Old and New Saws Compared – which would you prefer?

Here are 2 Great American saws. They are both 36 inches long. One is shiny and new out of the box. The other is second-hand and sharpened by me.

Brand-new Saw
Brand-new Saw
Refurbished saw
Refurbished saw


To cut a disc from this log the two videos show elapsed times of 3 minutes with new saw and under 2 minutes with old saw.

New saw: 3 minutes exactly


Old Saw: 1 minute 50 seconds

The new saw took more than one minute longer.

If you do watch the video, you’ll hear how out of breath I am with the new saw.

Sawing need not be this hard. It is surprisingly easy to fettle most saws to run sweetly given the right tools and instruction. Alternatively I can sharpen yours but do please send pictures first to gavin@shedtherapy.com

Sawfest, Sheffield July 27-29, 2018

Because I want hand-saws in wider use and your sawing to be easy, happy and relaxed I organise Sawfest in Sheffield, England from Fri 27 July to Sun 29 July. Bring ANY rusty, bent and blunt saws and go home with saw-knowledge ready to use – and with usable saws. If you are interested and will spend £80 to attend, I suggest you “Buy Tickets” at top right  because I limit this to just 25 people.

BTW: Sawfest is for ALL human-powered saws: small , medium and monster-long.

Pitsawing with Barbara


Here is Barbara Czoch as underdog at Chiltern Open Air museum.  We won’t dig  a  sawpit at Sawfest, so Barbara  brings trestles.

Here is Barbara at pitsawing day run at Shedtherapy HQ in 2012.

Fabricate ripsaw blade
Fabricate ripsaw blade
Frame saw
Frame saw
Frame saw
Frame saw
Frame saw
Frame saw

Saw Arcs

What radius is that saw?

There’s no point getting a saw sharp and straight if you cannot protect its edge. I experiment with plywood scabbards ( see video below) and will have some at Sawfest Sheffield July 27 to 29, 2018 to try.

My initial guess of 18 feet radius was too big. Most saws did not nest well in those scabbards.

I tried calculating the arc, but the results were variable.  Simpler by far was to get a surveyor’s reel-tape and chalk.

Here’s how I did it…

Saw vises too should conform to the most common arc.  For my current collection of saws, that is radius 14 feet.

Saws laid out on their different arcs

Here you’ll see  a gap of 20 mm arises from a 3 foot difference in radius…

Here is my prototype scabbard at 18 foot radius…

Taper Grinding at Sawfest

Brian Alcock grinding cross cut saw plate

I visited a grinder in Sheffield to explore taper grinding of long saws. Below you’ll see him freehanding an  unsupported junker blade over the stone.

Whilst his stone is smaller diameter than those shown in old drawings it did work quickly.  It sure works as a way to clean up old saws of rust and test out your taper-ideas.  Old saws are cheap and plentiful – what’s not to like about giving  some to Brian to have a go with?  We will visit his workshop Friday 27 July.

If we were to fix the blade to a ‘scorching board’ it will be more controllable.  I am back to visit him again next week and I will take saws fixed to such ‘scorching board’ planks.

To book your place at Sawfest Sheffield – and there are only 25 left at time of writing – go here.

Fly press

fly press punch & die

Here is picture of a fly-press. Spinning the balls screws down a punch through the sawplate  into a die ,  notching out a tooth.


We will have Lui Rocca’s fly press at Sawfest in Sheffield July 27 to 29 , 2018.   So if you fancy punching out teeth in a plate contact me and we’ll make it happen. All we need is suitable steel and I do think we can get some in Sheffield.  Or bring an old saw and we’ll have it toothed up far quicker than filing  it from scratch and with far less expense in wearing out your  files. Lui tells me he has a way of making progressive pitch happen.  I look forward to seeing this!

Spiders: limping over your saws!

DIY home made saw setting spiders

Spiders allow you to set your saw-teeth quickly and precisely. With one leg shorter than the others, the spider ‘limps’ along the tooth tips. The shortness of the leg measures the set of the tooth. I prefer the spider and not some dial gauge because I can hear when a spider works.

My knowledge is only about long saws. I imagine the spider will work fine for small saws too and I have not tried this.

Here  is how I use them. (There will be other ways too – if you come to sawfest, I’d love to see yours  and what  length of saw you use it on e.g. some folks set teeth with the saw vertical, and others with saw on an anvil. )

Here is how I calibrate with a feeler gauge to check the shortness of one leg…

Here is how I shorten one leg if the calibration needs changing. If you drop it, or have just taken delivery, you may need to adjust it.

And if you have read this far, Dolly Chapman labelling convention  will interest you. Each file notch indicates 5 thou of an inch. This prevents confusion and use of the wrong size spider.

You can make them fairly easily. Here is a selection ( some home-made) from the sawcourse taught by Dolly Chapman at shedtherapy.com course in May 2017.

DIY home made saw setting spiders
DIY home made saw setting spiders

If you don’t want to make your own, go to my shedtherapy website to buy a ready-made spider.

Saw Smithing – a beginners guide

Nadine Fox-Grundy asked me “What is saw smithing?” Saw smithing is hammering a saw plate to get it straight and also stiff.  I found it hard to understand why hammering the middle of a saw plate could make that saw stiff, and why that matters.  I am delighted to have met Bully of Atkinson Walker who will lead the smithing classes in Sheffield on July 27th 2018 at 9:00 or 10:30.  After my sessions with Bully I now understand the theory about straightening any saw with a twist or a curve.

In 3 words: hit the hump.  Find where any curve or twist is and set that curve uppermost on your anvil. Then whack it.

Reading my comments won’t help much nearly as much as having a go with ANY hammer you happen to have on some scrap sheet metal or an old junker saw.

Wonderfully, Bully demonstrated that just looking along the saw against a dark background is enough to show where the lumps are.