Reducing the set on my tenon saw – Part II (Cutting Teeth)

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This post forms part of the “Reducing the set on my tennon saw” series.

It was a busy day today. I popped into Nubco (a local trade supplier) who had several Pferd saw files. I think they were all a little big, but got the smallest one they had.

First things first I undressed the saw so that the surgeon had ready access to all the bits as required.

It was now time to trim some excess flesh from the saw. Using Ian’s technique, I clamped the blade between two pieces of angle iron, and used a 1 mm cut-off wheel on my angle grinder. The angle was a little large though, so had to angle the cutting wheel to get to the saw plate. This made a bit of a mess. I tried cleaning it up with a file, but that would take a long time, so put a flap disk on my angle grinder, and raised the plate just proud of the angle iron and used it as a fence. This got the saw plate edge beautifully straight, and with a lovely polished edge to boot! And before anyone asks, no, I didn’t use my spirit level to grind against, it was the only way I could get a good contrasting background (I guess that’s why SBS uses yellow subtitles).

At this point I thought I’d may as well give the plate a clean up. I didn’t know if I’d have a workable saw afterwards, but also assuming that if I did, I’d not want to be messing with W&D after I’d sharpened it. As such I hedged my bets and cleaned it up with 240 W&D, but didn’t bother with polishing.

Now onto preparing the teeth. I used the Paul Sellers’ method. I thought I’d be clever and use some skirting board profile to make the guide from. The only problem was that being Tas Oak, it’s a bit splintery, and the narrow edge was damaged quite easily (I won’t be able to use it again). I’ll make another one from spotted gum, which should offer some more longevity. The other mistake I made was to use a hacksaw blade to mark my guide. I will use a ruler the next time. It was hard to be accurate with the hacksaw blade marks. I prepared a new hacksaw blade by grinding off the front teeth, and “ramping up” to the full teeth as described and set about cutting the notches in the plate. I was surprised how well this worked. My notches were a near exact match to my template.

I was now up to the stage I was dreading; filing the teeth. Disregarding the fact that the first two teeth are backwards, it went very well, and before I was half way though, I was actually enjoying myself. All that worry for nothing. I set up a low light behind the plate so that the flat facets on the top of the teeth were obvious. Without the light proved near impossible to gauge my progress. The photo below is from my first pass, before I went over them again. After that it was time for my saw to get dressed again, so that I could take it for a test run.

The result? Well it certainly cuts better than it ever has. The kerf is nice and narrow, and it cuts straight, but then I guess you’d expect that with no set. There is one section about half way down the plate where it resists. As in the cut goes smooth-catch/drag-smooth. I’ve looked, tried to re-shape the teeth to be more uniform etc, but just can’t get rid of the drag. I’ve run the block of W&D down both sides to make sure there weren’t any burs that were catching. Nothing. I’ve added a photo of the troublesome area in case someone else can identify the issue.

So how do I feel at the end of the day? I feel like saw sharpening has been demystified. I’m rubbish at it right now (some teeth look like they’ve come direct from an old hag’s mouth), but am keen to work at it and get better. I’ll do some more reading over the coming days and perhaps have another go at jointing and re-sharpening.

Next up, make a nicer handle, and find a tool to set the teeth a little. I don’t know that i’m quite at the saw-with-no-set skill level

May 2019

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