around square to finish the cut. When ripping, turn the piece over from time to time and saw from the other side. In critical work, turn the piece more frequently. As a cabinetmaker friend put it, "Saw only the lines that you can see."

Because any long curved piece will be aligned down the grain for strength, saws for curves generally have rip teeth. Curved kerfs also call for narrow blades. A compass saw is a narrow and stiff handsaw, good for cutting gentle curves like tabletops. Tighter turns need an even narrower blade. Turning saws can cut tight curves in relatively thick planks of wood. As with a coping saw, the knobs can turn the blade at angles to the frame, allowing it to pass beside the work as you cut.

While the bow saw uses the twisted cord to tighten the blade, a frame saw uses the blade itself to hold the works together. By stretching the blade between the ends of a wooden rectangle, you can tighten it with wedges or a wing nut arrangement. Since the blade is in the middle rather than on the side of the rectangle, this saw works well for ripping timbers, the frame passing on either side of the wood.

The most common frame saw is the wheelwright's felly saw, used to cut the arcing segments of the rim of the wheel. Wheelwrights generally work with the wood held vertically, as do veneer sawyers, but old images of joiners ripping regular stock show the wood horizontal, the vertically held saw benefiting from gravity on the down stroke.

The turning saw can cut the tight curves for the legs of a pedestal candlestand.
The frame saw does better in heavier stock.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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