An Inexpensive Frame Saw

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Project by Timmy2Hands posted 06-15-2016 02:21 AM 1295 views 20 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For a hand tool woodworker that wants to re-saw lumber to get book matched panels or just re-size thicker stock a frame saw is a great option. The biggest problem I ran into was the price.

Bad Axe Tool Works offers a frame saw and kerfing plane kit for $250.00

Blackburn Tools offer a frame saw only kit for $110.00

Both of these are terrific options, I admit, but that money is a good chunk towards a 14” bandsaw and a riser block. I really started to second guess my decision to stick with hand tools.

I came across a neet little post on Hyperkitten about making a frame saw with a 3/4” bandsaw blade. . I like the idea of using cheap easily accessible hardware, but I still don’t have a bandsaw blade.

As I was shopping for a new tenon saw, I happened upon a replacement blade for a verticle style frame saw for $18.95. (it’s the last on the list and the saw it’s for is in the picture above it). The blade is 27 1/2” long and 1 1/2” wide, it’s filed for a rip cut, and has 5 points per inch. It’s perfect.

So I melded the two ideas, cheap hardware, and a cheap rip saw blade.

Here is what I came up with.

This is just a prototype made with some leftover Southern Yellow Pine that I had in the shop.

I may, or may not, remake the frame out of hardwood at a later date.

So, here is the blade, it’s 27 1/2” long and 1 1/2” wide 5ppi filed rip cut. $18.95

I use two 4” long by 1/2” carriage bolts, a wing nut and washer, and some 1/4 – 20 nuts and bolts. All for less than $10 at ACE Hardware. I’ve cut the head off one of the carriage bolts in this pic. The other one needs the head left in tact.

I had some Southern Yellow Pine kicking around the shop so I put it to use.

I needed a way to hold the bolts. I cut a 1/2” hole in a scrap of pine and then cut it in half. This made a nice fixture for my vise.

The 1/2” carriage bolts both need a 1/4” hole for attaching the saw blade. I filed 1” long flats on either side with a standard mill file to make drilling easier and to give the 1/4-20 bolts a place to seat when tightened.

Both carriage bolts also need a slit cut down the middle for the saw blade. A hacksaw makes short work of this.

Here is why you cut the head off one of the carriage bolts. This is how you will tension the saw blade.

The pine that had was 2×12 and 2×10 stock. I made sure to cut from the edges of the wider boards so that I was left with rift sawn pieces and nice straight grain.

I trimmed one side square and then clamped the pieces together to mark the length on both pieces at the same time.

All the pieces are 1 1/2” x 1 1/2”. The long stretchers are 31 1/2” long, and the short stretchers are 19 5/8” long. The length of the long pices takes into acount the through tenons (3” total in this case). From shoulder to shoulder these pieces need to be one inch longer than your saw blade. The short stretchers will simply determine the overall width of your frame and can vary to your liking. Wider is better.

As I mentioned earlier I was shopping for a new tenon saw. Here it is.

Thomas Flinn PAX Tenon Saw. . I’m really happy with this saw and would recommend it. Good quality, good price, and quite a bit heavier than the Veritas saws that I’m used to.

Once the pieces are planed and trimmed to size I mark out the joinery. For this basic prototype I’m just doing simple through tenons. If I re-make the frame in hardwood later I may decide to get a little fancier with the joinery.

So here it is all put together.

No glue needed, the tension on the saw blade holds everything together nicely and it can be broken down for storage or travel.

The last thing I need to do is hit it with a spoke shave and a rasp and file to soften all the edges and corners and get the handle area smooth and rounded.

So, frame saws are notorious for drifting as you cut. That’s why Bad Axe Tool Works includes a kerfing plane in their kit.

I have a Record #050 plow plane with a 1/8” cutter and that’s what I’m going to create the kerf with.

Here I’ve removed the larger section of the plane that is not needed with the smaller cutters.

I’ve got a 3/4” thick piece of Sepele and I’ve got the 1/8” groove centered.

I cut the groove on all four edges of the board including the end grain. Make sure your iron is sharp.

It’s woorking way better than I imagined and takes a lot less effort than trying this cut with a standard rip saw.

The Sepele board is 6” wide and 13” long

The cut took me about 7 minutes, but I’ll get that time down a lot with some practice.

Using the plow plane leaves me a nice flat area around the edge of both pieces and gives me a target to work towards with the hand planes.

I hope you liked it, and thanks for following along.

-- Tim

9 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


7124 posts in 2000 days

#1 posted 06-15-2016 04:37 AM

That’s awesome Tim I like it!

View CFrye's profile


8593 posts in 1263 days

#2 posted 06-15-2016 10:03 AM

Nicely done, Tim! It took me 7 minutes to cut a piece of Brazilian cherry that size with the bandsaw! Are you using the blade on the pull or push stroke? Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View Timmy2Hands's profile


108 posts in 388 days

#3 posted 06-15-2016 01:09 PM

Candy, I use it on the push stroke.

-- Tim

View swirt's profile


2107 posts in 2395 days

#4 posted 06-15-2016 02:22 PM

A very nice saw for a great price. Nice find and thanks for sharing.

-- Galootish log blog,

View oltexasboy1's profile


240 posts in 1128 days

#5 posted 06-15-2016 07:02 PM

I was looking at the ECE website but they don’t say how thick the blade is. Did you measure it or was it just luck that the hacksaw was the same thickness? Also, thanks for doing this project. I was holding out pulling the trigger on that pricey hardware myself, considering as you said it costs almost as much as a cheap bandsaw.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View Timmy2Hands's profile


108 posts in 388 days

#6 posted 06-15-2016 07:05 PM

It was really just luck.
I had different hacksaw blades, fine, medium, and coarse. I used the coarse blade.

-- Tim

View bobasaurus's profile


2587 posts in 2607 days

#7 posted 06-15-2016 08:18 PM

Very useful. I’ll have to try this someday.

-- Allen, Colorado

View Pointer's profile


363 posts in 534 days

#8 posted 06-15-2016 11:42 PM

Very nice post. Thanks for the many pics. I too will have to give this a try some day.

-- Joe - - Laughter is like a windshied wiper, it doesn't stop the rain but allows us to keep going.

View muesli's profile


227 posts in 932 days

#9 posted 06-17-2016 08:07 AM

Great tool and a great article about how you made it!

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