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Traditional housewright Ron Herman has sharpened thousands of handsaws in his career, and now, he shares his expertise with you on a new DVD: “Sharpen Your Handsaws.”

Ron starts off by discussing the different parts of typical saws, including handle and sawplate shapes, and talks about the shape of the teeth on ripsaws and crosscut saws so you know what’s what. Then, after an introduction to the tools needed (not very many), he shows you how to joint, set and sharpen.

The ripsaw, with its almost perpendicular teeth, is the first saw in the vise. After showing you how to joint the teeth so they’re all in the same plane, Ron shows you how to shape and sharpen rip teeth, then how test the run of the saw. Then, it’s back to the vise to set the teeth – and he recommends concentrating your setting effort on the center of the saw, where most of the cutting action occurs. Too much set on one side? You’ll discover how to find out, and fix any problems. When you’re done walking through the steps, you’ll have a sharp, perfectly set ripsaw.

Then, it’s on to the crosscut saw, where Ron shows you how the sharpening process is in many ways the same for any saw – but on the crosscut saw, you’ll introduce “fleam” (a knife edge) to help the saw slice through the grain. Again, he shows you how to test the run, then make adjustments based on the results.

Ron closes the DVD with a discussion on set (How much do you really need? If there’s too much set, how do you remove it? When should you add set?), and sloped gullets (smaller backsaws, such as a dovetail saw, need the slope; the larger handsaws don’t).

After watching this DVD a few times (and OK – a bit of practice), you’ll be able to joint, set and sharpen all of your own Western handsaws and keep them in top cutting condition. Plus, you get a printable PDF primer from Ron on saws and sharpening (in case, like me, you need a written reminder every now and then on tooth configuration and shape). You’ll never again have to spend time and money sending your saws off to be sharpened!

“Sharpen Your Handsaws” is on sale for $19.99 through July 28 (20 percent off) – order your copy today.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 5 comments
  • georgebclark

    When Ron is fileing the ripsaw to remove some set it appears to me that he is fileing backwards, ie leading with the tang. The man obviously knows exactly what he is doing and I am curious as to the reason for this.

  • Andrew Yang

    I guess the cover photo is a tacit endorsement of the Gramercy saw vise?


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