Restoring a jeweler’s saw

Fellow woodworkers, did you know that a jeweler's saw (fret saw) is not just for jewelers? This revelation was brought to me two or three years ago after I saw how Rob Cosman used a Jeweler's saw to cut dovetails. Intuitively, we tend to think that the copping is the only saw to cut curves in wood, but the truth is that a jeweler's saw can often do this job faster and more effectively than the copping saw.

My saw arrived as part of the tool lot that I won on ebay. It was covered with rust and look like this:

In cases when the rust is not that heavy I tend to use Naval Jelly rust remover. Naval Jelly dissolves rust sufficiently, but it works slowly and requires multiple applications in cases where the rust layer is heavy. Looking at my saw I recognized that if I want to remove restore the rust in a jiffy I will have to rely on sand paper and a few instrumental sanding blocks.

The makeshift miniature sanding blocks that I made will ensure that the sand paper will work as flat at possible. This way the sand paper scratch marks will look uniform.  Plus, I will refrain from rounding over the corners along the saw's arm. In other words, sanding blocks gives you more control. On the wodden handle I used free style sand paper and rubber backed sand paper.

I sanded the saw with coarse paper and then polished it with a 400 grit wet-dry paper followed by a coat of light Renaissance wax. As you can see I did not remove all the patina from the handle – I think it looks nicer this way. Only after I cleaned the rust could I start to appreciate the beauty of my saw.  The arm was machined from one stock of steel and its details are absolutely superb. I gave it a test run on some oak and it cut through it like butter!

Here is Rob Cosman explaining how to use a saw like this to cut dovetails. 



American Woodworker Blog
Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.