In Chris Schwarz Blog, Saws, Woodworking Blogs

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When I was learning to sharpen and set saws in the 1990s, I was desperate for information. All I had was one modern book, a somewhat helpful video and the attempts I had made on my bargain basement saws. It was a slog.

While today there is a lot more information available on saws and saw sharpening, much of it is conflicting and more complex than necessary. Sharpening a saw is straightforward once someone shows you the path.

That’s why I am pleased to share this new page from Mark Harrell at Bad Axe Tool Works. It’s a complete brain dump on how to assess, restore, sharpen and maintain a backsaw (or handsaw). It doesn’t matter when the saw was made – new or vintage – or how ratty or near-perfect it is. This page shows you how to take care of the saw, keep the teeth sharp and do it all without having to get a PhD in geometry.

Here’s the page:

It’s definitely worth bookmarking. Download the pdfs, read the information and then purchase some triangular files.

Kudos to Bad Axe for putting this information out for free. Like the other great modern toolmakers of our day, such as Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley, informing the customers is a fantastic way to support the craft.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 5 comments
  • 8iowa

    A few years back I attended a demonstration on saws at the WIA. Ron Herman taught me far more than I ever knew about hand saws. Especially “jaw dropping” was his tempering the blade.

    I have several of Mark Harrel’s Bad Axe saws. If my shop were to catch on fire they would be the first things I would grab before running out the door. Someday I want to attend his sharpening class in Wisconsin.


    I have attended the saw sharpening workshop in La Crosse at the Bad Axe business location and I can testify to the remarkable skill and attention to detail that Bad Axe devotes to saw, their care, sharpening, and so on. They are all committed to excellence.

  • Tom64

    This is great! for backsaws.

    Is there something similar for handsaws, the longer ones without the back.
    I am specifically looking for information on how much of a bow or bend if any should be expected and then how to remove that bow/bend and what results I should expect.

    Is there something available out there?


  • Barquester

    Paul Sellers, “The World’s Most Famous Woodworker”, has been teaching it for awhile too.


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