I’ve recently become more comfortable with the basics of saw sharpening, through a combination of Christopher Schwarz’s hands-on tutelage, Pete Taran’s awesome primer (available free on his Vintage Saws site), Ron Herman’s excellent DVD, “Sharpen Your Handsaws” and, most important, getting over my fear laziness and simply doing it.
The new Saw File Holder from Lee Valley/Veritas helped with that – I’d filed a couple times in the past using the shop-made guides that Ron recommends on his video, but when Chris took his tools home, he took his Gramercy 14″ saw vise with him. And I guess I’ve just been too lazy to build our shop-made wooden version. (It’s also arguable that I have access to too many saws, so when one is dull, there’s usually a sharp one I can grab).
But when I opened the saw file holder and knew I had to test it out for the magazine, I finally broke down and built a saw vise.
I’m lying. I went over to Chris’s house and used his Gramercy.
As I was leaving, he gave me his old Wentworth saw vise (and the spider webs in which it was swathed) – the vise on which the Gramercy design is based. Today, I finally brought it into the shop, cleaned it up with some elbow grease and WD-40, then clamped it to a board that I clamped to my bench with holdfasts. (My bench at work is 2-3/4″ thick; the clamp on the bottom of the Wentworth opens to 2-5/8″.)
I clamped a saw in the vise and took a few swipes with a file. The saw slipped.
Then I came home and fell into the rabbit hole of Internet posts on saw vises…including Christopher’s glowing review of the Gramercy, in which he says the Wentworth (the Wentworth he kindly gave to me), “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….The Gramercy saw vise turned my Wentworth into a bass boat anchor.”
But I’m not ready to give up on it (and I don’t have a bass boat), so I’m going to try what Matt Cianci (the “Sawwright”) recommends: rubber washing machine hook-up line split in half and glued in the V-shaped notch on the clamping jaws.
And if that doesn’t do it, well, I might be saving my pennies and sending them to Joel Moskowitz. I seem to have caught the saw sharpening bug. There are worse vices.