Tool Test – Gramercy Tools Bowsaw

From December 2006 Popular Woodworking

As a devoted band saw user, I’ve always resisted the bowsaw, which was used by early American and English woodworkers to cut curves. My problem with the modern manufactured bowsaws was that they were difficult to steer, they cut slowly and were unbalanced.

The new 12″ bowsaw from Gramercy Tools, however, is another animal entirely. The first time I used it was like the first time I used a premium handplane , it was an almost religious experience. Thanks to the saw’s sharp and narrow blade, its featherweight frame and its remarkable balance, the saw absolutely flies through your work, tracks a line and is so balanced that you use it one-handed.
Like all my favorite tools, this bowsaw seems almost psychic and anticipates where I want to go and what I want to do.


So what’s the secret? It’s the details. Unlike other manufactured bowsaws, this one is lightweight at only 12.4 ounces (other saws that I’ve weighed tip the scales at 22.2 ounces). With this type of saw, every ounce counts.The hickory frame is nicely sculpted in all the right places and even has a recess up by the handle for your index finger, which is one of the reasons the saw is easy to steer with just one hand. The toggle that tightens the fishing line at top is easy to tension and release.

The blades themselves are also special. While some bowsaws use scrap band saw blades, the Gramercy uses thin blades ( 1/8″ wide at most) that are made like a coping saw blade with integral pins. Other bowsaws have separate pins that get lost or are tricky to remove. The Gramercy bowsaw comes with three blades: 24, 18 and 10 tpi.
The saw is worth every bit of its $140 price tag, but you can cut that price by purchasing a kit that includes the blades and brass fittings for $26 and then download the free plans for the saw from the company’s web site (it’s an easy one-day project to build).

– Christopher Schwarz

More information on the bowsaw from Gramercy Tools