Crosscut Saw Sharpening Direct Via YouTube

I wanted you to be able to go directly to my YouTube video without subscribing to our woodworkingmasterclasses online broadcast because I think it is important. I hope that you enjoy this. It’s the method I use the most on my saws with teeth larger than 10 PPI if indeed I want a crosscut version in my handsaws.

Here you go:


  1. Thanks Paul for making this. Another series I could see that would be handy would be a series demonstrating various wood finishes. You have several excellent videos on using shellac. I’d love to see a bunch of other videos dedicated to finishing with other materials such as Danish oil, varnish, paint, etc. You’ve already mentioned the understandable angst surrounding finishes. A few videos would be helpful.

  2. Hi Paul, I really enjoyed this video, you make it look so simple, I have been a life long wood worker, completing a five year apprenticeship as a artificial limb maker, old school, wooden legs. one thing they never taught us was sharpening saws, I have tried to sharpen but not too clever. Thanks for taking the mystery out of the process.
    Regards Larry.

  3. Thank you, Paul. While I am a member of the Masterclasses website, I think it’s nice that you have made this video available to everyone via YouTube.

    1. Generally I sharpen all of my saws to a rip pattern. I don’t keep a crosscut pattern on smaller teeth because the teeth are finer and more commensurate to the grain of the wood. I want a saw I can rip and crosscut without change. It is only in recent years that people have been led to believe that it’s necessary to have both rip and crosscut pattern in all sizes whereas in the past craftsmen did as I am doing. Why? Well, try to imagine how many saws you would need to have for one thing. I use four backsaws and three handsaws generally. That would double and I don’t need to search for the two types in all I do, but then ask yourself where all the primary information comes from these days. Mostly saw makers and catalog companies. Why sell one saw when you can sell two?

      1. Thanks for the reply Paul. I was fortunate to have been a student in some of your classes in Texas several years ago. Sometime I would like to see a post on why you picked up your family and moved moved to the states several years. Did you know someone that encouraged you to come? And why did you pick Texas? I think that would be a very interesting story.

        PS- I am now looking in the archives for the post that explains how to convert a crosscut saw to a rip saw.

      2. Thank you Paul! I concentrate mostly on you ´´modified ripcut pattern’´.

  4. Thank you Paul!
    I know it has been said before, but I want to add my voice to the list. Your generosity in freely providing this kind of valuable training is very rare. I realize that most people are not in a position(either financially or in terms of skill) to do what you are doing. However even among those that are, your willingness to share at no charge (and presumably at significant cost to you) is very inspiring in a world that seems to be increasingly self interested.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Tom,

      I’m very glad to read this. I subscribe entirely your kind words addressed to Mr. Sellers.

      By the way, your site looks very interesting. Bookmarked!


  5. Dear Paul,

    Thanks so much for the video. Just one point, I didn’t notice a set on the saw. Do you only set rip cut saws?

    1. Set is the same as ripcuts and we only sharpen on in 6-10 sharpenings and not every time.

      1. Just to clarify, when you wrote, ” … we only sharpen on in 6-10 sharpenings and not every time.”
        Did you mean to put, ” we only >set< on in 6-10 sharpenings and not every time."?

  6. .
    Good idea to use a commercially available resharpenable saw at a fair price…….. probably a decent enough plate, but what about that awful blister-inducing handle?

    1. It’s not at all as you say. The handle is comfortable and I doubt would in anyway cause blisters.

  7. Paul,

    In trying to locate a good/used dovetail saw on Ebay, I’m having limited success (or at least am not sure the prices quoted are “deals”). That said, I found some dovetail saw “kits” for around $40 (includes everything but the handle). Do you think this is a good way to go to essentially create a personalized dovetail/back saw or are there better channels out there to find them? I am currently using a Zona saw for my dovetails but am not sure it is robust enough for bigger jobs or repeated use given I don’t think it is worth sharpening (due to too many teeth per inch)? Thank you for generously sharing your knowledge and wisdom.

    1. David, I’ve tried to nab a good condition used dovetail saw on ebay for a long time. They all seem to be highly overpriced and hard to get a good one for a good price anymore. I’d love to have an antique brass-backed dovetail saw, but it seems to be getting further out of reach unless you’re really lucky on Ebay.

      Can I suggest the 14 point Veritas dovetail saw from Lee Valley for about $70? That’s what I have and it works well and is a lot less expensive than what you’ll pay for a saw on Ebay.

      1. Veritas makes excellent saws. Paul has recommended them in the past and I have 4 of them myself.

    2. That’s because in backsaw making the only place there is much work to take place is in the handle. The rest is just nuts and bolts assembly stuff and that’s why there are so many so called saw makers popping up all over the globe.

      I am not convinced at all that that’s the easiest way to go. A Spear and Jackson dovetail saw like this one costs £27 and there are others they make that can be resharpened too. Oh, and it comes with a handle that you can reshape if you want to but it works fine as is.

  8. I am probably being an idiot asking this but.. why once you’ve flipped the saw length ways why do you do the opposite angle? i must be missing something but I can’t get my head round it. Surely you change the angle OR flip the saw round? if you flip the saw and reverse the filling angle would that not give you the same (or backwards on one side) angle?

    1. If you sketch 2 or 3 adjacent teeth on a piece of paper, showing the filed facets facing alternately (i.e. the first with the point on the left, and the next with the point on the right) >>but filed on the inside in both cases, so that the outer edges of the teeth are unfaceted<<) you will see the reason for tuning the saw *and* changing the angle.
      Another way to achieve the same result would be to keep the saw fixed, and change both the direction of filing and the angle. Or, you could file in the same direction, but from the other side of the saw.
      Simpler, just to change the angle and turn the saw around.

  9. Not idiotic at all. The only idiotic question is the one that’s never asked. It does take some thinking through but you are coming from an exact opposite angle and an opposite side. The best way to understand it is not in the abstract but at the bench by placing the file in the gullet one way, making sure you know which gullet you are in, and then approaching from the opposite side of the pate as shown in the video. Then you will seethe Vee of the gullets and see better how the file is oriented.

  10. I have two old back saws in the middle of rehab. One is already filed flat. I followed your explanation of 12 TPI being cut 2mm apart ( I remember that one — 1 inch = 2.54 cm — from high school in the 1960’s. But darned if I can figure out the formula if I want 14 or even 16 TPI instead. Yes, I’m older than you are. You’ll understand in a few years.
    I’d like these saws to work with 1×3″ hardwood in general joinery, meaning tenon/mortise, lap joints, larger dovetails and the like. The finer work can be left to the Veritas saws.
    Since I have two practically identical, and both are being retoothed, might you suggest an optimum path regarding TPI, crosscut/ripcut (or dual purpose).
    BTW, these came down from my grandfather, made a long time ago ‘way down the hill from Disston here in Philadelphia, by that famous sawmaker, “Warranted Reliable”.
    And if 14 or 16 TPI are desirable (I have the time and the bifocal safety glasses) , it sure would be neat to do the math myself to figure out the distance between kerfs in your hardwood tooth template. Something more challenging than 25mm to 1 inch = 12 (sort of).

  11. Hi Jeff,

    Since you know 1 inch is approximately 25mm, to get the spacing in millimeters you would divide 25 by the TPI you want. For instance, for 14 TPI you would take 25/14≈1.79, so roughly 1.8mm. For 16 TPI, it might be easier to measure by sixteenths of an inch since that’s a standard measure on a rule.

    I hope that helps/is what you were looking for.

  12. OK, so here’s my question for Paul on sharpening–I’ve watched several of your sharpening videos for saws and such and my question is this: When you have shown rip-cut filing/sharpening you do that thing where you angle the file a certain way for the first 1-2″ of the saw and then rotate it slightly for a more “aggressive” cut for the remainder of the saw.

    Do you do the same thing with cross-cut sharpening (in addition to the 65 degree angle filling)? Or is it just one vs. the other–rip cut sharpening is straight across with the rotation of she saw file while cross-cut sharpening only makes use of the 65 degree cross filed angle?

    Does that make sense? Thank you.

    1. No, because the pinnacle pointed teeth cut well regardless of the rake although you can adjust this too. In my view it is not worth it.

  13. Dear Paul

    Thank you for you video of crosscut saw sharpening.
    I have one question here.
    Why do you sharpen back of tooth first ?
    If I sharpen front of tooth first than what is different ?
    Please let me know


    1. Actually I am not. I use the phrase “sharpen the back of the tooth first” because it indicates that we are sharpening teeth that lean away from us but we are placing the file in the gullet and so sharpening the front of the teeth that are leaning toward us at the same time and in the single thrust forward of the file. In other words we are sharpening the back of the teeth leaning away from AND the front of the teeth leaning toward us in that stroke. The phrase was used to me when I was an apprentice and it made sharpening crosscut saws very simple for me so I pass it on.

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