If you own a saw that has a “nib,” a decorative nipple-looking thing on the toe of your saw, someone will ask you what it’s for.
The best answer is: It’s decorative.
But that doesn’t stop woodworkers from coming up with uses for it. Here are two good ones.
1. As a place to tie on your saw’s “keeper.” When I travel with handsaws that aren’t in a tool chest I protect their teeth with some sort of wooden guard. Some of these keepers clip on. Some of them fit with friction. The best way I have found to secure a keeper is to tie it to the saw.
One string goes through the keeper and through the saw’s tote. The other string goes through the keeper and behind the nib. If the saw doesn’t have a nib, the string tends to slip off easily.
2. Use the nib as a makeshift compass. Carpenter Carl Bilderback showed me this trick. You first drive a nail or screw at the centerpoint of the arc or circle you wish to draw. Place the saw’s nib against the nail or screw. Place a pencil into the gullet of one of the teeth of the saw.
With one hand push the pencil around. With the other hand push the nib against the nail. After a few trials you’ll get the hang of it.
I’ve tried some of the less ridiculous uses for the nib (using it to score an edge to prevent splintering, filing it into a tooth for various reasons), but these are the only two uses that I actually would use.
— Christopher Schwarz
Want to learn to sharpen your handsaws? Check out this DVD from Ron Herman. There are many ways to sharpen saws; I have found Herman’s methods appeal to a lot of beginners. Check it out at shopwoodworking.com.