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Just Another Saw – What Are You to Look For?

I saw this Tyzak saw from the 60’s on eBay two weeks ago and bid. I bought at £10.30 and this would be a about one tenth of the price of an equivalent modern-day saw. Generally, the only difference between a secondhand saw and a new one is going to be sharpness. I have yet to buy a secondhand saw that’s sharp to my liking or standard. In this particular case the plate looked clear and rust free but not shiny-new. I knew the saw and for £15 with shipping I also knew it would be a good saw for someone I could pass it on to.

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Although I have bought all of my boys tools for woodworking and other crafts, I have been saving tools for them and putting together a better more comprehensive kit for them so that they basically have the best when I am old or gone. This Tyzak is one of those rarer finds that has aged but not through use. It’s a 10-point saw with a stained beech handle and the lacquered plate is still in full coat, so, hence, no rust! I raise this particular point because good saws can still be had at modest prices and so the thing that holds most people back from buying a saw like this is the uncertainty that they can sharpen their price-breaking saw. DSC_0019I understand this well. Most if not all of my students over the past 25 years and indeed no apprentice has ever come to me knowing how to sharpen a saw and for the main part they have never tried.
My method for sharpening is dead simple and very traditional. Most of the men I worked with kept two rip saws for long-grain ripping, one large toothed 6-point and one 8-10-point. The large saw was sharpened for ripping and ripping aggressively. No one could crosscut with this saw no matter the muscle mass at the shoulders and arms. The other saw was sharpened as I would sharpen almost all of my saws. This method is the simplest and most practical of all and can be applied to every saw up to 8-point saws. So, that means saws with teeth per inch numbered between 8-20 points per inch can be sharpened exactly the same way. Amazingly, with saws sharpened this way, you rip- and cross-cut with almost equal alacrity and it’s this factor that made the panel saw such a handy and practical saw. The method is not new and cannot be claimed by anyone in our present age and it’s called the progressive pattern. Two types of progressive patterns exist; one is where the pitch on the tooth’s front rake changes from passive at the start end of the saw to more aggressive and the other is where the tooth size changes from small to larger, again starting passive at the start end of the saw.
There is a place for the fleam-tooth pattern for teeth and I keep a 10-point saw with fleam teeth for crosscutting large sections of wood and also for working with man-made or engineered wood. Keeping a saw with this pattern of teeth saves me from buying into the disposable hard-point saws, which still wear out albeit 3-4 times more slowly. I like to use a new hard-point saw. They are well engineered and inexpensive, at first thought at least. A fleam tooth saw cuts across the grain more smoothly and leaves a smoother surface.
If this is the path for you, I will describe what I would look for when buying these three saws shortly. After that I will teach you how to sharpen them and finesse them for use. We must conquer the intimidation of sharpening saws and preserve the art in human life for generations to follow.

6 Comments

  1. António Henrique on 28 December 2013 at 11:42 am

    I’m looking forward to it!
    That’s handicap for me, sharpening that is.
    When i was a boy i tried but…. in the end all the farming tools went to see the local blacksmith.
    Now there aren’t any blacksmith not here and neither 30kms around…

    So i’m very grateful for your sharpening methods, so from time to time i went back to wacht your videos again. chisels (i´m ok), planes (still getting there). Saws and bow saw (improved, but…)



  2. handmadeinwood on 28 December 2013 at 12:59 pm

    .

    You got a good saw there, despite the uncomfortable handle, despite the daft price. There goes the price of Tyzack saws off the scale! You may consider doing a video on re-modelling those old chunks of Beech!

    My wife bought me an identical saw about 35 years ago…… it’s still going strong, despite a none-too-accomodating handle.

    Those old Elephant brand tools were excellent.

    .



  3. Steve Massie on 28 December 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Paul another very timely blog. I have been collecting a few older saws myself and have touched up a couple but the results were OK not stellar. Now that my bench is more or less finished ( I have a couple enhancements to do ) I am ready to get serious about saw sharpening since I sold my table saw a few years ago. I have a couple nice older saws that were professionally sharpened but would like to do my own and they are getting to the point they will need to be sharpened shortly.

    Steve



  4. kpinvt on 28 December 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been playing the saw sharpening section of the Master Sharpening section of the DVD the last day or two. I have a bunch of old saws I bought from junk shops for $2 each or so, also a couple of newer ones from Ebay that were sharpened by the seller, which is probably why I bought them on top of the ones I already have. I’m itching to try sharpening but I still have to get the bench done first.



  5. davidos on 28 December 2013 at 2:13 pm

    i must say when i joined woodworking master classes i came to the conclusion that disposable saw would do me just fine as i would never be able to sharpen saws .however to find such a saw for fine dovetails and the like was difficult and would work out extremely expensive in the long run. i took the plunge bought my self a few cheap hand saws and i disant saw file. Watched your sharpening video a few times and wow i love it. not great at first but like everything in life the more you practice the easier it becomes albeit only rip cut. The man at the hardware store who must be in his 70’s was delighted to hear me ask for saw files for a handsaws and not the usual chain saw so much so he is going to order some bacho files in. great to see this crucial element of hand tool work alive .thanks paul will look forward to filing a crosscut with you.



  6. Randy Allen on 18 January 2014 at 3:35 am

    Looks like a nice useful little saw Paul. I’ve been working on the wooden plane build and for lack of anything else to use, found that my little 10 pt D8 does a good job of ripping and crosscutting in the cherry I’m using. Got it several months ago from a stack of $7 saws. Old saws are so cool, can’t wait to see your sharpening video.

    Cheers



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