Before the almighty chainsaw, handsaws ruled the roost, and in many ways they still do. Chainsaws are limited and more dangerous when in the act.
But, handsaws have been around since carpenters and they’ve grown and adapted together in the woodworking and construction trade.
A good handsaw can be passed down through generations, becoming somewhat of a family heirloom. You have to protect your saw, giving it a good home, storing it somewhere that isn’t wet or damp.
You also may want to maintain the saw with a good wipe with machine oil from time to time, this is also good for your saw.
Over time when sawing away the teeth will get dull from all that hard work and the saw will usually bind. But, lo-and-behold, it is no magicians trick to sharpen a saw and you can easily do so, with the correct tools and a little care, your saw will be back to its old self in no time.
- To sharpen your saw you will need a saw set and a taper file or two, these come in different sizes, so make sure to check which size you will need, this is done by determining the number of teeth per inch on the saw. You may also need a saw vice and a saw jointer.
- Next, you will want to check for rust, you can’t have that setting in. Easily remove the rust with sandpaper or a wire brush.
- Now we check the teeth, check if they are all the same height. No? Well, then we are going to have to perform something called jointing, simply clamp the saw into a saw vice, using wooden blocks and a blackboard to hold the spine of your saw rigid.
- Now you will want to file at these teeth until they are uniform in height. You will want to use a smooth-cut, metal file for this. You want to be careful, so after every pass of the file, check the saw blade to be cautious of over filing.
- Once your teeth are aligned in height, you need to check the kerf is the proper width. To elaborate, the saw has a set, this is the distance from which the teeth are bent away from the saw blade. The set will keep a kerf wide, to prevent the saw from binding. The saw set will make this job easier for you. It somewhat resembles a set of pliers, having long handles and a jaw at the end. When you press the set against the teeth it will bend the tooth to the appropriate angle for that kind of saw.
- Setting a saw could be done without this tool, but it is easier with the tool. The teeth need to be bend from the middle, and each tooth must be even to prevent uneven cuts. The bend should not be any more than half the depth of the tooth. You should start by the handle and work your way up, bending every other tooth to the right and then come back, bending any teeth you missed, to the left. Try to exert the same pressure for each tooth when you squeeze to set, this will give you the greatest accuracy.
- Next, filing. Now you will need to file the teeth, remember the taper files we mentioned? Well, its time for those now. A small taper file will sharpen the teeth of saws with fine or coarse teeth, whereas bigger taper files will sharpen larger toothed saws more efficiently. A taper file is 360 degrees, so the file will adequately sharpen the teeth of your saw, the one you are filing and the one in front or behind, with its triangular form.
- Clamp your saw in your saw vice, clamp it no more than a quarter of an inch from the jaw of your saw, to ensure the blade is held rigid while you work. Again, start at the heel, and push the file across the cutting edge of the teeth.
Once you have done all these steps, with patience and precision, your saw should you back to normal and sawing perfectly once again.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when sharpening your hand saw.
As each saw is different you want to ensure that the equipment you use to sharpen it, is to the correct specifications of the saw.
Picking the right file: There is a wide variety of taper files for your saw, you want to ensure you get the correct one for your saw for the best quality. You can get single or double cut files, and there is no right or wrong with what is best, it is your choice. You want to measure teeth per inch and select the appropriate file; regular tapers are good for medium levels of coarseness or 8-10 teeth per inch, medium-fine for around 11-14 teeth per inch and if your saw had 15 or more teeth per inch, then extra-slim is best.
Choosing the right taper file is important, so before you buy a taper file, count the teeth per inch so you know which taper file to buy.
Understanding the saw set: Resembling a set of pliers is the saw set, this is what you use to straighten your saw’s teeth. It had a pair of long handles at the end, with a pair of jaws at the other end and a pivot in the middle.
Near the jaws, there is a rotating disk, that when turned will adjust the travel of the set. This basically means that the plunger and anvil, mounted on the set are closer together or farther apart when the handles are squeezed.
Congratulations, you now know how to sharpen your hand-saw. Time to get sawing!
Looking for A Hand Saw for Cutting Trees? Read our reviews here.