Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saw Binding in the Cut

I only have one cross-cut backsaw.  It came with my old house that I bought about 20 years ago.  It's a 12" Spear and Jackson with 12 tpi.  It's nothing special and I've been making do with it for as long as I've been working with had tools, all the while hoping to come across a better saw at a garage sale or Craigslist.
The Spear & Jackson
I've worked on this saw to get it in decent condition, sharpening with 14° rake and 20° fleam.  And I set the teeth to about 0.033" total set whereas the plate is 0.026" thick.
Saw plate 0.026" thick
But recently it has been binding in the cut.  Sometimes I get caught up in my projects and don't take the time to think about a problem like this.  I'm sure most of you have already guessed what the problem was.  When I finally got around to investigating the saw, I found this.
Total set of teeth was 0.027"!!
I have no idea how I lost the set on the teeth, but almost all of the set was gone!  Well, I guess it was time to sharpen and re-set the teeth.  I've been sharpening my own saws for a few years now and though I've gotten OK at it, I still have a lot of work to do.
See any problems here?
The teeth on the right in the picture above are fairly even.  But the teeth on the left are "cows and calves".  I haven't had this problem when sharpening rip saws, but when fleam is added to the mix it gets more tricky.  The heights of all the teeth are the same, so I got that going for me.  But the gullets are another story.  Fortunately I enjoy don't mind sharpening saws.

Well, back to the original problem.  I re-set the teeth before final sharpening and with a little rubbing of the sides of the teeth on a diamond stone I managed to get a very consistent set of 0.032" to 0.033".
That's more like it!
And now the saw cuts like it should.  What a pleasure it is to have a saw slice through the wood.

The moral of the story: when your tools are not performing properly, take the time to check them out. It could save you lots of time and headache later.


  1. Amen,now I just have to put it into practice.

    1. Haha! I've gotta remember my own advise more often than not.

  2. I think we are all guilty of a bit of tool neglect from time to time. Especially those of us for whom this is a hobby. Time in the shop is limited and we want to be working on projects not maintaining tools. Ironically, if we are disciplined in our tool maintenance, we can get more done.
    I've gotten better about sharpening at the first hint of the edge degradation, but still regress to my old ways at times.

    1. I've been getting better about sharpening, too. I think that people who are new to hand work need to know up front that tool maintenance is a part of the deal. It's just that it takes a fair amount of experience before you know when the tools need work.