Mike’s saw sharpening

Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Blog, Student Gallery | No Comments

Mike has attended a number of my courses, in April he came on the Saw Sharpening course which is taught by the saw maker Shane Skelton of Skelton Saws. Mike recently emailed me with an update on his saw sharpening activities. It just shows what you can do after some of Shanes expert tuition, so I thought I would reproduce it here verbatim.

Hi Shane and Chris,

After my Sharpening course back in March, I Just thought I’d give you an update on my saw sharpening journey!

I’ve made myself a saw vice – cobbled together from a few examples on the internet and it seems to work pretty well. It brings the saw up to a good working level.

Saw sharpening vice

I’ve also bought a good set of files – small Valorbe ones from Axminster and larger Bahco ones from Workshop Heaven. The handles I’ve had in the past from Axmister are small and rather pathetic so I’ve turned a couple myself. As you said, they need to be a decent size.

Saw sharpening files with turned handles

So far I’ve fettled two old saws.

I’ve sharpened my Spear and Jackson 7 tpi handsaw to crosscut (10 deg rake and 20 deg fleam)

When you see it in close-up it looks pretty ragged, but I’m really pleased with the way it cuts.

I have a new Bahco hardpoint saw 9tpi (sorry!) and my S&J cuts faster, tracks well and leaves a really clean cut.

I guess a bit more practice needed now (and perhaps a magnifying glass!)

Also I wasn’t sure what sort of set to put on it. I know you said 2.5 to 3 thou’ per side but that seemed too little for a bigger saw like this? It isn’t a posh taper ground one like yours Shane!

In the end I spotted something on the internet that suggested a total set of 20% of the plate thickness. (25-30% for softwoods) This plate was 1.1mm (43 thou) so I aimed for 1.35mm total (5 thou’ per side). I ended up with about 1.4mm.

Sharpened saw teeth

The other saw I tackled was my 10″ 13tpi Tyzack Sons and Turner Dovetail saw.

I know you said it was a bit beaten up but I took the back and handle off and found the plate was fairly straight and still had good spring in it. Turned out the brass back was causing the trouble so I straightened that, squeezed the slot up tight and put it back together again. The blade is now straight and doesn’t rattle.

I’ve sharpened it to rip and got 4 thou set on each side and I’m pleased with the way it cuts.

I know it’s not a masterpiece but it has a nice balance and there’s something satisfying about using a saw that’s seen probably 100 years of hard service and is back working well again.

My main problem with this one was getting the teeth even.

More practice and I really do need that magnifying headset!

Saw after sharpening

Thanks again for the course, it was brilliant.



Shane will again be teaching saw sharpening at my Cornmill Workshop in Ilkley on 27th May. There are still places available on this course, so if you really want to get to know saw sharpening book soon.

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Thankyou, Chris.


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