Archive for the 'Hand Saws' Category


Episode 8 – Saws

On Saws

I recently started evaluating my saw till, the one I keep in my Joiner’s tool box.  As I was pulling the individual saws out and looking at them, I began to realize that I couldn’t remember when I had bought most of them.  Not a few, one or two, but… In fact, I could only readily account for the one my dad gave me when I was in junior high.  That deserves a good “sheesh.”


A cool Disston D-8 thumbhole

Saws are an intoxicant for many Galoots, and it seems clear that I’m no exception.  (I deny that I have a problem, however.  I can stop any time I want.)  In this week’s episode we take a look at what a hand saw is, as opposed to a Hand Saw, and examine many of the forms saws take.  An excellent “old tools” example is the very cool Disston D-8 from the late part of the 1800’s shown to the right.  It features a “thumbhole,” and no, it’s not for a Schützenfest.  Although you would have to have perhaps more primal anatomy than I have to actually put a thumb through that hole, it was intended as an aid to sawing two-handed.  This feature is only found on rip saws.  At the other end of the spectrum is the

Lie-Nielsens' dovetail saw

Lie-Nielsens' dovetail saw

compartively diminutive dovetail saw.  This saw holds my fascination for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its intense practicality and ability to do what it was made for.  I don’t own a LN (yet), but the one I have was  made by Independence Tools, a partnership between Pete Taran and Patrick Leach (two of the early Old Tools Listserv members.)  When the two decided that they didn’t want to make saws anymore, they sold the patterns and rights to LN, who made a few minor mods, and viola! a star is born.

I’m also becoming a huge fan of the bow saw, having recently built a “turning saw.”  These are saws (bow, turning, frame) that seem to be increasing in interest right now, which is a very good thing.  Incredibly practical for bench work, easy to build and maintain (and make look nice,) the bow saw is a vital component of the Galoot’s tool chest.  Here are some really good annotated links to saw information.

Gramercy Tools: Joel Moskowitz and his crew are some really great people, and Joel has an extensive knowledge of tools and how they work.  They are now manufacturing bow saw kits and parts (turning saws) that are of very high quality.  The rest of their site is full of tool eye candy, too!

Wenzloff and Sons: I had the opportunity to meet Mike Wenzloff and to speak with him while we were in Berea.  You would expect someone who is working in the family saw making business to be knowledgeable about saws, but this is the new millenium — you don’t expect Mike to be so enthusiastic about saws and saw making!  WAS is producing some of the finest historical reproduction saws on the market, and of course they are using modern metallurgy and techniques.  Nontheless, these are not mass-produced saws, and I want a specimen of all of them!  Browse!

Lie-Nielsen: Awe, c’mon.  You KNEW I was going to say that, anyway.  The link is to their saw page, which is as far as I’m concerned, a cut above (ba dum bump.)  LN is manufacturing a new “progressive pitch” dovetail saw that I’m going to need to check out in the near future.  Enter at your own risk.

Veritas/Lee Valley: Robin Lee has introduced a radical new dovetail saw with a synthetic back that integrates into the handle.  I’ve heard nothing but positive things about this saw, and the demo model they had at Woodworking In America was always in someone else’s hands whenever I tried to get to it.  I’m finding the aesthetics for many of Robin’s tool offerings to be very progressive (as in, uncomfortable for a history buff) but functionally at least as good as anything else out their, and often far superior to what our predecessors worked with.  I wonder what Duncan Phyfe would say.

Vintage Saws: Never content to rest, Pete Taran has NOT dropped off the radar screen, but continues to play in the world of saws.  Pete isn’t just someone who sells saws, but he is actually a tremendous resource about the tools he sells.  He has reprinted a number of articles he authored as a contributing editor to the Fine Tool Journal, and they are full of excellent information on Disston saws and their typology, care and feeding.

Disstonian Institute: Going back into the recesses of OldTools Listerv history, we find a ubiquitous name… Ralph Brendler.  Ralph was one of the earliest of Galoots, a longtime and much beloved listmom, and a curator of historical information on marking guages and Disston saws, among other things.  He began a legacy that Jay Sutherland continued and caused to flourish, and this is the link.  Make sure you’re in a comfortable chair; it reminds you of college days, only better because it’s a lot more interesting.

If you haven’t seen this yet, you need to.  This is Frank Klausz, cutting a set of well-fitting dovetails in just about 3 minutes.  Click here to go to the video!

And of course, here is the podcast!


Thanksgiving for a Galoot

This Thanksgiving my parents were unable to travel as they usually do, so we chose to travel back to my “home.”  This gave me the opportunity to sort of browse around Daddy’s shop with new (post-WIA 2008) eyes and rediscover some old familiar tools.  Lots of fun, and with the emphasis on interesting back saws in Galootdom right now, it seems natural that I should study the three in the old tool cabinet. Have a listen:

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