Turning Saw

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Project by rwyoung posted 01-18-2010 06:49 AM 2901 views 4 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been wanting to upgrade my coping saw for a while. It works but I’d like something with a bit deeper throat. A bandsaw is not in the budget right now and no room anyway. So how about a turning saw? Tools for Working Wood sell turning saws (they call it a bowsaw which is another name for this type of saw). They also sell the blades and the little brass pins you need for holding the blades. I decided to buy a blade sampler pack and the pins and make my own saw.

Joel and the crew at TFW have a nice set of instructions, tips and measured drawings to get you started. I decided to try white oak as I have a small stash of QSWO left from another project. Hickory and osage orange seem to be the two most suggested woods for bowsaws made in the US. Beechwood is the traditional choice. The QSWO is pretty straight grain and should work fine. But if you hear a loud snapping noise followed by some cussing we will just chalk it up to practice. :) Seriously, the key to using any wood for this project seems to be straight grain and orienting the grain so that the quarter sawn faces are on the inside edges of the arms and the flat sawn grain faces out.

I’ve done a few test cuts in some scrap 3/4” pine with the 10TPI blade. It cuts very quickly since the stroke is about 12”. And I can cut a pretty tight curve. I can also loose control of the curve easily. This is a practice issue, it just cuts a little differently from the coping saw I’m used to. My little practice fish ended up looking like Jimmy Durante but otherwise it was a breeze to free-hand a small shape. The Sharpie marker is just for scale in the photo.

The oak has been left somewhat rough. While I did sand the handles down to 220 on the lathe, the rest of the pieces are no finer than 100 grit or whatever marks were left by a mill file. I may go back later and refine the surfaces more but for now I’m digging the more rustic look. It feels fine in my hand and I didn’t leave any sharp edges. The oak will take on some personality with use too.

Kudos to Tools for Working Wood!

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

8 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


113833 posts in 2667 days

#1 posted 01-18-2010 06:54 AM

Looks good well done.

-- Custom furniture

View stefang's profile


14961 posts in 2425 days

#2 posted 01-18-2010 12:01 PM

That’s a very nice little saw. I have been thinking about making one myself for quite a few years now, but haven’t gotten around to it. If your budget doesn’t include a band saw, you might consider buying a scroll saw if you don’t already have one. They are relatively cheap and very versatile tools despite their limited cutting height.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View PineInTheAsh's profile


404 posts in 2358 days

#3 posted 01-18-2010 12:59 PM

Adding to Mike’s excellent suggestion… You might also consider a vintage scroll saw. They go for little money, work beautifully (some argue better than the new ones) and parts are available easy. Check CL and eBay regularly.


View RickL's profile


251 posts in 3031 days

#4 posted 01-18-2010 01:10 PM

RW, great looking saw . Since I purchased mine from Jim Bode (antique) tools, I replaced the blade, and use the band saw less and less. Enjoy the new saw.


-- Rick, Union,KY

View BTKS's profile


1984 posts in 2555 days

#5 posted 01-18-2010 03:59 PM

I enjoy traditional tools. I just don’t use them enough. Thanks for keeping the traditional ways alive. BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View mvflaim's profile


183 posts in 2181 days

#6 posted 01-18-2010 10:55 PM

Nice saw. I use my all the time when cutting dovetails. That kit is worth every penny


View rwyoung's profile


369 posts in 2562 days

#7 posted 01-19-2010 10:34 PM

I’d rather have a bandsaw than a dedicated scroll saw. And for now, I have access to a 20” DeWalt scroll saw as well as 17” and 14” bandsaws. I just have to factor in the drive time if I want to use them versus doing it in my shop.

Its a fun tool to play with.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2205 days

#8 posted 01-20-2010 10:12 AM

it´s a great little saw you have made


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