Bow Saw Tune-up

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Blog entry by horologist posted 10-31-2011 03:44 AM 6837 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A quick project for a Sunday afternoon.

I guess this doesn’t qualify as an official project since the only wood cut was from the scrap block in my drill press.

My wife gave me this bow saw last Christmas. The saw was ready to go except the blade was dull and rusty so I investigated replacement blades. I did consider cutting a bandsaw blade into 12” lengths and may yet give this a try. The Gramercy Tool web page has a lot of information on these tools and after trying their saw at the last Woodworking in America I ordered several sets of blades. If you are interested in making or buying one of these saws I would recommend checking out their web page.

The blades are essentially 12” coping saw blades and arrived with pins in place…

The bottom blade is the original one from the saw.

Some minor problems, my saw requires that one of the pins be removable, these pins are too short, and the blade is a little too long for my saw.

So some modifications are required.

First the pins must go. I have handy pliers for removing tapered pins in clocks and they were perfect for pushing the pin all the way to one side. A light tap with a punch and the pin is out.

Once the pin has been removed it is necessary to locate the new holes. These blades must be pretty hard judging by the shallow dimple my center punch left. So to drill the holes I used a carbide bit. This may have been an unnecessary precaution and I may try another bit when I drill the rest of the blades as the carbide is pretty unforgiving.

I have a few taper pins, but if you only need one or two then they are easy to file by hand. Clearly, the pin is too long.

Wire cutters leave a sharp edge. I was taught never to use a taper pin in a clock with this rough edge. You could chuck the pin in a collet in your lathe but the simplest method is to chuck it in a pinvise in a cordless drill.

Sharp burr removed. No cut fingers or snagged clothes.

Next, the Dremel with flexible shaft (Poor man’s Fordham) makes short work of trimming the blade to the correct length.

Finally, the blade is installed and works beautifully. Now to repeat the process on the rest of the blades.

All work was done under the close supervision of the shop dog…

-- Troy in Melrose, Florida

5 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 10-31-2011 03:55 AM

nice work, beautiful saw . i like the design

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3490 days

#2 posted 10-31-2011 04:09 AM

Hi Troy, I like your saw and your shop dog. Your clockmaking skills came it handy. You have tools that work nice for this sort of project

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18293 posts in 3704 days

#3 posted 10-31-2011 08:13 AM

Interesting. Nice job.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View CampD's profile


1676 posts in 3515 days

#4 posted 10-31-2011 01:44 PM

I like the pliers! I want one!
Also finding a nice bow saw would work too.
Nice blog, thx.

-- Doug...

View horologist's profile


104 posts in 3768 days

#5 posted 11-01-2011 02:25 AM

Thanks all.
The saw is one of the nicer examples I have seen and I am considering making a smaller version that will hold standard blades for a scroll saw. I just need to figure out how to hold the blade as pins aren’t practical for the smaller blades. Some sort of low profile clamp.

The clock tools come in handy for all sorts of things, a shame, as my favorite pliers tend to wend their way to someone’s jewelry bench.

-- Troy in Melrose, Florida

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