I've read several posts here on sharpening, watched lots of videos and learned about fleam, rake angles, jointing, and points to name a few.
I decided to try my first sharpening attempt by hand so I opted not to use the jig and just used a basic file holder for both jointing and sharpening the teeth. Can't really tell from that angle, but you've covered the important part - the saw cuts well now.
I just found Ron Hermans video on sharpening- Shop Class, Popular Woodworking Magazine very helpful. Of all the things I'm learning in woodworking, saw sharpening is the skill I'm most glad that I took the time to learn. Plus if you keep this practice alive Chris may sell another saw to get a new plate to play with and Archie could get another great deal on a saw, right Archie? Tonight I'm going to tackle another rip saw then try my hand at a cross cut saw, after I read some of the info above. When I first started in woodwork I was shown how to sharpen my saws within a very makeshift device. Whilst tidying through one of our barns recently I came across this saw vice and I could see immediately how practical the design was – the jaw is just wedged in to the frame so that it holds the saw tightly as you push it down. With very few tweaks I think this will be my perfect saw vice and it just happened to be sat lying amongst a pile of rubbish, it’s funny how things can just find you. The strange thing about us humans is that one always tends to think that what is common knowledge to you,is also to others, the saw vice that you found in your barn is the type that I thought everyone had in their kit, as it is the type used by our woodwork shop at school 50 years ago, just how many other things are we taking for granted? As an afterthought – any tips on sharpening fine dovetail saws would be appreciated – the tiny teeth are a bit daunting!
This looks nice because, when I use the kerfed wood approach, I seem to monkey around getting the right height for the tooth above the wood, not banging things out of place getting into the vice, etc.
I find it good as you do not have to keep moving saw vice to accommodate length of a longer saw. A piece about your approach to saw sharpening would be very welcome, Richard, particularly the smaller dovetail, tenon and carcass saws. Looking forward to your development of the vise and discussion of saw-sharpening techniques.
The vise I use is a copy shown by Tage Frid in one of his books and has served well for twenty years. I am now fed up with the noise and dust of power tool and have now reverted back to hand tools. His version had a more pronounced tapering in the 2 uprights and was (as a previous poster sudgested) slightly cambered along the 2 blades to get a solid clamp all the way accross.
If you want to know how to sharpen a hand saw, you first have to have the right sharpening tools.

Through everyday use, damage, or improper sharpening the teeth of a saw become different heights, This difference in tooth height means that the taller teeth are the ones cutting while the shorter teeth get skipped over – this can make using the saw difficult. The teeth of a hand saw blade have what is called a set; this is the distance that the saw tooth is bent away from the saw blade.
Different hand saws require different files for sharpening; the type of file you need is determined by the points per inch (or PPI) of your hand saw. The length of the file is also important – a 4 inch Double Extra Slim Taper can be used to sharpen smaller teeth than a 6 inch Double Extra Slim Taper. My bench vise is already about two feet long, and the saw jointer looks the same as what I built to square my cabinet scrapers with – you just turn it upside-down. This is one of those things that I have always wondered how I could do it on my own without having to send my saws off to someone to have it done.
I would also appreciate an honest critique and any tips to help improve my abilities, I'd really like to get good at this. It was simply a piece of wood as long as the saw with a kerf cut in to it to about ninety percent of its depth so that the saw could be slotted in place. After a quick test the other day I realised what a dream it is to use compared to the rudimentary one I was trained on, and being able to rely only on the wedged shape for clamping is the sort of clever simplicity which I enjoy.
When I showed this find to my old man to impress him with its uniqueness he just shrugged and said he’d seen loads like it – typical that he never thought to tell me! Is it two unconnected pieces of timber shaped at one end to receive the saw handle plus two sloped housings? It looks like you just line things up in the sandwich, jam it into the slots, and off you go.
I don’t like that the jaws are so short so you must move the saw a few times to keep good support. In a world of disposable saws and cutting devices we are perhaps a generation who has forgotten how to sharpen a saw! Very therapeutic to use and instead of chippings and dust you get shavings and the lovely sound of peace and quiet so you can hear yourself think. Very effective and interestingly a universal solution for all of the guys I worked with- from many countries. A quality file is important, bargain files are not durable or hard enough to produce a truly sharp hand saw blade that will keep its sharp edge for many cuts. I think for about the cost of one sharpening, I could buy the files I need to do this all on my own.
Where did you find a saw jointer and that nifty handle for holding saw files, had to be an auction? If you know Joel he makes a good case for these methods having been much more common in the past.

I’d love to hear about the different quirks of the saw vices you use, have you got a trusty arrangement which you love? You make a saw sandwich, then drop the sandwich into the parallel slot in which you have your fingers in the upper photo? The nice thing about the kerfed wood approach is that it takes zero storage space and, when I lose it, I can make another quickly (although I always seem to lose it when all my rip saws are dull).
Like you, as an apprentice it was simply two bits of wood clamped into a vice to hold your saw and off you went a sharpening. Since the invention of the most basic hand saw this tool has evolved into many different types: two man felling saws, rip saws, crosscut saws, dovetail saws, tenon saws, carcass saws, Japanese hand saw and the list goes on and on. The mill file mounts to the inside of the jointer, the jointer body helps to keep the mill file square to the saw blade.
To set the teeth of your saw, start at the heel (by the handle) and bend every other tooth to the right, then come back and bend the teeth you skipped over to the left. I just got a new Gramercy saw vise and saw files which I am in the process of setting up in some sort of mobile sharpening station in my shop.
Chris Griggs and I have been playing around with saws with combo filed teeth and finding them very useful. Does the frame with the slot reach to the floor and you support it in the vice, or does it just clamp in the vice without reaching the floor? But, if I must (and it feels that way), it interrupts the rhythm and I lose track of which tooth I’m on. There are differences and similarities between all of the different types of hand saws but one thing that they all have in common is that all hand saw types have to be sharp to work properly.
An easy solution to this is to make your own; two pieces of wood long enough for your saw blade and a bench top vise are all you need . To use the saw jointer, simply place the jointer against the saw and run it along the blade once; when done all of the teeth should have a very small flat spot on the top. If you make hand saw blade sharpening part of your regular woodworking hand tools maintenance, you will find that all your cutting tasks will go much faster, smoother and more accurately. If not, run the saw jointer along the blade as many times as necessary to get the tops of every tooth flat – make sure to inspect after each pass to prevent over flattening the teeth. For rip saws the file will travel perpendicular to the saw blade, the teeth of a crosscut saw will be filed at a 75 to 80 degree angle to the saw blade. In fact, I think the top edge should also have a slight bow (front to back) to, once again, ensure a tight pinch along the entire length of the clamp.

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