ZoSharp, LLC

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Stay Sharp


Date: 1/13/2016 12:18:39 AM

Hand Saws


The two types of handsaws are the Crosscut and the Rip saw. They both use the same means to determine how they cut through the wood.  Most homeowners will have only the crosscut style in their arsenal of DIY tools. Very people have a use for the ripsaw as it is much faster to set up a power saw to make the usually longer cuts along the length of a board.

The number of teeth per inch or TPI will determine how the saw will cut. Generally the more TPI the finer the cut will be, as there are more teeth cutting the grain in the wood at any given time. This is important as the finer the cut the less sanding will be needed to clean the cut edge of the wood on finer wood working projects. Since ripping a piece of wood is along the grain less TPI are needed to go through the wood.

Each tooth is filed to a point, with the leading edge being around 15 degrees and the trailing edge at about 30 degrees. This will give a 45 degree angle at the very bottom of the tooth or gullet. The file must be held to maintain a 15 degree angle along the face of the leading edge. Using a taper file of correct size will create a parallel angle along the trailing edge of the tooth in front of it. This will also give a point at the top of 15 degrees from one side to the other as well as do.wn both edges. The angles are alternated every other tooth to give each leading edge a sharp edge to the outside of the blade. When done correctly if you look down the edge of the blade you will see a slight valley down the center of the blade.

The saw also needs to be set properly or it will bind when you are using it. Each tooth needs to be bent slightly at the tip. Again this alternates from side to side. The bevel on the leading edge is bent outward so that the center of the bevel is facing the inside of the blade. In this way the outside of the beveled leading edge will cut the strands in the grain. Again if you look down the edge of the blade you will see that the teeth are alternating from side to side with the inside edge of each tip in direct line with the rest of them creating a flare just wider than the body of the blade. The set in the teeth must be the same from side to side or the saw will tend to drift toward the side with the greater set. This will make it impossible to make a straight cut along your mark line.  A light rub with a honing stone like those used for knife sharpening along the side the saw drifts to should help with this problem.

When the saw is sharpened correctly, it takes very little effort to more it back and forth while cutting the wood. The weight of the saw will advance it down while you push and pull. It should never need to be forced deeper into the wood. The needle points on the teeth do the actual cutting and the rest of the top cleans the dust out of the kerf. The blade should cut in a nice straight line with very little effort.

When the blade is clean and free of rust, it will glide through the wood. Anything that is stuck to the side of the blade will have an effect on the performance. Surface rust can be enough to cause the side of the blade to drag when cutting.  A light rub with steel wood will clean most if not all of this off. Most saws today have a Teflon coating that helps keep rust at bay. Glue spilled on the blade will also cause the saw to become hard to use. Anything tuck to the side of the blade that will rub on the inside of the cut will make the saw more difficult and less desirable to use.

When the teeth start to break off, or become extremely rounded from hitting metal in the wood, the saw may need to be re-toothed. Doing this by hand is very time consuming and can be very frustrating as each tooth must be filed to the same size and shape. Sharpening services that do handsaws will have the tools needed to created new teeth, then file and set them so they are back to new condition. Saw with broken teeth need to be taken down to the lowest point where the metal is broken. This means that the width of the blade will be narrower by the distance from the highest tooth to the bottom of the lowest break. It will not affect how the saw functions, just that it will not be as wide as it was originally.

If you have any questions about your hand saws please feel free to send us an e-mail and we will get back with you. As always Happy Cutting.