Homemade bow saw

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Blog entry by oscorner posted 07-05-2007 04:38 AM 15000 reads 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I saw a bow saw one day on the internet, did some research on them and decided to make me one. I used rived oak for the two handles, cherry for the part that connects the handles (which is connected with mortise and tenon joinery) and some spalted wood for the handles that hold the blade. I had to glue a some cherry dowels I made into the spalted wood because the spalted wood was too soft to stand the pressure of tightening the blade. I cut two finishing nails and used them as pins to attach the blade with. In my research, bandsaw blades were cut to length, then holes were drilled into the ends so they could be attached. This didn’t work for me… the holes on the blades always fail. I might get a couple of strokes on the saw, but that is it.

Mistake #1: I made the length between the handles without regard to commercially available blades, thus the need to use bandsaw blades. I can fix this by lengthening or shortening the piece that ties the handles together.

In this photo you can see where I mortised first and found it to be too high.

Here is a closer look at the way the blade is attached and the beauty of the spalted wood.

You can see the X’s I put to help me align the handles as I glued the dowels into the handles. I guess I forgot to erase them.

To tighten the blade, you just twist the string with the piece of flat oak and let it rest against the cross brace. You’d be surprised how much tension this will develop. One day I may redo it to make it usable, but for now it is a conversation piece in my shop.

-- Jesus is Lord!

12 comments so far

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4496 days

#1 posted 07-05-2007 04:45 AM

Nice saw OS, it looks like an antique. I have some bucksaw blades for a saw like that. They’re about 1” wide. I’ve been going to make one. I’ll take a look in amongst my junk, & take measurements. they might work for you.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 4274 days

#2 posted 07-05-2007 04:49 AM

Looks well O’s, bet you save some real monies.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4507 days

#3 posted 07-05-2007 05:01 AM

Thank you, Dick I do like the look of this type of saw. PJ the cost was negligible. The wood was harvested by my brother and my self. The only thing I bought was the band saw blade and I still have some of it left.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Karson's profile


35145 posts in 4597 days

#4 posted 07-05-2007 05:54 AM


How is the blade failing I can’t see how a bandsaw blade would fail. Are you just drilling a hole through the middle of the blade.

What size blade are you using. I buy my bandsaw blades in 100’ coils and weld them all up myself. I’ve got plenty of blade 1/2”, 3/4”, probably 1” and some 1 1/4 that is a cobolt blade for cutting stainless steel but tis probably about 3 or 4 teeth to the inch. Might be hard to use on a hand saw.

Lef me know the size you are trying and the number of teeth and I’ll see what I can come closest to, also the length of the blade.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4373 days

#5 posted 07-05-2007 06:09 AM

Hi, Mark.

I’ve been planning to make one of these for a long time. Check out this site to see a PDF file with good clear plans on making one. Also a good source of parts.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Karson's profile


35145 posts in 4597 days

#6 posted 07-05-2007 06:24 AM

Don That is a great site. Thanks.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4511 days

#7 posted 07-05-2007 03:00 PM

Interesting project!

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4335 days

#8 posted 07-05-2007 08:47 PM

Mark – Very interesting post. I used to have a small frame saw, commercially produced saw that I bought at a flea market. I no longer have the saw, but have thought many times “I could make one” so this posting really piqued my interest. Thanks for sharing this! Great looking saw. I really like how you shared your experience with the construction – what worked and what did not work.

Don – Great link!


View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4507 days

#9 posted 07-07-2007 08:59 AM

Thanks everyone. Karson, what failed was the hole that I drilled in the bandsaw blade. The nail would pull right through the metal. That’s what I meant about one being surprised how much tenson that could be created by the string. I tried using a 4 t.p.i. blade that was 1/8” wide. I wanted to use this saw as a framing saw, I think that is the right terminology. So, I didn’t want to use too wide a blade because I wanted to cut curves with it. Anyway, if I would shorten it, then a commercial blade or hacksaw blade could be used.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4193 days

#10 posted 07-11-2007 09:59 AM

Cool project Mark! And, I see you inspired Don to do the same!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4507 days

#11 posted 07-11-2007 10:09 PM

Don, thanks for the web site. I’m sorry that it took me a while to check it out. I might have to see about getting some of their blades and redo mine to fit them.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View buffalojim's profile


19 posts in 3242 days

#12 posted 01-23-2010 03:11 AM

Does anyone have plans for bow saw.

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