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Saw Talk #16: Disston D8 - My first Crosscut Sharpening

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Blog entry by Brit posted 644 days ago 4987 reads 1 time favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner No.120 - Sharpened and Tested Part 16 of Saw Talk series Part 17: Two Disston D8s - A Quick Progress Report »

I managed to grab a few hours when it wasn’t raining and decided to sharpen Big Joe, the first of my crosscut backsaws. I got ¾ of the way through filing in new teeth and my file gave out. I’ve ordered some more files which should be here early next week, so I’ll return to Big Joe in a future post. I didn’t want to waste the day however, so I decided to sharpen a handsaw instead – a first for me.

Some months ago, I restored a couple of 26” Disston D8s. This one is 8PPI (points per inch) with a nice apple handle.

The D8 was a revolutionary saw when it was first released. Here are some of its features.

  • Skewed back (concave) – reduces the weight of the blade and improves the balance of the saw.
  • Taper ground plate (thinner at the back than at the toothline) – reduces the weight of the plate and the amount of set required. The plate is the same thickness along the toothline and at the handle end, but the thickness of the plate is gradually reduced from the teeth towards the back edge and from the handle towards the toe as shown below.

  • Breasted toothline (convex ‘crown’ along its length) – arguably mirrors the natural swing of the arm, keeping more teeth in contact with the wood.
  • Revolutionary ‘in the plate’ tote – instead of sitting behind the plate, the grip was brought forward. It was also the first saw handle to have the kerf cut with a circular saw blade. The top of the handle is solid wood and covers the top of the saw plate which adds strength.

So I clamped the saw in my saw vise and jointed the teeth taking care to follow the convexity of the toothline.

I decided to keep the saw at 8 PPI (7 TPI), but alter the tooth geometry from 15 degrees of rake to a more aggressive 12 degrees of rake with 20 degrees of fleam. Here goes my first attempt at filing a crosscut saw.
After jointing the saw to get my ‘shiners’, I re-shaped the teeth.

The following photo shows the teeth after shaping. Need2boat (Joe) has mentioned a couple of times on my previous posts in this series that I chose to learn to file the hard way by starting with backsaws instead of handsaws. He was SOOOOOOO right. I found shaping these teeth really easy, even without one of my templates stuck to the side of the plate.

Now it was time to add some set to the teeth prior to sharpening. I measured the thickness of the plate at the heel just under the teeth to be .041”.

I adjusted my saw set to give me .003” of set either side, which after sharpening and dressing the teeth will probably end up more like .0025”

Next I stuck a 20 degree fleam template to the top of my saw vise and went down the teeth from heel to toe sharpening every alternate tooth. I then sharpened the teeth in between from the other side of the bench. I was having so much fun that I totally forgot to take any photos of the sharpening process (sorry about that). I tried to take a close-up of the finished teeth, but the wife’s little camera distorts the image if you get too close. This is the best I could get I’m afraid. In my rush to beat the rain, I also neglected to brush off the wood fibers.

Anyhow, here’s the finished saw.

I only just got it sharpened before it started raining again, so no video of it in action for the moment. It cuts well though.

Sorry this episode was so brief. I was just glad to get a couple of hours in which to do something productive. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.



30 comments so far

View jjw5858's profile

jjw5858

1100 posts in 1104 days


#1 posted 644 days ago

Looks great Andy, glad there was a pause in the floods for some saw work lol. I recently watched SEASON 2 The Woodrights Shop and there is a wonderful episode with Roy breaking out all his saws. If you were interested I think you can purchase internet versions of the single episodes instead of the whole DVD. Here is a link…http://shopclass.popularwoodworking.com/c-54-all-woodwrights-shop-channel-videos.aspx?pagenum=3

The show was really fun and thought of you watching it.

Be well and stay dry!

Cheers,

Joe

-- "Make something you love tomorrow...and do it slowly" JLB

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

4967 posts in 1100 days


#2 posted 644 days ago

The handle of saw is beautiful. Eventhough, I really have no idea about what you are talking about, I still enjoy reading the posts and looking at the saws. Wish you were closer, so I could try to pry one of the finished ones away from you. The collection is amazing, or as you might say…it is hoss. : )

View barecycles's profile

barecycles

250 posts in 831 days


#3 posted 644 days ago

That’s absolutely stunning Andy. I’ve got 3 Disstons in various stages of “fixin’” and yours puts mine to shame. Love your “Saw Talk” series!

I just recently got one with a handle that’s been patched to death.

-- Sweeping up sawdust in Texas

View Don W's profile

Don W

13942 posts in 1070 days


#4 posted 644 days ago

cheeeze Andy, talk about making ‘em better than new. That’s gorgeous. I don’t have to worry about my files crapping out. They just sit on the bench.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a well tuned hand plane. - http://timetestedtools.wordpress.com (timetestedtools at hotmail dot c0m)

View Brit's profile

Brit

4924 posts in 1345 days


#5 posted 644 days ago

Joe – Thanks, I’ll check it out.

Shane – No shame in looking at the pictures. :o)

barecycles – You’ve got it bad my friend.

Don – I was smiling to myself today whilst sharpening that D8. I put off trying to sharpen saws for so long and kind of convinced myself it was really difficult. It isn’t. Once you’ve done a few, it’s no big deal really. It feels good to know I can maintain my own saws now and I’m really glad I stuck with it.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View terryR's profile

terryR

2578 posts in 811 days


#6 posted 644 days ago

Don said it…better than new…what a lovely saw! Andy, you continue to set the gold standard for restores!!! Most of yours end up as my desktop image until the next one…

Yeah…I was sorta wondering why you tried to learn sharpening on those itsy bitsy teeth on the backsaws…wow…I can see these 7 ppi without my glasses on! That’s where I plan to start my lessons…AFTER the fencing…have completed over 4100 feet and the end is in sight, hoss!

Andy, have you already started a rusty collection of sweet handplanes to restore and amaze us this coming fall when the saws run out? :-)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View SamuelP's profile

SamuelP

720 posts in 1148 days


#7 posted 644 days ago

Andy – I have looked abit in your blogs and I did not run across what type of files you use.

What do you use?

-- -Sam - West Virginia - "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View chrisstef's profile (online now)

chrisstef

9369 posts in 1508 days


#8 posted 644 days ago

Lookin pretty hoss there andy!

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Don W's profile

Don W

13942 posts in 1070 days


#9 posted 644 days ago

I was smiling to myself today whilst sharpening that D8.

I was doing the same as I was rubbing the oil into the checkered tote. Sometimes its nice to just stop and smell the shavings!

-- There is nothing like the sound of a well tuned hand plane. - http://timetestedtools.wordpress.com (timetestedtools at hotmail dot c0m)

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6693 posts in 1654 days


#10 posted 644 days ago

I have only sharpened one saw, it was a hand saw, and even though it was challenging, I was thinking why do Andy’s saw sharpening blogs seem so complicated, was I missing something, did I not sharpen it right? , why does Paul Sellers make it seem so simple(10 min), what is fleam, but now it makes sense, I haven’t sharpened any backsaws yet. ;-)

This saw is spectacular, I hope to be as skilled as you at restoring saws someday Andy, Great job. Better than new for sure.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6693 posts in 1654 days


#11 posted 644 days ago

Joe, I just watched the preview of the Woodright Shops episode on Saw’s, looks pretty interesting, I may have to buy that episode.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6693 posts in 1654 days


#12 posted 644 days ago

Is there a woodright shop episode on large wooden screws? I saw a clip on the 20th anniversary episode that suggested there might be, I wonder what season.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View llwynog's profile

llwynog

274 posts in 1081 days


#13 posted 644 days ago

Wow, the saw looks clean and new as er… something very clean and new (not good with comparisons today).

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

View Brit's profile

Brit

4924 posts in 1345 days


#14 posted 644 days ago

Terrry – It was a treat to actually be able to see the shape of the teeth that I was filing for once. I think it was a happy coincidence that the file gave out and forced me to do a handsaw. I was thinking the crown on the toothline might be difficult to maintain too, so just to give myself a reference I laid the saw down on a piece of MDF before I started and ran a marker pen along the teeth. I did this just so I had a reference for how much crown there should be just in case I messed it up. At the end of filing the teeth though, I laid the saw on my template and I had maintained the crown perfectly.

Sam – The files I use are made by BAHCO. I buy them through Workshopheaven.com. You can buy them with or without the handles. At the moment I’m buying them with the handles and when the saw files wear out, I’m using the handles for some of my other files and rasps that I’ve been using without handles for ages. Eventually, I’ll buy them without handles which is obviously more economical.

Chrisstef – Thanks.

Don – Amen to that.

Mauricio – Much has been written about sharpening saws and it is easy to find out which files to use for which saws, learn about rake, fleam and slope etc., but I think knowing the theory of sharpening saws is just a starting point. Particularly when filing backsaws, it is more about listening, looking and feeling how the file is cutting and being able to develop the muscle memory to consistently produce repeatable results with the file. Also with backsaws, there is a stage of sharpening that most authors don’t write about and that is tuning the saw after sharpening. Things like looking at the surface finish of the cut, ensuring the toothline is perfectly straight, having consistent set etc. On a backsaw, these things are critical for a sweet-cutting saw. I think there is a lot of skill in knowing, a) if a saw is cutting well and b) where the problem lies if it isn’t.

Paul is a very experienced sharpener. He’s been doing it for years and makes it look easy. If all you need to do is touch up a saw to bring it back to sharp though, then it is easy and quick. On the other hand, if you want to retooth a saw to another TPI, then that takes a lot more time and there is more scope for error.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View Brit's profile

Brit

4924 posts in 1345 days


#15 posted 644 days ago

Thanks Fabrice.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

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