Monday, October 28, 2013


At long last, the marriage of spine and sawblade. After carefully filing all the burs from the edge of the sawblade, I set the spine in a groove in a block of wood. Then working from one end to the other, I insert the blade in the spine with a very hard rubber mallet. You have to give some serious blows to get it in, so don't be scared.

I didn't get them all to the same depth. While hammering you can see how the blade curves or stretches, depending on where you hit it. Often hitting it at the outer ends tends to straighten the blade. I stopped when the blade was deep enough and reasonably straight.

Then on to some finetuning. I had to reposition one of the sawblades in the spine (it was too much forward), like this.

To get the toothline really straight, I had to do some very carefull bending. Despite the hamfisted look of this picture, it's actually very precise.

Checking for twist in the blade.

And readjusting where neccessary. One end clamped in the vise. The other end is torqued with a clamp. I could also have used a crescent wrench or something similar, but this doesn't leave ugly marks on the brass.

And this is the harvest. I am very happy so far. This has been a major breakthrough in the project. I'll have to do some more sanding, but that's OK. Next step is filing some teeth.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Grinding brass

After a few days with other jobs, I found some time to continue working on the saws again. Grinding is the job at hand. Like I wrote last time, I use a handheld sander upside down in the vise. It's far from ideal, but it works. Here is one of the sawbacks where I was still learning the hammering technique, so it is full of dents. But I have 3 mm of brass and a 60 grit belt, so it is no problem.

The chamfers are also made on the sander. I just hold them at roughly 45 degrees and that works very well. I spend all afternoon working up the grits, from 60 to 240. I made the round nose and also a nice chamfer along its edge with files and sandpaper.

Above 240 grit it's time for handwork. 400 and 600 grit, with a sanding block.

And that's where I am now. Maybe I'll polish them up a bit with steelwool later. It looks like I have now arrived at the point where other home sawmakers usually start, when they buy the parts from a supplier. I have a steel plate, a back and some splitnuts. Time to do some assembly and look at the wooden part of this business.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Working the back

After flattening and straightening the back, it's time to do something about its shape. The back is a tapered one in this saw, so I mark a line and cut it with a hacksaw.

Then filing to remove the saw marks and straightening the cut. Finally everything needs to get sanded to remove all the hammer marks and dents. I use a handheld bandsander, clamped upside down in the vise. Going slow, not too much pressure, cooling in a bucket of water when my fingers get hot. And not being too skimpy with the sandpaper rolls.

Slowly they are starting to look nice!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Back bashing

As promissed, some pictures about how to make the folded brass back nice and flat (and straight).

First annealing the brass. I heat it up as hot as I can get it and let it cool down again. It doesn't get redhot (need a larger torch) but every little bit helps to make the brass a bit softer.

Then I bring it back into the shop (don't look at the mess...). I have an extra, very thin steel plate of only 0.3mm thick. This I insert in the previously folded back. I use the anvil from my metal working vise, which happens to be quite large. The hammer is 1 kg.

And then the bashing begins. I try to hit the brass as square as possible to limit the amount of dents. First one side, then the other. I check how straight everything is going to be. Putting the concave side down and hitting from above, helps to correct bows.

This video is heavy metal! So, turn up the volume to amuse the neighbours. Mine were very pleased too.

First back is there!

Just two quick pictures. Yesterday the sawplates arrived and I could start on fitting the backs. First one is now tight, straight and sanded to 60 grit. everything still needs to be cut to length and finished further. I'll make some pictures this week of the process.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Selecting beech

The old English saws were always made with beech handles. Often with beautifull ray fleck patterns. They used to split the wood, a method which opens up the wood in the exact radial plane. Because I use sawn wood, I have to search for the right plane where the rings are perpendicular to the face.

Some pictures. First the chopsaw. My "new" Spear and Jackson 6ppi crosscut saw.

Cutting oblique on the tablesaw, until I find some nice rayflecks.

And this is the result.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A bunch of screws.

Today was screw day. The first part is the same for all things round: the metal lathe.

But some things are not round. The nuts need a screwdriver slot. I start with a metal handsaw, more or less in the middle. Widen up the slot a bit with a file.

The screw also needs filing. Under the head, I need a square shank, so the screw won't rotate when tightening the nut. No meassuring, just eyeballing it.

And that's it. Nuts and bolts.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

More of the same

Sometimes I like a good challenge. This time I'm trying to make a small batch of saws and trying to make them as good as I can. Can I get through the repetitive stuff, without cutting corners? Will they all look more or less the same?

So, I made a start today, bending some brass. First on a metal brake, a 90 degree bend.

This is further tightened in a large machinists vise, protected with some scrapmetal of course.

Pushing on the handle with all my might, I didn't get any further then this.

Well, it doesn't look like much yet, but it's a good start. Good enough to encourage me to order the saw steel plates. I won't continue until  they have arrived, so I can take a big hammer to smash everything flat, with just enough space to clamp the sawplate.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saw's finished

Today I got around to file the new teeth in the sawplate, something I didn't look forward to. I choose an 18 ppi pattern, which means very small teeth. I used a patern from this website. Folding the patern over the sawplate, clamped between some small battens in a vise. I couldn't use my normal saw vise because the saw is too small. I used a small block of wood on the tip of the file to help me getting a consistent rake angle for all the teeth. Something like this.

And this is the saw. Not a great picture, but it shows the canting of the plate and the tapering of the spine pretty well. The handle is far from elegant, rather robust I'd say, but it is very comfy. I made it a little thicker at 24mm, which feels good. My previous saw build has a 22mm handle, which is a bit too thin.

And here are the money shots!

Pretty nice piece of beech isn't it? You can click on the pictures to see a larger image.
Oh, BTW, the saw works allright. At 18 ppi it is not fast, but it goes down this piece of beech like butter.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Some small changes to the saw handle

When I was looking at the pictures of the saw handle yesterday, I wasn't happy with how it looked. The upper horn was way too fat and bulky. The curves leading up to the point of the upper horn weren't very smooth either. And the chamfer around the round part with the sawscrews kind of didn't flow.

Weird how you don't see these things when you are working on it, but it is glaringly obvious in a picture. So, just before bedtime I went out to the shop again and spent some time with rasp and sandpaper to make things better. With a coat of oil it now looks like this. Much better I think, allthough I didn't remove much wood.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Some pictures from the sawscrew assembly. I made the sawscrews and nuts just a little bit oversized, 11.05mm I think, with a slight taper inwards. The holes for the nuts will be drilled at 11mm, so they will sit tight without any gaps showing.

First I drill a pilot hole through the handle with my smallest drillbit, 1.6mm. This makes sure I have the same position on both sides of the handle. Then I line up the handle under the 11mm dillbit on the drillpress table and clamp it down. I drill, using the depthstop, abound 3mm deep, so half a mm of the screw will still be protruding. Using the same setting, I exchange the 11mm drillbit for a 6mm one to make a deeper hole where the square part of the screw will be. Finally with a 4mm drillbit I go about halfway through the handle, this being the size of the threaded part of the screw. Then I turn over the handle and carefully line up the 1.6mm pilothole with the 11mm drillbit again. Drill 3mm deep, exchange for the 4mm bit and drill all the way through the handle. When you do this carefully, lining everything up as good as you can, you will end up with a perfectly straight stepped hole from both sides.

I hope the above text was understandable, with all the mm sizes and so on. After drilling I square up the 6mm hole with a fine chisel.

After assembling the saw and tightening the nuts, they are still protruding somewhat above the wood surface. So I use a file to make them flush. Final job is laying the handle flat on a piece of sanding paper and sanding in the direction of the length of the saw. This is how all the old saws look like, with sanding scratches on the splitnuts.

After applying several coats of oil, this is how it looks now. I can see plenty of little mistakes, but overall it isn't too bad. Next job is filing the teeth, to really make it a saw.