Wood Bow Saw - Metal Bow Saw •

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Project by tyvekboy posted 03-05-2016 12:40 AM 1645 views 14 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Mar 4, 2016

Bow saws are so retro and so beautiful. I decided that I needed one.

I started with a Gramercy Bow Saw Kit from TOOLS FOR WORKING WOOD (TFWW) in Brooklyn, NY. The kit includes two brass pins and 3 sizes of 12 inch blades. Total cost was $26.00 plus shipping. The saw blades look like a long coping saw blades. Kits are also available with the handles included for $50.00. Free plans and directions are available for download from their website.

On page 4 of 4 of the plans are templates that you can print out, cut and paste onto your wood blanks to make cutting the handles easier.

If you go to YouTube and search for ”bow saw making” you will find several good videos on building this bow saw.

There was a funny video where the maker makes several mistakes in cutting his stretcher. He also has a good technique for making the toggle peg.

I started by turning the handles … one long and one short. I decided I needed practice so I turned the first ones out of hickory. The second one (pictured above) was out of sapele. I’m glad I did that because the sapele one’s turned out better. They were finished with friction polish on the lathe.

The supplied brass pins did not have threads on them.

I watched a video that showed the pins epoxied into the block of wood before turning. I wanted to leave myself a way out if I messed up on the turning. So I used a 1/4-20 die to thread the ends of the pins that were inserted into the handles. The pin was a little smaller than 1/4 inch but it turned out ok. I decided I could always come back at a later time and add some CA glue to the threads to permanently attach the pins in the hangles if it became a problem not being glued. The holes in the handles were drilled smaller than the threaded ends of the pins so that it would be a tight fit. If you choose to do this too, drill a test hole in a scrap piece of wood before drilling into your final piece.

Also turned on the lathe was the toggles that are used to tension the blade. One was made from walnut scraps and the other one was made from some cumaru. They were finished with danish oil.

Next I built the saw frames. Since I deviated from the downloaded plans I wanted to practice on some beech wood scraps. My final bow saw was going to be out of curly maple and I only had enough to make one.

The deviation from the plans was at the top of the bow saw handles. The plan design looked like this.

I wanted it to end with a scroll carving instead.

The first saw frame out of beech turned out fine and gave me confidence to make the next one out of the curly maple which also turned out fine.

Since each joint in the frame was fitted and could only be assembled one way, I decided mark the proper position by gluing a short piece of walnut dowel into holes drill 1/2 into the pieces to be marked. Since the dowels didn’t go all the way through the pieces, there is only one way that the saw frame can be assembled.

So now I have a functional WOOD bow saw.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

So what do I do with the practice handles and frame? I thought about ordering another set of pins and bow saw blades.

However, since a hack saw blade is also 12 inches long, I decided to make the practice pieces into a METAL bow saw. However this required making some pins for it.

I used a piece of 1/4 inch steel rod that was 3 inches long. Using a 1/4-20 die I threaded 1-3/16 inch of one end of the rod so when a 1/4 inch nut was installed, 7/8 inch of threads were exposed. On the other end of the rod I filed off about 3/64 inch from the side of the rod to create a flat area about about 1/2 inch long. Then a hole a little smaller than 1/8 inch was drilled into the flat area about 1/4 inch from the end. Then an 1/8 inch steel pin about 3/8 inch long was press-fit into the hole.

The assembled pins and the practice handles looked pretty good. However, to install these assemblies into the saw frame made with beech, the handle and nut had to be removed from the pin assembly. After the pin is inserted into the frame from the inside, the nut and the handle is reinstalled.

The completed METAL bow saw looks like it’s going to work well.

The bow string I used to tension the bow saws was nylon mason string. Four strands on either side were used.

Both bow saws were finished with danish oil.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Here are some things that I did when making my bow saws.

1. I made the handles first. I left the thickness of the handles (and the cross piece) at 3/4 inches thick although the plans are thinner. I cut the handle blanks first at 1-1/4 inch wide and 12 inches long. I then pasted the template to the blank with spray adhesive.

2. I then cut the mortise a little more than 3/8 inch deep with a chisel. This was to assure that the cross piece tennon does not bottom out in the mortise.

3. I also drilled the 1/4 inch hole for the pins. It seemed a little tight so I enlarged the hole with a little bigger drill from the outside of the frame BUT only drilled in about 1 inch. This is optional.

4. I then cut my handles out on the bandsaw using the template. I stayed just outside the lines and sanded to the lines with an oscillating belt/spindle sander. The curved area by the mortise was also sanded to the line of the template with the sander.

5. The 1/4 inch long tennons were then cut on the ends of the cross piece that measured 13-1/2 inch long by 1 inch wide. I then used a file to shape the end around the tennon to mate with the curved area around the mortise. File and check fit often to get a good fit. Work slowly and sneak up on the joint. Make sure to mark the orientation of the pieces. You may choose to mark it like I did with a piece of dowel.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

If you’re thinking of ordering the kit parts and making this bow saw, you will enjoy the process. You don’t have to go to the extremes that I did in making mine but it was fun to make. I’m looking forward to using it one day.

Now I have to find a place to hang both of them in my shop.

Thanks for looking. Comments and favorites appreciated. Questions welcomed.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

30 comments so far

View Carey  Mitchell's profile

Carey Mitchell

83 posts in 1383 days

#1 posted 03-05-2016 12:51 AM

As usual with you, something highly practical and beautiful. Very nice, now I need one.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1716 days

#2 posted 03-05-2016 12:52 AM

Beautiful and outstanding craftsmanship! I especially like your touch of the ends with scroll carvings.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View unisaw2's profile (online now)


208 posts in 2459 days

#3 posted 03-05-2016 01:11 AM

Outstanding! Now you need to let us know how they cut!

-- JJ - Northern Illinois

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9331 posts in 3476 days

#4 posted 03-05-2016 01:12 AM

COOL saws!

I’ve never seen a Bow Hack Saw before! Nice creation! LOL

Very interesting…

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Lenny's profile


1475 posts in 2951 days

#5 posted 03-05-2016 01:27 AM

You took on a wonderful project and…made a beautiful project! Two in fact. That’s a wonderful idea and great use of your test lumber.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View kiefer's profile


4873 posts in 2091 days

#6 posted 03-05-2016 03:24 AM

Very nice Alex
Great looking pair of saws with the craftsman touch just love the scroll ends they are a beautiful .
I am sure you will use them soon so enjoy and maybe make a equally nice hook to hang them and show them of .


-- Kiefer

View DocSavage45's profile


7658 posts in 2266 days

#7 posted 03-05-2016 03:26 AM

Nice craftsmanship!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View woodcox's profile


1517 posts in 1436 days

#8 posted 03-05-2016 03:40 AM

Good work with the hardware. That carving tho…nice one man.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View BobWemm's profile


1732 posts in 1350 days

#9 posted 03-05-2016 06:52 AM

Very interesting. Love the Maple.
Great job all round.
Thanks for sharing,


-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View majuvla's profile


8749 posts in 2291 days

#10 posted 03-05-2016 07:58 AM

Beautiful work, very precise made and also with real profesional woodworking details.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Schwieb's profile


1792 posts in 2885 days

#11 posted 03-05-2016 10:19 AM

Great job Alex. I’ve long wanted to do just this project. I have even gathered materials to do it, just never got around to actually making it.

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

View ShopBuilt's profile


29 posts in 801 days

#12 posted 03-05-2016 10:55 AM

Great project! You should consider starting a YouTube channel, I’d bet you would really enjoy it:) there is a great woodworking community of there.

View Charlie75's profile


286 posts in 1689 days

#13 posted 03-05-2016 10:59 AM

Man, those are so cool. Well done. I loved the video. Thanks for the link.

-- Charlie75, Alto

View MrLaughingbrook's profile


85 posts in 1391 days

#14 posted 03-05-2016 10:59 AM

Very nice work. Thanks for sharing the details.

-- MrLaughingbrook

View JoeinGa's profile


7386 posts in 1431 days

#15 posted 03-05-2016 01:40 PM

Nice job. They BOTH came out looking great !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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