Chris Schwarz's Blog

Shannon Rogers’ Big French Saw. Dang.

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Shannon Rogers of the Hand Tool School brought along his 48”-long Roubo frame saw to the Saturday meeting of the Chesapeake chapter of the Society of American Furniture Makers, explained its details and (most importantly) let us try it out during lunch.

It was so effortless to use (as long as you used your legs to propel it) that I wanted to resaw the entire board.

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Shannon has put a lot of effort into understanding this saw and tweaking it to track a line. He found that a 4”-wide blade tracked better than a narrower one, and he worked with a blacksmith at Artisan Iron Designs to make hardware (beautiful hardware) to tension the blade.

The blade is from Blackburn Tools and closely resembles the one shown in “l’Art du Menuisier” by A.J. Roubo.

Shannon made the case that this particular saw design makes resawing by hand much easier. After trying out the saw, I completely agree. After using panel saws and frame saws with narrow blades to resaw boards, I can assure you that Shannon has this saw figured out.

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So yes, I ordered a blade from Blackburn Tools and tensioning hardware from Artisan Iron as soon as I walked back into my hotel. I’m going to make my saw from hard maple and use (sorry to ding you, Shannon) slotted screws to attach the hardware (my only aesthetic complaint about the saw).

You can watch Shannon’s saw in action in this video.

— Christopher Schwarz

16 thoughts on “Shannon Rogers’ Big French Saw. Dang.

  1. John Walkowiak

    Looks as though that hardware should come with a breast plate, to keep one from stabbing oneself.
    Chris, the antique saw I have and the few others I have seen have all had frames made of a straight grained softwood. Making one of maple would make it really heavy. But, if it was curly maple it would look mighty nice.

  2. Tom Dugan

    As another point of reference: Bill Pavlak has a new post at the Anthony Hay Shop’s blog about resawing 20″ wide mahogany with their frame saw. He says they averaged about a foot every half hour with two men on the saw. And when you go look at the pictures note the postures and compare with Roubo’s Plate 278. Same as I noted on everyone who tried Shannon’s saw on Saturday. You come to it pretty quickly and naturally.

  3. renaissancewwrenaissanceww

    Thanks for the nice write up Chris. It was nice to see you again and truly one of the best aspects of this saw was collaborating with two fine artisans. So thank you for supporting Vince at Artisan Iron Designs and Isaac at Blackburn Toolworks.

      1. renaissancewwrenaissanceww

        What is pictured above is the 4′ blade from Blackburn. So easy answer is yes. The length and width of the blade is not dependent on the hardware as you build the wooden frame to suit whatever you choose.

  4. pinkiewerewolf

    Check out Tom Fidgen’s YouTube site and Unplugged Woodshop blog. He wrote a book and shows how to make and use one of these saws along with a self made kerf plane.

  5. Bryan Robinson

    The saw was awesome, as were the presentations. I really enjoyed the meeting, and the people I met. The SAPFM meetings are a real class act and Jonathan and crew are to be congratulated for a job well done.

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