In Arts & Mysteries

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This weekend, I’m hosting a SAPFM get together. A few fellow period woodworkers are going to crowd into my tiny workshop and see how and why I make my own hand saws.

Of all the really esoteric things I do, making hand saws may top the list of esoterica. I get really wrapped around the proverbial axle by the intricacies of saw teeth, handle designs and blade shapes. I’m shamefully familiar with saw history, and the many permutations of modern saws and makers. Fortunately, my shop is tiny because I can;t imagine filling with woodworkers similar excited about hand saws.
br> But for me, tool making is a necessity. I can’t generally buy what I need. And the attention I’ve paid to each little attribute of my hand saws is really just a continuation of what we all do as period woodworkers.

I suspect as we continue to move forward as a community that tool making will take on an increasing role in our work. Many of us may find it necessary to make tools. Others will undoubtedly find it necessary to rely on those who do. Whatever the case, better, more accurate work requires increasingly better and more accurate tools.

I don’t think I could look you in the eye and tell that you I started making tools willingly. I did so begrudgingly. But its not been without its rewards and I can see how someone could get as addicted to tool making as I am to furniture making.

– Adam

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Showing 7 comments
  • Eric Barnes

    If you ever do decide to publish information on saw making, I would be interested. The historical period I’m interested in is medieval, and finding tools for that period is difficult. Unless they happen to be very similar to modern tools.
    Thanks for the wonderful articles.

  • Adam Cherubini

    I’m not ready to write about saw making. I’ve only made a dozen or so saws. I can say that saw making is difficult, requires some special skills and equipment to do efficiently, and really great saws are available so inexpensively, that I’m hard pressed to suggest this is a worthwhile expenditure of one’s time and effort. Mike Wenzloff sells saws that take me an entire day to build and perhaps $40 of materials. His saws are roughly half the price of a new LN plane. In the early 18th c, Charles Plumley paid at least 4 times that for his saws. His saws tied with his plow as the most expensive tool in his shop.

    My goal for the saw talk was to introduce saw making for people who wanted to try it, or perhaps more usefully, encourage folks to rehab their saws, or choose new saws wisely.

    I use commercial 1095 hardened spring steel for my saws. Cutting and grinding this material can be challenging. It’s expensive and can easily be ruined by overheating. Its produced by a rolling mill and is never flat enough for a saw. It must be planished flat on a polished anvil.

    I want to encourage you all, but I don’t want to make light of this either. This is tricky stuff that requires experimentation and the development of skills and equipment you may never need again. I made my kenyon saws long before Mike Wenz went into business. If I could have bought my saws, I would have. 8 saws are really plenty for me. When you think about it, all the hand saws you’ll likely ever need are cheaper than a single cabinetsaw.

    Build saws if you want to build saws. But its probably not an efficient use of your time and money.


  • Charles-William Roy

    Hi Adam,

    I’ve seen it on the Norse Woodsmith website.

    Sure would like to see how you do it…

    Could you tell us which steel do you use?


  • Iain Aitken

    Even better, it would be awesome if along with photos you could write an article or blog post on how you make your saws, what tools and materials you use, etc, etc.

  • Roderick Drumgoole

    It would be great if someone took pictures as you’re making the saw and you posted them here next week for our encouragement and of course your thoughtful words of wisdom.


  • Kevin

    Ever since I held your dovetail saw at The Designer Craftsmen Show I’ve been inspired. My goodness a tool that really fit my hand.
    I have since bought the Gramercy tool dovetail saw kit and am shaping the handle. It looks like I’ll be making new handles for all my saws.
    I’ve made small tools in the past and looks like I’ll be making more in the future.

  • Eric

    I think that’s very cool. I’d love to get into toolmaking, whether planes or saws. I wonder what the cost is of the materials needed to make saw? Probably a mere fraction of the price of the finished product, I’d guess.

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