Bowsaw Basics

Why should you own a bowsaw? Why not? You have many other tools that you use only when you need them. Seriously, if you make 18th-century-style furniture, or you make furniture with hand tools, you should own a couple of bowsaws.

In my shop, which has all the machines you can imagine, I use bowsaws. If I cut dovetails in material thicker than 1/2″, I reach for my bowsaw. I keep my material behind my shop in a pole barn. If I have to crosscut a board for one piece, the fastest way is with a bowsaw. I put the board on a couple horses, cut it, put the leftover back on the rack and take the piece in the shop. There’s no extension cord or machine to put away.

<b>Old methods work best.</b> New bowsaws are tensioned with a rod and thumbscrews, but I prefer twine and a toggle. The loose end is wrapped around and through the twine to hold it in place.

Old methods work best. New bowsaws are tensioned with a rod and thumbscrews, but I prefer twine and a toggle. The loose end is wrapped around and through the twine to hold it in place.

In my native Hungary, I grew up without electricity. Therefore in the shop, the bowsaw was the main tool used for crosscutting, ripping, dovetailing, for mortise-and-tenon joinery and more.

My father came for a visit to the United States in 1974, and he spent some time working with me in my shop. He started looking for the frame saws. I told him, “Sorry Dad, this is America; we cut wood with machines.”

One thought on “Bowsaw Basics

  1. No_Chatter

    Watching Frank cuts his dovetails with two frame saws was very enlightening! Are the saws described here the same ones used in his video from your online shop classes? I would like to get a set, and/or build my own. Much appreciate the fine info you all provide. Thanks

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