Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Tools and Tool Maintenance/Restoration Advice for Lie Nielsen saw which cuts very badly

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    Thanks for all the comments! I am going to take lots of the advice given. But I decided to start with a call to Lie Nielsen. They were happy to talk to me and suggested I just send the saw to them! Thanks for that advice. My sawing seems to get better every day with my dovetail saw and hope the cross cut saw is not that much harder to use. Since the saw is not kinked, I expect the problem is with the set, or something else Lie Nielsen can correct for me. If not, well, more practice.

    I do plan this summer to learn to sharpen saws. I have just bought my first set of saw files, but figure I will start on something easier than this saw. Am I right to think that a rip cut hand saw is the easiest? I have several to practice on.

    Thanks again. Sanford

    Steve Brookes

    Yeah, rip cut is easier when you first start sharpening saws; once you get the hang of it a cross-cut is not too bad either. Paul has a couple of videos on saw sharpening; this one is a good starter:


    Though I will send the saw back to Lie Nielsen for them to look at (easy enough to do) I now have a set of saw sharpening files from Lee Valley and will start experimenting. Thanks everyone!

    Larry Geib

    While filing a rip saw is usually presented as an easier task, it really isn’t much different to file crosscut. I think for your first attempt you should just try following the rake and fleam of the saw you experiment with. If it’s a crosscut saw, don’t change it. Experiment with a saw that isn’t too far gone so you have some idea how to proceed. Reshaping teeth is a bit of an extra step. Also, don’t be too aggressive first time out. You can always make a second pass.

    And I’d highly recommend you read the literature available from Mark Harrell on the Bad Axe Tool Works website, especially the pdf’s on saw repair and filing. Mark is one of the premier boutique sawmakers and a good guy.

    Start here with an article he wrote for Fine Woodworking. :
    The saw doctor will see you now

    The most useful tip I found from him was to approach filing a tooth as if you are sharpening the back of the tooth leaning away from you rather than the front of a tooth, on the theory that the rear of the tooth is longer and gives better registration of the file. You are of course still sharpening the front. And if you have old eyes like mine, marking the teeth really helps.

    And while he shows using a face shield in the first picture of that article, he shows himself close to the saw in subsequent pictures without eye protection. Use some sort of eyewear. Metal in the eye is not fun. I use one of those desk lamps with a big magnifier.

    Good luck.


    Thanks Larry. The Mark Harrell articles seems very interesting, especially the stuff about clock sharpening.. I am on the verge of trying my first sharpening. Sanford

    David Perrott

    I liked the clock thing too. 1 o’clock for cross and 2 o’clock hybrid I think? I have a cross cut saw that needs touched up. I really Like Paul’s progressive rake thing for starting a saw. I think that works great. It is also helpful to get dykem layout fluid to mark the teeth so you don’t lose your spot.


    Out of curiosity, how did this all turn out?


    Hi Joe, well, I never did send the saw back to Lie Nielsen. Most of the problem turned out to be with my sawing technique and not the saw. At the time, I could not tell that my hand and arm were doing two things wrong as I sawed. First, my hand twisted just a bit so that the saw rotated in the cut and second, my arm swung in a bit of an arc rather than going straight. Neither of these had much effect on dovetails, but together they had a big effect when I tried to cross cut. The wider the piece I was crosscutting, the bigger the effect. They caused the saw to jam horribly. I am now able to detect both these motions and although they still occur to some extent (grrrrrr) I can usually stop them. I often have to warm up with my sawing before doing real work to get those two motions under control. As an aside I also learned to sharpen saws fairly well, though not great. I changed the way my Lie Nielsen cross cut and my Lie Nielsen dovetails saws are sharpened. I made both a good bit more aggressive though I put a progressive rack on the dovetail saw pretty much as Paul recommends. Neither saw is sharpened perfectly, but I like what I did better than how they came from the factory.

    Roberto Fischer

    I bought a veritas dovetail saw but it came with badly set teeth. Took me months to understand that was the issue and not my sawing technique.

    I bought an old disston 10″ back saw and totally redid the teeth to the same TPI as the veritas, and it cut so much better. One thing I haven’t seen Paul address is when a saw cut curves always the same way in spite of steering attempts. I watched some other saw sharpening and setting videos and they recommend doing some test cuts to ensure it is able to cut straight.

    My new old saw was doing great and the veritas was garbage. It curved a ton to the right every time and would bind. I gently filed a tiny amount from the side it was curving towards and now the saw is as amazing as it should always have been.

    Long story short, my advise is to draw some squared down lines and try to follow them. If you are curving the cut the same way every time and other saws don’t have the same problem, you saw is badly set.


    Thanks Roberto, But sadly, in my case it was technique. In fact, to this day I need to watch very carefully or my hand and arm fall back into their old bad habits. But you are right that sometimes what should be good saws come poorly sharpened from the factory. I think I have improved the cutting of my Lie Nielsen dovetail saw by resharpening it — it cuts much faster, more smoothly and tracks better. And I have a Veritas tenon saw which is wretched. It cuts so slowly it is just strange and not worth using. I will probably work on it one day soon. I bought a rather nice oldish Disston tenon saw and totally resharpened it. It took a lot of time and several touch ups but it now cuts very nicely! It is my go saw to cut tenons now, so I do not have much inclination to even work on the Veritas saw. Interesting that sometimes an amateur like me, without much sharpening experience, can do a decent enough job.

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