Refining Spear & Jackson Saws

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    Hi YrHenSaer,

    Thanks so much for your advice. I’m very new to this and have just purchased the two Spear and Jackson hand saws that Paull recommends in the Common Woodworking course (the 9500R 20 inch 10 ppi panel saw and the 9515K 24 inch 7 ppi rip saw). I’ve always had trouble sawing to the line and am looking forward to practicing (I’ve watched Paul’s videos multiple times). In your opinion, do the Spear and Jackson hand saws arrive sharp enough to use right away, or do they need to be sharpened and set before use? I’ve never sharpened a saw before. I’ve watched Paul’s videos but don’t want to make the saws unusable before I even get to use them!


    I’m not familiar with those particular saws, other than what Paul Sellers has written. The original post referred to the poorly shaped handle section and there lots written about this.
    As far as the plate and its cutting effect is concerned, as it is a new saw, i would expect that the plate would have been stamped, shaped and a basic set applied in the manufacturing process. Even though it will cut, don’t expect it to be ‘right’ for your purposes. Most tools when new, even the very best, need a little fettling to adjust to a user’s satisfaction.
    Going forward, learning a little saw-doctoring is a very useful, if not essential skill to acquire – this will keep your saws in good usable order.
    Paul Sellers has plenty on the subject in free videos and there is plenty more on Y-T. However, be prepared to spot occasional contradictions and sort out the basics for your needs from what is offered.

    You will need files. My personal preference, given the quantity of poor quality files available are made by Bahco, but don’t let that stop you experimenting. Next you’ll need a saw-set. My absolute favourite is a Stanley 42x. but they haven’t made those since the last war – they are scarce and expensive. The eclipse type is what you’ll see most of. Even so, these need some attention to work properly – more on that at another time if needed.
    Finally you’ll need to get your ingenuity to work on a saw-vice to hold it. Again Paul has ideas and suggestions on this in his videos.

    Search ‘Bahco-saw files’ online and you should find details from various vendors of what’s available giving the length, face-width and stitch rate for the teeth.
    You’ll only need files to suit your saws, so don’t buy sets but work out which one that you need given the formula of needing twice the longer face of the tooth across the width. Files are expensive and wear out. You’ll need a handle, but you could make that yourself.

    Finally, with regard to your new saws, make a saw-vice to suit: mount the saws and (I’m assuming the they are rip-saws), starting at the toe lay the file in the gullet until it settles in place. MAKE A NOTE OF THE RAKE ANGLE! With the file dead level across and at right angles to the plate, give a short gentle stroke forward. Put the file in the next tooth and repeat an exact stroke of the same length and of the same pressure. The pressure should be as much as you’d stroke a cat….. gently, don’t force it. Light, single, one-way strokes, don’t rub it. Repeat all the way up in each tooth and try it.

    If the saw cuts without binding in the wood, then the set is OK.
    Good luck

    Andrew Sinclair

    The S&J handsaws are pretty darned sharp when new, in my view, and speaking for the specimen I received 18m ago. This is a great benefit of a new saw: gives you a benchmark for your own sharpenings (prioir to this I had 3 vintage disstons and the S&J opened my eyes to how sharp feels).

    My S&Js were overset. This was a massive issue with sawing to a line: because the kerf (i.e. gap left in the wood) is wider than the plate of the saw, the saw has “play” in the groove and tends to wander. Paul’s hammer-in-the-vice anvil trick sorted this for me with one pass of light tapping in each side. It took me a couple of months to do this, cos I didnt want to damage my new saw, but I would do it immediately now.

    Previous to reducing set this saw was for rough cutting to general dimensions only; now it’s an awesome crosscut panel saws – after a couple of light passes with a newly sharpened #4 on the end grain, my panels are ready for joinery!

    Luc Groenendijk

    Hello to all,

    I encountered the same problem as Paul when I wanted to use the saw screw set I bought. The screws are too short. I manage to find langer brass screws and had to buy a reasonable quantity. If anybody is looking for such a screw, I can supply 20 mm long square neck brass screws. We can come to an agreement about costs and shipping. You will still need the bolt of the original screw set (which had the too short screw). I know this increases the total costs, but at least you will have something that works.
    Complaining at the supplier was unsuccessful. According to them, the screws are a replacement set for Pax saws only and are not meant for use as we intens it, whether to restore a saw or to mount a new handle.

    Geoff Inwood

    I’ve just finished a full overhaul on my spear & jackson tenon saw. Decided a whole new handle was in order.

    Reducing the set in the teeth made a huge improvement to cut quality but now it’s comfortable in use as well.



    Andrew Sinclair

    Very nice shaping there Geoff!

    You might need a couple more bolts though?! 😉

    How did you get the rivets off?

    On my list of to dos.

    Cheers, Andy

    Geoff Inwood

    Ya.. I couldn’t find my stash of saw bolts when the photos were taken.

    I used an old flathead screwdriver and a mallet to pop the rivets, with the handle held down to the bench top with a hold fast.

    As I knew I would be replacing the handle I wasn’t to concerned with being able to salvage the original. If I was simply reshaping it I would have drilled them out.

    Here’s another glamour shot with all the hardware in place.



    I have refined the S&J cross cut panel saw’s handle by looking at Paul’s post and using a pencil to free hand draw the curves. It took an afternoon going slow and steady but it was relatively easy to do. I also sharpened it and converted it from cross cut to rip cut. That was fairly easy as well. Paul’s book on essential hand tools has an excellent section on how to sharpen saws (though the same info can be had in his blogs and YouTube posts). I left the handle on as well while doing it. For anyone who wants to do it and feel reluctant, just go for it. It’s not that difficult.


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