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The Bowsaw

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Review by lethentymill posted 07-09-2008 04:24 PM 6860 views 3 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The Bowsaw No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Like the spokeshave, the bowsaw is very useful to the chairmaker. Some people like them, some hate them. Teaching evening classes have made me aware of this.

If I feel that I’m in a corner; “Do I have to use this thing ?”
If “People use them a lot more on the Continent” hasn’t worked, and “Do you know how much a good bandsaw costs?” hasn’t worked either; feeling that it is unreasonable to expect to learn a skill like this in half-an-hour I usually mutter something about how it’s another hand tool skill to add to the list, another experience of wood cutting; maybe never to be repeated, but still valuable none the less. They are very patient with me.

The ECE bowsaw is about the right size for me; it takes a 600mm blade, is well made and the handles don’t rotate easily when the saw is tensioned up. A range of blades is available, but only the narrow one is for curve cutting, the others allow you to cross cut or rip with a big limitation imposed by the central strut – the “throat” is only 120mm.

Steering the blade, or coming back on line is easier said than done. Don’t try it using the middle of the blade – use the ends, cut near the handle while taking any pressure off the saw. Just run the saw back and fore in the groove putting turning pressure on the handle.

Make sure the teeth are away from you so that you are cutting on the push stroke.

It’s boring I know! But, practice makes perfect! The bowsaw will reward patience and a good bandsaw is expensive.

-- Allan Fyfe, Lethenty Mill Furniture, http://www.lethenty-mill.com




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lethentymill

61 posts in 2297 days



5 comments so far

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lew

10092 posts in 2444 days


#1 posted 07-09-2008 04:33 PM

I watched Roy Underhill use one of the on his PBS show. It made me think of how labor intensive fine furniture building must have been before power tools.

Thanks for the post.

Lew

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

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moshel

864 posts in 2372 days


#2 posted 07-10-2008 10:44 AM

I am now in the process of making one! I have several pieces of Oak trunk that me and deltxguy saved from becoming firewood and we were looking for a way to mill it. bowsaw seems like and interesting idea, as it can slice to any depth. will probably fail, but worth trying… i just finished the handles and the beam (its a long beam – 90cm). handles are cherry, beam is Rimu. should at least look nice. we will use bandsaw blade for the blade. may we all live at interesting times :-)

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

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Ingemar

10 posts in 2435 days


#3 posted 07-10-2008 12:14 PM

Thanks for the post. Right on time it is too.
I got one of these with a rip blade yesterday. Today I am ripping a pice of Ash over 2” thick. To me it is exhausting more than booring. (Just taking a little break now.) As you say, they are not easy to steer. I was off track, but following your instructions got me back on track in a matter of seconds. Thank you!
As for the quality of ECE tools, in my experience they are what I would expect from a german maker, excellent quality – but not things of beauty. I am thinking of getting one of their planes with a lignum vitae sole too.

Ingemar

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lethentymill

61 posts in 2297 days


#4 posted 07-15-2008 01:53 PM

People ask me about E C Emmerich (ECE) tools and I can ‘hand on heart’ say that they are good. They are a good, modern equivalent to the antique wooden tools, which I am very keen on. I use them at evening classes, where people can try them out and I recommend them on one of my other sites too, http://www.wood-shop.co.uk.

I’ve written another review about the Primus planes, which may be of interest (the link is http://www.wood-mag.co.uk/articles/primus-planes.html). I’ll have to get round to posting this article on LJs soon, since others (happily) seem to share my enthusiasm for these tools.

Moshel – I was interested to read your post. I think one of the nicest features about the bowsaw is that it can easily be dismantled and transported in pieces, if necessary. Is the bowsaw you are making going to be easily dismantled?

-- Allan Fyfe, Lethenty Mill Furniture, http://www.lethenty-mill.com

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moshel

864 posts in 2372 days


#5 posted 07-15-2008 02:57 PM

yes, it is. there is no glue in the joints (actually, i think that you shouldn’t glue it unless its a very small saw), and the blade will be held in place by two small bolts.
another nice feature is that you can use several “horizontal beams” and blades on the same saw, using it for different jobs (smaller saw if you need precise cut, longer saw for slicing and resawing). its not finished yet, so all this is theoretical.

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

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