Tools #3: Blackburn Tools Roubo Frame Saw

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 10-07-2017 01:18 AM 664 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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To make thin stock, I’ve planed down boards. 1”+ to 3/8-1/2” thickness for things. So much waste! I’ve tried using a hand saw to do this, but, well, you need only do it once to recognize how hard it is. A bandsaw is the obvious solution. Two years ago, it’s what I was focused on. But as I’ve come to love hand tools I find myself unexcited about a bandsaw. Another option, I discovered, is the Roubo frame saw. Both Blackburn Tools and Bad Axe make kits. These looked like just the thing I needed! Shannon Rogers had two videos that really helped me understand these saws: RWW 151 Roubo Resaw Frame Saw in Action and Resawing by Hand, RWW LIVE.

I should perhaps back up and say the time was early June when I discovered these frame saws. I was actively looking into them because my wife really wanted me to build a spice rack for her. Yes, it’s been a running joke that I would need a big frame saw in order to build a spice rack! (It’s also worth noting that my wife is quite the cook and has quite the supply of spices, so at 5’ and 2’ wide, this is a serious spice rack, too.)

I was headed up to Maine in early July for one of Lie-Nielsen’s open houses (it was awesome!) and Blackburn Tools was going to be there. I got to play with a few of their saws and ordered the hardware and 4’ x 4” saw plate to build my own saw. The frame saw is quite large but balanced well and so wasn’t actually difficult to handle. I’d only had a few minutes with it but it was easy to see it was just what I needed.

After receiving the hardware and saw plate a few weeks later I built a frame for the saw out of ash, following the Blackburn Tools plans. I apparently didn’t take photos of the progress, but it’s a pretty easy build. The most involved part was “carving” the handle. Without a spokeshave or other carving tools I decided to just round things over; the shape is comfortable and functional, so I’m pleased with it.

And now for scale, a photo of me and saw. The saw is 2’ wide and a fraction of an inch under 5’ long from tip of hardware to tip of hardware.

I started practicing on 2×4 and 2×6 scraps. Awesome. In the 2×4 I was able to manage up to about 1-1/2” per stroke. Sawdust shoots out the back of the saw as though it’s a power tool. I resawed a bunch of other stuff and then began cutting red oak for the spice rack. I am still learning to handle the saw, but if I take my time and line up before each stroke I can stay tight on the line and make great cuts.

In short, this saw is phenomenal. I am actually giddy when I use it, just watching it tear through what I’m cutting! Wonderfully fun to use, significantly less costly than a bandsaw, less noisy, and likely not much slower. And I’ve used it so much more in working on this spice rack for my wife!

2 comments so far

View FoundSheep's profile


167 posts in 387 days

#1 posted 10-10-2017 03:11 AM

Awesome work! I’ve gone back and forth myself thinking it would be fun to use and it sounds just make an already laborious task even more so.
But it looks like fun now!

-- -Will, FoundSheep Designs

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

154 posts in 738 days

#2 posted 10-11-2017 12:37 AM

It’s definitely a fun saw to use. Compared to resawing with a hand saw, it’s downright easy. It’s actually not much of a workout to resaw with the frame saw. It’s so big that you need to focus on using your whole body to move the saw—lean into it and push with your whole body, only moving your arms at the end of the stroke. Using your whole body, it’s actually a surprisingly easy and non-intensive effort.

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