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Blog series by Brit updated 11-24-2013 11:14 AM 30 parts 174910 reads 1007 comments total

Part 1: And then there were two.

01-11-2012 12:13 AM by Brit | 21 comments »

I decided to dedicate my time this winter to restoring various saws I’ve acquired over the past year. I’ll be restoring half-rip saws, panel saws, tenon saws, carcass saws and dovetail saws from a variety of makers, dating from the 1840s up to the 1960s. Now don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with repetitive photos of me removing rust, shining saw plates, polishing brass and refinishing totes. I covered the process I use for these steps in my blog The Restoration of a 14” Tenon Saw so you ...

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Part 2: Disston No.5 Identification & Restoration

01-18-2012 09:16 PM by Brit | 30 comments »

After spending quite a bit of time researching the history of my W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner saws, I was looking forward to finding out about this Disston backsaw from across the pond. After all, we have the wonderfully detailed Disstonian Institute web site at our disposal. Yep, finding out about this backsaw was going to be easy, or so I thought. When I started my research, I obviously knew it was a Disston backsaw, but I had no idea what model. This is how the saw looked when it came i...

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Part 3: Spear & Jackson 8" Dovetail Saw Restoration

01-23-2012 02:39 AM by Brit | 23 comments »

Just a quick post to share a lovely little gem that I’ve just finished restoring. This is an 8” dovetail saw, filed 15 TPI rip, made by Spear and Jackson sometime between 1915 and 1925 I think. There’s some minor pitting on both sides of the plate, but nothing that will affect the saw in use. It has a nice thin plate which is just what’s needed in a dovetail saw and a 2” depth of cut. The handle is English beech and very comfortable in the hand. It ...

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Part 4: 12" Spear & Jackson Carcass Saw Restoration

02-03-2012 08:14 PM by Brit | 25 comments »

As chosen by you, the next back saw is a 12” carcass saw also by Spear & Jackson with the leap frog trade mark. I bought this saw, not because I really needed another 12” carcass saw, but because it features an extra heavy brass back. I wanted to see and feel how this feature influences the cutting action of a backsaw. The blade is filed 10 TPI crosscut and canted by 1/8”. That means that the distance from the toothline to the underside of the brass back is less at the toe t...

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Part 5: Shaping a Lamb's Tongue and more

02-12-2012 05:59 PM by Brit | 41 comments »

Next up on my epic backsaw journey is a much younger saw (60s, 70s? – not sure exactly). It’s a W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner filed 10 TPI crosscut and sports an extra heavy brass back. I bought this saw because it was cheap and there was nothing wrong with the saw plate. Gone is the subtle stamp that appeared on the brass back of a 19th century Tyzack saw. Instead, this spine has a rather garish impression. The crisp elephant logo now looks like a partially thawed out woolly mam...

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Part 6: Cowell and Chapman 14" Backsaw Restoration

02-26-2012 01:01 PM by Brit | 41 comments »

2012 is a big year for Britain. Not only are we hosting the Olympics, but we’re also celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. It’s Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee. Even my wife is organizing a street party for around 200 residents and I’ve been roped into building all kinds of weird and wonderful things for the day. Yes folks, marquees will be erected, brass bands will strike up, flags will be waved and I’m sure we’ll all feel very patriotic by the end o...

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Part 7: Drabble and Sanderson 14" Backsaw Restoration

03-07-2012 01:08 PM by Brit | 30 comments »

Friday March 11th 1864 was a day much like any other day for Thomas Wilkinson. He and his partner Robert Howden had been working hard at the Ebenezer Steel Works in Sheffield, where they traded under the name of Drabble and Sanderson. They’d built up quite a reputation for their files and edge tools and in particular their saws, such as this 14” 12TPI backsaw, filed rip. Thomas locked up for the night and prepared himself for the short walk to his lodgings at a hou...

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Part 8: File Holder for Jointing Saws and Scrapers

03-10-2012 11:30 AM by Brit | 55 comments »

Before I can sharpen my backsaws, I need to make two things: a file holder for jointing the teeth and a saw vise. I was going to post both of these items together, but I think the file holder deserves its own post. A file holder is also useful for jointing hand scrapers. Some people don’t bother with a file holder and just hold the file with their hands, but it’s easier to keep the file perpendicular to the teeth using a holder with a fence that rides against the side of the plate. I’ve seen ...

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Part 9: Making a Saw Vise

03-18-2012 05:16 PM by Brit | 49 comments »

When I did my research, I found a number of good saw vise designs on the web. Some were simple, whilst others were more complex. The fundamental requirement of a saw vise is that it clamps a saw securely while you sharpen it, everything else is just icing. So it can be as simple as sandwiching the saw plate between two pieces of wood in a vise on your bench. Last December, I had the privilege of attending a saw sharpening class with Paul Sellers at Penrhyn Castle in North Wales. At the beginn...

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Part 10: Hand Shaping and Sharpening the Teeth on a Backsaw

03-23-2012 01:44 AM by Brit | 62 comments »

You know I said at the end of my last post that I’d post a picture of each saw and tell you how I was going to sharpen them and why? Well I lied. :-) The temptation of my restored backsaws, a saw vise and a bundle of saw files was just too much. I had to sharpen a saw, but which one? I thought about it for a while and settled on the little Spear & Jackson 8” Dovetail saw. Remember this one? I chose it for two reasons: For a dovetail saw, the depth of cut is quite big at 50mm. ...

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Part 11: More Thoughts on Sharpening Backsaws

04-05-2012 11:48 PM by Brit | 56 comments »

I’ve been hesitating to post this entry on my Saw Talk blog series, basically because I don’t feel I’ve sharpened enough saws yet to make any recommendations to others. Instead, I thought I would take the opportunity to point you to some websites that I have found helpful. I have read most of the information available on the web on this subject and the links below are what I consider to be the best information for those new to sharpening. If you are serious about finding out about this subjec...

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Part 12: You win some, you lose some

06-17-2012 09:37 AM by Brit | 29 comments »

So I thought I’d have a go at sharpening the 14 inch Cowell & Chapman backsaw (which is really a W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner). I’m going to file it 10.5 TPI rip with 9 degrees of rake and 5 degrees of fleam. I was going to add 5 degrees of slope as well, but I figure at this point I should just concentrate on filing the fleam correctly without complicating things further. Remember this one? This saw has an extra-heavy brass back and therefore there is a considerable am...

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Part 13: Intrepid Sawster Triumphs over Adversity

06-18-2012 11:35 PM by Brit | 34 comments »

In part 12 we left our intrepid sawster (Is that a word? It is now.) feeling very sorry for himself. If you haven’t read part 12, you should read that first as this is a continuation of that post. Anyhow, you can’t keep a hand tool junkie down and suitably chastised by the saw gods, I picked myself up and worked the problem. I found out that I’d mistakenly thought the problem was what is known as ‘Cows and Calves’. However that is when the bottom of the gullet...

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Part 14: Disston No.5 - Sharpened and tested

06-23-2012 06:38 PM by Brit | 26 comments »

Have you ever thought about why some saw makers add negative rake to the teeth of their rip saws? I have, but when I was drawing a 12 TPI template in Sketchup to re-tooth my Disston No.5 carcass saw, I realized that adding a touch of rake actually increases the volume of space between the teeth. If you look at a section through a saw file, you’ll see that you have an equilateral triangle (ignoring the rounded corners that define the gullets) and we know that the three angles of a triangle ...

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Part 15: W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner No.120 - Sharpened and Tested

07-06-2012 12:32 AM by Brit | 24 comments »

Well the rain finally stopped today and the sun came out. Looking out on my garden, the squirrels were making the most of it. I sat and watched this youngster somersaulting around the garden, before settling on a branch to devour his morning pine cone. Following his lead, I took the opportunity to get outside and sharpen another saw. Next up is the W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner No.120. Fourteen inches long with a .030” thick plate and an extra heavy spine. This is by far the heaviest ba...

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Part 16: Disston D8 - My first Crosscut Sharpening

07-14-2012 08:22 PM by Brit | 30 comments »

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 in...

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Part 17: Two Disston D8s - A Quick Progress Report

07-17-2012 11:38 PM by Brit | 19 comments »

Just wanted to post a quick video to show a Disston D8 that I sharpened today as a 7ppi rip saw with 5 degrees of rake. I’ve also included the Disston D8 from my last post which was filed 8ppi crosscut with 12 degrees of rake and 20 degrees of fleam.

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Part 18: Vintage Spear & Jackson 26" Handsaw - Sharpened and Tested

07-18-2012 11:56 PM by Brit | 38 comments »

This was the first saw I bought off ebay. I can’t remember how much I paid, but it wasn’t much. The seller only posted one dark grainy photo, so I didn’t really know what I was getting and at that time I didn’t know what to look for anyway. When it arrived and I removed the wrapping, I literally had goosebumps. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the hand-made tote was. More than once I’ve drifted off into dreamland imagining the work this saw has performed d...

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Part 19: It’s not me, it’s the saw

07-24-2012 11:08 PM by Brit | 20 comments »

Just in time for the Olympics, we’re now having a heat wave, so I decided to sharpen Big Joe. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to sharpen it. When I went to Paul Sellers’ saw sharpening workshop last December, I took it with me and tried to sharpen it rip. It looks like I know what I’m doing in that photo doesn’t it? Au contraire mon ami. I made a right pig’s ear of it. You’ve heard of progressive filing haven’t you? ...

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Part 20: W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner 14" Sash Saw - Sharpened and Tested

08-03-2012 07:56 AM by Brit | 26 comments »

COMMENTATOR: We go live now to the Sawing arena where Brit has just won gold. Sawing is a new Olympic event and is the only event where you get marked down for crossing the line. Brit, congratulations! BRIT: Thanks John. COMMENTATOR: You were up against Big Joe, a formidable opponent. Was there any doubt in your mind that you were going to win? BRIT: Well John, nothing is ever certain in sawing. We’ve met a couple of times before and he’s got the better of me, but I had a...

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Part 21: What the heck is a sash saw?

08-08-2012 09:43 PM by Brit | 31 comments »

I don’t mind admitting that sash saws confuse me. I’m not talking about the word ‘sash’. Obviously in days gone by, this type/size of backsaw was used to make sash windows and the name stuck. What confuses me is whether it is the length of the saw that defines it as a sash saw or the way it is filed. When I’m confused about hand tools, I turn to the people I respect in the hand tool world and when it comes to saws those people are Joel Moskowitz, Matt Cianci, and Mark Harrell. The excerpt...

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Part 22: Combination Saw Tooth Geometries Compared

08-12-2012 09:14 PM by Brit | 27 comments »

In my last post I said I would re-sharpen the Drabble and Sanderson to try Mark Harrell’s hybrid sharpening, but I decided to leave that one with 10 degrees of rake and 10 degrees of fleam. Instead, I re-toothed my 12” Spear and Jackson Leap Frog carcass saw from 10 tpi to 12tpi and applied Mark’s hybrid filing to that. I figured it would be good to have a 12” carcass saw with a combination filing as well as a 14” sash saw. Mark also recommends 10 degrees of rake, but he relaxes th...

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Part 23: 12" W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner Carcase Saw - Fitting a folded back

01-05-2013 12:21 AM by Brit | 33 comments »

Have you missed me? Sorry for leaving you hanging for so long, but work was a bit manic leading up to Christmas. Now where was I? Oh yeah, I was just about to sharpen the last of my crosscut backsaws, a 12” carcase saw made by W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner. I restored this saw in part 1 of this blog series. It had a number of issues and honestly, it still has a few of them. 1) The plate was heavily pitted in places.2) The plate had a wave in it. 3) The spine was bent.4) ...

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Part 24: What's taking me so long to finish this blog series...?

01-25-2013 01:30 AM by Brit | 18 comments »

... In a word – INDECISION. I’ve been thinking a lot about the best way to bring this Saw Talk blog series to a close and I’ve now decided that I’m going to do two more posts. In the next post I will share what I’ve learnt and some conclusions I’ve come to regarding sharpening saws. The final episode will take me a bit longer however, because I would like to post an in-depth video tutorial on saw sharpening. It will be quite long because I want to sho...

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Part 25: So what have I learnt and has it all been worth it?

02-10-2013 05:34 PM by Brit | 42 comments »

When I sat down to write this blog, my PC was asleep. I pressed a key and it immediately sprang into life so that I could begin typing. I tend to write my blogs in MS Word before pasting them into LJs and as I type, I receive feedback on my grammar and spelling and change my text accordingly. Hand tools are no different to MS Word really. Lying on a bench or hanging in a tool cabinet, they are nothing more than inanimate objects. Pick them up and use them for their intended purpose and they p...

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Part 26: Shopping list for the upcoming saw sharpening video

02-20-2013 11:50 PM by Brit | 18 comments »

Preparations for the video are progressing well and I hope to start recording shortly. I was asked over on the Saws, using collecting, cleaning and buying thread if I would put together a list of the things you will need to follow along with my upcoming saw sharpening video. Here is a list of what I consider to be essential items: 1) A 10-12” second cut hand file for jointing the teeth. You can use a shorter file if you are using a holder like the Veritas Jointer/Edger or one of t...

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Part 27: The one that got away...

05-24-2013 09:33 AM by Brit | 13 comments »

I was going to save this one for later, but on the Saw, using collecting, cleaning and buying thread, Stumpynubs asked if anyone knew anything about W. H. Armitage saws. Well it just so happens that I do and here’s what I’ve managed to find out. Some time ago now I acquired a 14” brass-backed backsaw and just by looking at it, I can tell it is the oldest backsaw I own. This saw plate is very rusty and black. There are a few missing teeth and the handle is loose and...

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Part 28: Sharpening Western Saws - Full Length Instructional Video

06-04-2013 01:03 AM by Brit | 107 comments »

Aimed at those new to saw sharpening, this instructional video is 2 1/4 hours long and covers the theory, the tools and the practice of sharpening western saws. You get to look over my shoulder as I sharpen four saws – two backsaws and two hand saws. I’ll explain the saw sharpening process and how you apply it to different scenarios. I really hope you find it useful. As to the production quality, I’ve done the best I could. I had to record it outside, so there is a bi...

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Part 29: Holtzapffel Saw File Handle Dimensions

08-08-2013 10:51 PM by Brit | 17 comments »

Just a quick post for you guys out there with a lathe. Since posting my saw sharpening video in Saw Talk #28, I’ve had a few enquiries about the saw file handles I use. I get them from an online retailer here in the UK and as far as I know they aren’t available anywhere else. That means that if you don’t live in the UK, shipping can be a bit prohibitive. So here are the dimensions (in millimetres I’m afraid) for anyone who is handy with a lathe. They are are a ̵...

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Part 30: Warranted Superior Medallions

11-24-2013 11:14 AM by Brit | 22 comments »

Over on the Saws, using collecting, restoring buying forum, summerfi (Bob) asked the following question with the accompanying collage of warranted superior medallions: “I have a question about Warranted Superior medallions. I’m most familiar with the eagle medallion, which came in several versions. There are several other WS medallions though (see pic below of medallions copied from the internet). My understanding is that some British sawmakers used the WS medallion on their saws, and some...

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