Backsaw teeth

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    Antonio Santos


    I’m on my way for my first sharpening of my saws: S&J handsaw, S&J backsaw and gent saw.
    I’ve also the correct saw files to use with the saws.
    These were all recommended by Paul.
    I noticed something strange in the back saw teeth: looking from above, it seems that one teeth is pointing to left, the next one to the middle, the next to the right, and so on.
    So, instead of having teeth pointing to the left and right alternated, I have the pattern left, middle, right.
    Is this normal?
    Do I need to set the teeth to the left and right pointing, using a sawset?


    Larry Geib

    S&J calls that their “universal pattern” , the idea being that you get the benefit of a crosscut and rip pattern. The unset tooth acts like a raker tooth.
    You sometimes see that with large toothed saws, but I’m not sure there is any real advantage With smaller teeth.
    It does save them from having to set 1/3 the teeth.

    Mike Zeller

    Funny enough, I was watching a video online last night of a Chinese master woodworker making a frame (bow) saw – the teeth on that blade were pretty fine and he set the teeth in exactly the same way. I’ve never seen that done before except on large saws used for cutting rough firewood. Larry has the correct answer as that third unset tooth acts as a raker to help extract the saw dust easier. I would think if you already like the way the saw cuts you could leave it that way when you go to set it. I could be completely off base here but it seems to reset all of the teeth alternating in the normal way would be considerable work. Maybe if you left the saw set as is for a few sharpenings the the teeth and set will wear down enough that they could then be set in the typical alternating pattern we all know? Good luck – it seems there is always something new we need to learn and why most of us love our woodworking as it keeps us coming back for more.

    Antonio Santos

    Well, that makes sense what you both said, thanks for the information.
    I already sharpened the teeth and I left the set as it is.
    It seems to be cutting well, but I don’t have that much experience to be able to say with such certainty.
    Let’s see how it behaves.


    I recall that those ‘universal’ pattern saws were offered as a hybrid saw variety in the UK.

    In the days before battery power tools, they were aimed at second-fix site-chippies who had to deal with cheaper and somewhat under-dried softwoods in door frames and skirting boards.

    Their main use, though, was in cutting all the synthetic fibre-boards, chip-boards and shuttering ply-wood. All this stuff had no discernible grain direction and tended to choke ordinary saws. Hence the third, intermediate raker-tooth, which was usually blind and not sharp to clear out the debris. Compared to conventional saws, they tend to cut slower or require more effort for similar progress.

    These days they seem to have given way to the disposable hard-points as far as I can see…… plus battery powered tools.

    If the teeth are not hardened and will accept filing, you have the option of converting it to a conventional pattern. All the info on how to re-cut teeth and re-filing techniques is in Paul Sellers files.
    It’s a good technique to pick up, because very often really good old saws teeth become work hardened with age, use and constant resetting and break off, which means a complete re-cut.

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