Monday, August 12, 2019

Saw sharpening - First hands on experience

Few weeks ago I got my hands on a saw vise in correct condition but since then it was resting in my workshop waiting for some time for me to set it up and play with it. This weekend was the right moment.

I don't know exactly the brand of this vise but it is very similar looking to Wentworth saw vise.

This saw vise is looking like a Wentworth.

I made a simple wood support to fix it to my workbench at the desired height, low enough to allow me to look over it if standing up and high enough so I can sit on a stool to sharpen a saw.

My saw vise setup.
Before starting anything I read a lot of things regarding saw sharpening, from different sources, included some writings from Daryl Weir from who I got some really sharp saws.

In order to play safe my first try was a rip saw as crosscut saw teeth are more complex to sharpen. I selected a Disston D8 that I got for few bucks to play with.

Looking at it, it was clear and obvious that the teeth, while in good shape, were not of the same size at all so my first step was to use a file and a Veritas file holder for jointing the saw teeth.

Using the Veritas file holder for jointing the saw teeth.
After a dozen of strokes the teeth were showing a shiny flat tip.

Jointing the teeth to the same height.
That saw got 10 tpi to I selected a 6 inches X-slim taper file to sharpen it.
To set and control the file angle I used the Veritas saw file holder.

Before starting I set the saw blade so only a minimal part was protruding above the saw vise.

The saw blade set in the vise.
I started to stroke each other teeth from right to left (so from the heel to the tip), 3 strokes per teeth. It took me around 15 minutes to reach the saw tip. Then I switched the saw in the vise and did the same to the remaining teeth. Overall it took me 30 to 45 minutes to complete the whole blade.

Not easy to take a picture of the saw teeth!
After trying the saw I am pretty happy with it but I need more practice before trying to sharpen a crosscut saw. It was a nice experience and I have a bunch of backsaws that needs to be sharpened to improve my skills, much more fun ahead.
Some lessons learned while sharpening that saw was that first I prefer to do it standing on my feet so I can look to the saw from above. Second, a small level on the Veritas saw file holder would be a great addition as an easy way to visually check that it is handled correctly.


  1. Well, that's great Lionel. Sharpening your own saws is very satisfying and keeps you working with all sharp tools, not only sharp chisels and plane irons. I've been sharpening my saws for 5-6 years now and I wouldn't say I'm great at it, but good enough at it. And I still need a lot more work on cross-cut saws. Good for you!

    1. Indeed it is satisfying to be able to do it by my own. I was really expecting this to be more difficult, even for a rip saw. Only thing I did not like is the sound of the file on the saw blade, was kinda like nails on a black board, and that is not something you can do in discretion while your other half is sleeping :)

    2. One thing I've noticed about the screeching noise is that if I keep the saw very low in the vise it will help, as the saw plate can't flex as much. Also, an old file will make horrible noise - new files can be much quieter. Unfortunately, you can't get decent files anymore, so the new files get old rapidly.

  2. Did you have any problems with the springs or the jaws?