How much set for a hand-saw?

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Forum topic by 12strings posted 09-16-2013 04:44 PM 1075 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 1805 days

09-16-2013 04:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: saw set sharpening

For saw sharpeners…Do any of you have a “back-woods”, or “down-home” method for determining how much set a particular saw needs…(If your answer involves using calipers, please pass)?

Examples for the following would be helpful:

-Full-sized rip saw:
-Full-sized cross-cut saw:
-Medium rip carcass/tenon saw:
-Rip dovetail saw:


-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

2 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


15467 posts in 2427 days

#1 posted 09-16-2013 04:47 PM

For a rip saw I would use the least amount you can set the set to. Some rips came with no set at all.

Cross cut saws – I go with a light set. maybe 3-4 clicks on the set. You can always add more. Removing some is a bit more of a hassle.

Ive read / heard that adding 20% to the thickness of the plate is the ticket but im without a micrometer so there’s that. The way I see it is that I add the least amount of set you can, try it out, and see how she operates.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View MrRon's profile


3891 posts in 2664 days

#2 posted 09-16-2013 05:22 PM

Most important is the set must be an equal amount on each side for a saw to cut in a straight line. If set is too little, the blade will “chatter” as it cuts and will get stuck easily as the kerf closes. If the set is excessive, the saw will be “grabby” and hard to start. Without tools to measure, you can take the first few teeth at the handle end to use to set your saw setting tool. Those few teeth don’t see any cutting action, so they may indicate the original setting.

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