Retoothed my first handsaw

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    I spent the last couple days working on retoothing a hand saw. I have developed a significant assortment of hand saws but all are crosscut in the 8- 12 tpi range. I wanted to have something to do some ripping. I choose the worst saw of the bunch and decided to have a go at it. The result was UGLY. I encountered almost every problem I have ever seem mentioned and then some. An optimist would say I now have a wealth of experience. Here is what I encountered.
    1. Blade was bellied 1/4 inch in 20 length.
    2. Fine tooth hacksaw blades I purchased for this job would hardly scratch the plate. Ended up going with courser blade but would only cut in one direction.
    3. Courser blades did not track as well and result was uneven pitch on teeth. Aiming for 6 tpi and got “variable pitch”.
    4. Cut gullets much to deep.
    5. Cutting and filing in one direction produced set in one direction. Used a set to even it out.
    6. Took forever, wore groves in hands. Because of cutting gullets too deep no doubt.
    I was prepared to chuck the thing in the trash and never mention it to anyone. Then I tried it. It rips through oak and cherry like butter. I recall Chris Schwarz mentioning that hand stitched rasps cut better because they are slightly random. I think this is the case here also. It is the best free ugly rip saw I have ever used. Thanks Paul.

    Matt McGrane

    That’s so funny that the saw cut so well after all the problems you mentioned. Congratulations on learning a bunch of stuff.

    I love being able to sharpen my own saws. I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be, but it gets the job done. I just sharpened my 26″ rip saw that has 5.5 tpi and it made a huge difference in how easily it cut.

    Regarding your #1 above, some saws are “breasted” where the tooth line is bellied. Not sure if yours was straight before filing and bellied after.

    For #4 above, I’m guessing you mean you cut the gullets with a hack saw too deep, rather than filing too deep. If you file the gullets too deep, you just get a poor tooth line and inconsistent distance between teeth.

    On #5, I’m very surprised that the sawing and filing caused any set. I wouldn’t think that was possible, unless you very brutal with the saw or it was catching. Hard to imagine how that could happen. Glad that it worked out, though.

    Templates can go a long way to showing you how deep to saw the gullets (if you’re going to saw them). Some sawmaker websites have filing templates that you can print out. Or you could use Sketchup and create one yourself.

    If you’ve never seen it, there is an incredibly great video on youtube by Andy Lovelock, called “Sharpening Western Saws”. He provides so much information and presents it exceptionally well. And he’s self-taught, too. Sounds like you will be self-taught too, if you get around to all those other saws. Have fun with them.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:


    I had almost all of the same problems aswell. I cut the gullets much too deep with the hacksaw so after I was done I used the big flat file all along to get to a point where it looked reasonable lol

    It is strange how such weird looking teeth can cut so well.

    I also had problems with my template. For some reason, not really sure why, I couldn’t get even spacing on my knife lines. Possibly because of the bevel of my knife but I’m not entirely sure on that. The template was in pine so I had to be really careful else the bits between the saw cuts would just break off. I was disc to using just two cuts on the template at one point.

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