Importance of a sawset

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    Gabriel Lopez

    Hello all,

    New to the world of hand tools and after looking at Paul’s essential hand tools, what is the importance of a sawset? When is it needed and how does one know it’s time to adjust the set on a saw. The first saw I purchased was a Veritas dovetail saw, so ready to go out of the box. But when would this kind of saw need to be reset? Is this tool mostly for restoring old saws or for changing between rip and crosscut?

    I should also note, I’m in the US. I see one from eclipse new and Stanley 42 models.


    Larry Geib

    You will know when it’s time to set the saw when it binds in the cut while sawing.
    The teeth are bent outward to provide that clearance.

    A saw set is nice, but not absolutely necessary. You can set the teeth with a nail set or punch on a scrap of softwood. Paul has a couple videos on doing that. Here is one:

    The trade off is you need a little skill to set the teeth evenly, but it’s not rocket surgery.


    Hi Gabriel. As Larry said, the saw set is to bend the teeth outward (alternating to the left and right) to make the kerf in the wood wider than the saw plate so the plate does not bind in the cut. You asked whether you only set the teeth on old saws that are being restored and when you change your saw from cross cut to rip cut. No, you also do it on new saws after several sharpenings. Your Veritas dovetail saw comes sharp and with the teeth set. But you will have to sharpen the saw at some point. That might be after weeks, months or years, depending on how much you use it — I do it every few months on saws I use a bunch. You do not want a dull saw. If the teeth on your saw need a lot of work, e.g., you are restoring an old saw or your screwed up trying to sharpen you new saw, you will probably have to joint the saw (leveling all the teeth with a file) as well as sharpening. Then you will have to reset the teeth. But if you are just doing more modest work on your saw, say a touch up to restore the teeth to full sharpness, you probably do not have to joint or set the teeth every time. In fact, you might only set the teeth after two or three sharpenings. As Larry says, if the saw begins to bind, you know you needed to set the teeth. But I do not usually wait till my saw binds. I set the teeth very three sharpenings. (Oops! Full disclosure. I have one saw that I forgot to set for about five sharpenings and yes, it binds. Guess I have to set the teeth now.)

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