Saw Questions Answered

Question 1)

Hi Paul.

Recently bought two vintage saws on Ebay and after following your video on saw sharpening, work great. But seeing this post, I think there is a detail that escaped me. The cut of one of the saws is curved as I saw in one of your photos. Can you explain me how to solve this problem?

Answer 1)

The most common causes for this is either one side of the teeth caught something like a nail or screw, the vise or some other hard surface, and dulled the teeth to that side so much that that one side of the saw no longer cuts efficiently when the other does. Children often catch the vise, damage the teeth and keep on cutting. Another issue causing this curve in the cut is that the saw teeth are unequally set. This means that the set is unequal so the efficient and inefficient sides create an unequal cutting strategy and curves the cut. In the first case the teeth must be refiled until equal. In the second case you must remove the set using one hammer in the vise as an anvil and a second hammer to carefully tap the teeth between the two hammerheads. I recommend that you do both sides of the teeth quite gently and try the saw. Sometimes this still leaves enough set in the teeth for the saw to be used. Often this will take care of the inequality. If not, reset the teeth using a sawset.

Questioner 2)

Hi Paul,
I recently bought a PAX Panel & Tenon saw from ebay, they’re as new, not vintage other than the design and manufacturing process’s. I am looking to build a basic collection of tools to allow me to undertake and educate myself in wood working projects based on your DVD series.

Do you have any experience with these Thomas Flinn / PAX saws. They feel well balanced, and using the knife wall method, I have achieved clean accurate cuts.

Thank you for a wonderful website, video’s and blog, I have learned so much already.


Answer 2)

Thomas Flinn make fairly good saws using acceptable materials. Visiting their website is a little problematic as for the many saws and tools you don’t see prices straight off the bat, which can be a British thing. By the time you get to the checkout you still do not know quite what you are paying so totalling up your purchases is not so easy. All the saws accross the range of makers are made the same way and are made the way the present day company makes them, which is more modern-day generic and indifferent to the original makers. The present people/owners bought the Thomas Flinn name and company and all of the other trade names they market their saws under as those original companies went under or out of business. So they have established their own saw making processes and call them by the names they bought. The steel and brass and wood are all good materials. The saws are a little clunky and undefined and definitely lack the quality and feel US makers have in their saws with regard beautiful shaping and finishing. This is because their end product pretty much comes straight from the CNC router with minimal manual work to refine the details and the shape. What they lack in terms of refinement, however, can always be done by you. Shaping the handles is an hours work even if you cut some Disston leaf patterns in, so you can end up with a good saw custom shaped to suit you if you don’t mind a little sweat equity.

Questioner 3)

Hello Paul

I have 2 old saws that I think were probably left here when we bought the house (a long time ago) but can’t be sure. I was thinking of trying to sharpen these and both of them have a concave curve on the cutting edge. my question is how to get rid of this curve and secondly is it worth it apart from practice at sharpening perhaps. One is a “Bishop” and the other medallion just says “Warranted Superior” or something similar. The “WS” one looks like it has been cut down in length and maybe the “Bishop”

as well as they are both just under 19 inches in length. I don’t have a rip saw so was thinking of sharpening the “Bishop” saw to that pattern, not sure about the other one. Both the saws have really nice comfortable handles. I have attached a few photos so you can see what they look like.

Thanks again,


Answer 3)

Image 1 These saws would be good for practice and you will likely have usable saws but not pretty ones.  Both look as though they have indeed been cut down which is OK. Sometimes woodworkers cut plates down if they want to fit them in a tool box or they were kinked through improper use or stood on.

You can cut the plate down to neaten them up. I have saws 16” long that I like. The wide one with the double angled end  here would best be cut down in width by at least an inch, the toe end squared up and skew back cut to the top edge from toe to handle. You must decide if this is worth it as you will need to recut teeth and sharpen. If you do make the saw smaller as suggested I would shoot for 10TPI as a tooth size. Image The other saw too will need reshaping if it is to work at all well. A metal cutting bandsaw will do this effectively as the plate will not cut well with shears.


  1. Paul,

    Maybe this is a question for a future Saw Questions Answered, but I have a couple hand-me-down saws (Disstons I believe) which appear to be good saws, but they have notable kinks in them. I’ve used them a little for carpentry but they have just enough bend to keep me from getting a cut I could use right off the saw.

    So, any good way to get the bend out of a saw? I’ve read that it can be done with a lot of skill and very carefully placed hammer hits, but that seems tedious and may take more practice than I care to put into this particular area of woodworking.



  2. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though
    you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre
    talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    1. Paul actually writes far more than he posts videos. You should check out some of his other posts if you prefer reading.

      1. Joseph, I agree. There is wealth of written blogs, but I have to admit I love the videos too. Woodworking is a physical activity and while thorough descriptions and discussions are wonderful, oftentimes I find it’s the video that really makes it click for me. I think Paul’s ration of blogs to instruction videos is just about spot on. With respect to the previous gentleman’s point of view and suggestion write more, I say “don’t change a thing”. Thanks for the best woodworking resource on the web! Keep up the great work.

  3. About question # 1 and the business of the set being possibly different on one side, I, a tyro who doesn’t really know anything, have been thinking that maybe I need to be careful about exactly where I place the hammer with respect to the tooth.

    I’ll put forth an idea. I’m asking to be corrected as needed.

    I will refer to the tips of the teeth and the gullets as reference points and I’m working off of the fact that the tips are generally not midway between gullets but are generally right above the adjacent gullet (or very close alongside).

    I’m talking about the non-progressive teeth that run down all but two inches of the saw if you followed Paul Sellers instructions for filing. Those teeth have a leading edge that’s vertical, so that the adjacent gullet is right at the bottom of that vertical edge, not off much further to one side and certainly not halfway to the next tooth tip.

    I should add that my own Eclipse No 77 saw set is the newer fatter-hammer kind and I have not refined its hammer yet. I’m using it on a 12 tpi saw and have measured the width of the hammer as being slightly less than the distance between teeth (bidding now on one of the older Eclipse No 77’s with the narrow hammer). I mention this because what I’m going to suggest may be more relevant or less relevant depending upon whether the hammer is much narrower than the distance between the teeth or not. You decide.

    I am supposing that it is pretty correct, possibly ideal, to put the hammer dead center between the gullets. But you must then realize that when you do so the tip of the tooth will not be dead center in front of the hammer. Since the gullets lie right below the vertical leading edges of the teeth, right below the tips of the teeth, you should almost be placing the hammer dead center between the tips of the teeth.

    An alternative positioning that might work would be to put the left side of the hammer at the very tip of the tooth when the front of the saw is to your left, and put the right side of the hammer at the tip when the back end of the saw is to your left. With that positioning the hammer would not be dead center between the gullets but no part of it would be off of the tooth and you’d be putting most of the force right on the tallest part of the tooth.

    But, if you mistakenly think that you should put the tip of the tooth at the center of the hammer that would cause the hammer to encroach upon the adjacent tooth that you’ve previously set in the opposite direction, and would tend to pull it back in. It might even cause the tooth to be slightly twisted so that the leading edge would no longer be perpendicular to the blade but would face outward very slightly (bad I would assume). Possibly you could get a satisfactory result that way anyway I suppose but you should be getting much less set than you would get with the hammer always dead center between the gullets.

    Now, about too much set on one side… consider what I’ve just written in the previous paragragh with respect to the circumstance of a saw that initially had no set at all. The resistance affecting the setting of the tooth that is caused by the hammer encroaching on the adjacent tooth is different, between setting the first side and setting the second side. When you are setting the first side, the adjacent tooth upon which you are encroaching with the hammer is not yet set but it puts up a certain amount of resistance to being brought along, inappropriately, in the direction of the tooth that you’re setting.

    But when you switch to the other side the adjacent teeth on which the hammer is encroaching are the ones that you previously set, so they put up more resistance because they are pointing away. The setting of the first side and the setting of the second side are not conducted in a symmetrical way. There are different starting conditions for each side. I don’t know which side would end up with the greater set but we should expect the set to be somewhat different.

    P. S. My credentials: I’ve sharpened exactly one saw.

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