Saw Sharpening: Crosscut Setting

Crosscut Setting

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Paul shows how to apply set to a crosscut handsaw. He discusses how and why it differs from applying set to a ripcut saw before showing the ins and outs of how to accurately apply set to enable the saw to cut cleanly and accurately.


  1. Justin Spaeth on 19 December 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I was just looking for this! I just got my first cross cut Disston D8 off of ebay last week. Can’t wait to sharpen and set this for the first time. It needs a new handle and a couple of new screws. Is there a particular wood that feels and performs best for saw handles? I would like to make my own, but don’t know if what I have around the shop would cause any issues for me. I have red oak, cherry, butternut, white ash, and pine.



  2. Richard King on 19 December 2016 at 7:07 pm

    The one, most vexing, question you leave unanswered is, “How much set is enough?” and its corollary, “How much set is too much?”
    I guess that’s two questions, really!

  3. Thomas Angle on 19 December 2016 at 10:47 pm

    I have been meaning to ask. What happened to your head? If you do not mind me asking.

  4. John Devereux on 20 December 2016 at 1:34 am

    I gave you a saw setting tool just like this one at the Great Yorkshire Show. I bought two and kept one. So now you reward me with a beautiful video on how to use it. Many thanks,

  5. Luc Fournier on 23 December 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Hi, thanks for the video. You mentioned it briefly, but should a rip saw be set exactly the same way (with no consideration to the triangle point specific to crosscutting of course), or in a less agressive manner. My intuition tells me that for rip saws, especially dovetail ones with higher ppi, the “setting” should be far less agressive. I’m asking because I just got old tenon and a dovetail saw from a garage sale that need to be taking care of. Happy hollidays to all!

  6. Kenneth Pigg on 6 January 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Paul, should you sharpen before setting? If so, do you take the set out of the saw to sharpen it and then reset the teeth? And, as Richard asks, how much set should be used for a crosscut and rip saw?

    • Alan on 10 May 2017 at 2:06 am

      Re-setting is always the final stage.
      As I understand it, the usual sequence is;
      1) Reduce heavy set, using the two-hammer method
      2) File peaks level, if required
      3) Sharpen
      4) Set

      • Philip Adams on 12 May 2017 at 2:53 pm

        This can be the case if a saw is overset. If it has a sensible amount of set, you don’t need to remove it. You generally won’t need to set the teeth every time. If you have just set the saw, it is quite common to have to knock some of it off.

        If you are sharpening a saw that you have previously sharpened, normal process is to sharpen then try it to see what the set is like and go from there.

  7. António on 25 January 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Thank you WWMC team!

  8. Andre Breytenbach on 23 May 2017 at 8:56 am

    Firstly I want to thank you for the brilliant content you provide!

    I was given my first dovetail saw by a friend. Unfortunately the teeth has been punched and not ground into shape. So it has a bad ridge to one side of all the teeth while the other edge is rounded. I am happy with the 17 points, but the saw leaves a very rough kerf.
    What is the best way to clean up the teeth? I do not have a saw setting tool.

    Secondly it has a very ugly, oversized plastic handle that would look better on an 18inch file. Any hints on getting it off and replacing it with something more fitting?

    Thanks again.

    • Philip Adams on 25 May 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Hello Andre,
      You either have to keep sharpening until you get a satisfactory result, or file off the teeth and start again. It is hard to recommend which without handling the saw.

      As far as saw handles are concerned, the best I can do is point you in the direction of a few blogs Paul has written:

      Believe there is some good discussion on saw handles in the forums as well.
      All the best

  9. David Lindsay on 2 November 2017 at 8:30 pm

    as to the sequence . I always set before I sharpen

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