Years ago Don McConnell (now with Clark & Williams plane makers) shamed me into sharpening my own saws.
He was down for a photo shoot and I mentioned that I had sent a saw out to be sharpened with some odd filing. Don stopped whatever it was he was doing and looked up at me.
“I can’t believe you don’t sharpen your own saws.”
Tail tucked between legs, I went home that night and bought saw files from Pete Taran, read his entire saw filing primer and started searching for a good saw vise on the eBay. I ended up with a Wentworth No. 8 with 10-5/8″ jaws.
Since then, I’ve progressed slowly as a saw filer. Saws don’t need as much work as planes and chisels, so my skills have been poky in coming. But I do know this: My Wentworth kinda blows chunks. It closes up tight on the left side, but not on the right. I filed the jaws a bit, tried a little leather, etc. etc. But I’ve not been able to get it right.
I’ve considered buying another vise, but I want to be able to inspect it in person and I haven’t been to a tool meet in ages. So I’ve made do with my Wentworth.
Then I saw the new Gramercy saw vise from Tools for Working Wood at the Woodworking in America conference. The sucker locked as tight as a mutant clam. I was sold.
For the last couple weeks I’ve been filing saws at home , working through my entire collection (there, I said the “c” word). The Gramercy saw vise turned my Wentworth into a bass boat anchor. The Gramercy has 14″ jaws that grip the saw so tightly that the vise and saw seem as one entity. As a result, filing with it is quieter and smoother.
I was so thrilled with it that I wore out all the saw files I had on hand.
Now let’s talk about the math. The Gramercy is $119.95, which is pricier than I’ve ever seen a vintage saw vise (my Wentworth was $25 plus about that much in shipping). And I am sure that I could find a decent working vise at the next tool swap I attended.
But I decided to buy the Gramercy and be done with it. Leif Hanson, who has more of a saw problem than I do, has also done the calculus on his blog. And he knows a lot more about saw vises than do I.
Bottom line: We all should be sharpening our own saws. And if you want to buy one lifetime saw vise that will work perfectly out of the box, the Gramercy is the way to go. Highly recommended.
- Christopher Schwarz