Chris Schwarz's Blog

Highly Recommended: Gramercy 14" Saw Vise

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

7 thoughts on “Highly Recommended: Gramercy 14" Saw Vise

  1. roger tumbleson

    Chris, For nearly fifty years my Stover Mfg Co saw vise has served me well and still clamps tight as a bear trap.
    But the Gramercy looks like o good one.
    Roger

  2. Gordon Conrad

    Chris,
    Agree that all should be able to sharpen our own saws. Thanks to my own initiative, Pete Taran’s site and the last WIA sessions on saws, I am now sharpening my own saws. Living in New England vintage saw vices frequently show up at auctions and yard sales for about $5 to $10. I use a Henry Disston & Sons No. 1 for my sharpening for which I paid $15. If I had known that you were having a problem with your Wentworth, I would have sent you a vintage Sargent which worked well for me, but that has been sold at the last tailgate sesssion at a local tool auction. As I’m 66 in 12 days, the Disston will last me the rest of my life. Keep up the great blogs.
    r/ Gordon

  3. John Cashman

    I’ve had mine for a while, and have learned more about sharpening saws since I’ve had it than in all the years before. It locks up rock solid, and there is zero vibration when filing.

    I had bought five antique saw vises over a couple of decades, and a Wentworth was my favorite. But it had so many problems I put off using it from shear frustration. Considering all the money I put into the antiques, the Gramercy is a bargain.

    I’m a little concerned about the raw steel. My shop is below grade, and chances are I will get some rust. But I’m also too busy to do anything about it until it rears its ugly head.

  4. Mike Siemsen

    Chris,
    I liked mine well enough to blog about it too. The fact that I only have to move the saws once is a big plus. I must say that I couldn’t see the sense of leaving it unpainted so I took it apart, wiped it down with lacquer thinner and sprayed it with some rustoleum bronze metal finish. I also added a handle. I have a Wentworth too and I like it, but the new one is worth the price.
    Mike

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