things to consider

It’s strange, really, when you think about it. Whenever you start any kind of retrofit, replacement of components, and especially something fitting into wood, you suddenly see that all things are not quite created equal. A half-inch becomes a little less and a little more. 12mm becomes 11.41 and the drill bit sizes are equally a more-or-less, give-or-take optional non-option. It surely has to be a constant compromise to get as close as possible to a half-decent but rarely ever exact fit. And please don’t tell me you get what you pay for. I have been there too, paid tops for the best and what have you. In our highly ‘respected‘ and sort of ‘accepted‘ fait accompli of global factory production that are always elsewhere but no one knows quite where, we often find ourselves in unbelief that accuracy has slipped quite this far. I think too that simplified information can be misleading too. In the description the seller says, “Requires a 1/4″ (5.5mm) hole between 13/16″ and 1″ deep (21-25.5mm),” Following this information I would have been in deep trouble. In reality, your stud sizing will best be determined by your actual saw and in reality, again, you will actually need at least three drills bits to make these fit in 95% of saws.

If you follow the guidance of a 1/4″ hole and press-fit the serrated component into the hole of any hardwood saw handle the chances are you will most likely end up splitting the handle. If the saw requires four studs, then watch out, chances are you will have four splits in one! Also, the information says requires a 13/16″ to 1″ deep hole. Well, if the saw handle is the very standard 7/8″ thick, I can tell you that the studs will not fit without a decent recessing of both screw and cap and not, “…the heads can be recessed slightly for thicker handles.” For my 7/8″ thick handle I had to recess 3mm each side as the components would not connect, never mind tighten. I doubt that you will find a wooden saw handle thicker than 1″. If you do, then the recesses will need to be 4mm deep each side to work. that’s about 3/16″.

This rim allows for recessing to the rim of the dome by a millimeter but still not enough to engage on 95% of saws. You can go another mil deeper each side and not compromise looks but that is still not enough for good, five-thread, engagement.

In redefining the shape of the handle of my now much-loved Spear & Jackson handsaw, I realised that I couldn’t remove the handle for the maximum refinement I wanted without drilling out the core of the existing press-fit screws and caps. Now as far as functionality goes these screws and caps work just fine; if or when the handle shrinks, you simply place the studs on a hard surface and hammer-tap the stud. This pinch of the cap tightens on the circumference and length of the stem and secures the handle further. Surprisingly, they work well. Simple, but I must say that they are less attractive and they look a little cheapish because, well, that’s what they are, cheap.

Pop a centre-point to start the drill bit using a centrepunch and…
…drill through until the two halves separate.

Whereas I could replace them with some vintage studs and nuts I already have, I feel that that would seem pretentious, and it wouldn’t help others if they wanted to change theirs out too. Foolishly, instead of ordering one set to try a set out first I ordered two sets of four because I would need two sets, one for the first effort in developing and creating the methodology, to check the sizing, work needed, and then to get the design right. I can then use that to create a matched partner in the video I make.

Reshaping the future of my handsaws.

I ordered my replacement sets wondering if one-size-fits-all works because the suppliers I sought to buy from sell only the one size. The information provided was minimally simplistic though, so it can appear that there really wasn’t much to it whereas there actually is. When the first sets arrived I felt strongly that the screws and caps looked too short. Fact is that the only way for them to work would be to substantially recess the heads into both sides of the handle.

How the studs sit on a 7/8″ thick section of wood. The threads don’t touch when the screw is inside the opening to the barrel cap. The visible rim is just 1.2mm thick so you can recess to this point but the threads only just connect if you do.

Whereas the supplier did say that you can drill them out deeper for thicker handles, so that the screws and/or caps could be recessed that way, the problem was I didn’t want recessed caps sub-surface; not what I wanted at all. Too, for the recess to gain the purchase and then retain a good appearance meant I would only recess by 2mm; the gain meant that the threads would only engage by at most 2 threads.

The recess is 3mm deep so the rim of the hole is not really my preference.

Certainly, I could recess more but to get what I would consider a decent thread gain would mean a deep recess. The connection must be enough for a confident tight cinching. But by then, in my view, I have compromised the ‘appearance‘ of the saw–something saw makers of old saw as critically essential and therefore really sought to perfect because they felt appearance was the heart to any saw made and that it maximised functionality. It was only after the Second World War when the real compromise became the established standard of utilitarianism that the industry would adopt as normal. The war brought many ugly looking tools, together with low expectation levels in tool making. This was so short-sighted because, as is the case with Spear & Jackson and many others, and even so-called premium makers, all they really had to do was spend ten minutes more on the handle to increase their price by £100 and more per saw. It takes hardly anything to make a really good saw. Mostly they require very basic engineering achieved by programming milling machines and such. Arrogance took over when the founders lost their grip in these once remarkable companies and their juniors, knowing nothing of the trade, took over and the juniors thought that they as the tail wagged the dog.

The barrel could be extended 4mm to make for much greater thread engagement yet without compromising the option to retrofit in a customised way–perhaps two pence worth of added brass.

I checked the size on forty different makes or and sizes of hand and tenon saws to see which ones they might fit. It might surprise everyone to know that they all measured within half a millimeter of 22mm thick. That tells us that through two centuries a standard sizing was established and a one-size does indeed fit all. Not one of the saws would benefit from these new studs. New, vintage, and those in between, all of my saws, which are quite standard, were indeed too thick to work well using these screws and caps as is because indeed the threads would not even connect.

The threads don’t begin to engage at this 7/8″. In a vintage saw restoration it can be tricky to get recess holes bang-on centre, so it takes some very careful aligning on three to four holes.

A simple solution

Checking precisely with calipers, it looks to me that the makers could simply make the barrel part of the caps 2-4mm longer to resolve the issue. By doing that, both the bolt (screw) and barrel (cap) components would fully engage with a thread count of four to six threads rather than one or two. The barrel or bolt could be filed shorter to suit should that then be necessary (but that would be the very rarity and not the norm) and just about any saw handle could be retrofitted without needing a variety of sizes: problem solved.

I did consider reducing the thickness of the S&J saw handles by 2mm each side, but felt that that would make the saw handle just too thin.

Below pic shows the cap recessed 1mm which would be my preference for domed screws and caps, but still not enough to engage the thread in the very standard 7/8″ thick handle.

I have noticed that the brass is quite soft which is not a problem if the threads engage properly, but if they do cross slightly you may well lose a screw and cap.

I decided to try another UK supplier. Their studs would apparently fit any saw up to 1″ (25mm) thick without recessing the heads. Few handles are ever that thick, and their price was fair for such a specialised item too. I ordered a set of their regular brass screws and caps with the slotted head and then a set with split nuts. Indeed I was right. These studs can be readily cut to fit simply by filing the barrel and or the screw. With all of my handsaws, tenon saws and even my dovetail saws measuring 7/8″ thick, ~22mm, my first set of screws and caps offered did meet at 20mm, but the threads did not actually engage until 18-19mm. Not near soon enough.

I am hoping that these things will help you determine what to do to make screws and caps work in your saw. Personally I would not spend £6 to £12 per set on studs. £10 per set of four works fine for me and they look fine too. My complaint is only minor and I made mine work for me. The sizes you are given online to work with and make decisions by may not be that helpful if the engineering isn’t altogether thought through to align with your expectations. For instance, if the inner lip inside the barrel part of the cap, the part receiving the threaded screw, is beveled or recessed, the chances are that the screw cannot actually engage in the receiving thread before entering the barrel for the first one to two millimeters. Of course, there is nothing deceitful going on with the suppliers or the makers. There’s just more to this than meets the eye that’s all.

The wood here is dead on 7/8″, so the two parts cannot engage as yet. The heads of one or both must be recessed and recessed quite a bit before you get the very minimum thread engagement of 5 full threads.

The problem is you cannot access the proper and detailed information until you’ve bought the screw and cap set and hold it in your hand. Now don’t think that this inner bevel is bad engineering. It’s common practice to ‘guide’ the ‘bolt’ in a centered presentation to the hole. Combined with a similar chamfer to the screw (bolt) it pretty much guarantees there is no cross-threading to the threads in either part as they first engage. But in our case, it is unhelpful because it compromises thread engagement by several thread counts.

See the small rim around the perimeter and then the slight protrusion from milling. I’m guessing that this reduces engagement by a mil or two.

Drilling the holes, fitting the screws and caps

For the first sets of studs to fit, you will need three drill bits to make these studs work in your saw, not the single 1/4″ suggested: Two twist drills 7.5 and 6.5 and a rim bit like a Forstner 13mm. As you will see in the images below what the variations were in sizing. What was stated on the bits was not the outcome under the eye of the vernier calipers. I felt, after a lot of consideration, that the studs worked okay. Unfortunately, the supplier did not give the diameter of the screw set heads. That would have been helpful but perhaps difficult as the diameter is far from standard at 12.4mm.

Usually, when stepping sizes to create steps, in new work we start with the larger and then use the centre-point of that hole to guide subsequent step sizing. With our saw, the hole is already in place and you have no centre to work with. In our case, it’s not a problem as subsequent hole sizing is larger, not smaller, until we come to the rim hole that is.

Drill through halfway with the 7.5mm bit. This size is slightly larger than the barrel of the cap because this cap needs to rotate to tighten the cap onto the stem and also, the fractional difference allows a little flex for alignment of one component to the other. From the other side drill the 6mm hole. This is larger than the screw part but smaller than the serrated part. That means that the serrations engage the wood but not so much as to crack the wood as you press the stud home in the vise.

If your handle needs the recessing, set up in the drill press and drill only to a depth you determine beforehand in a scrap of wood.

Additionally, you may need to drill through the saw plate itself to enlarge the hole for either the cap or the screw stud. The plate can be extremely hard at this point as often it has not been annealed here. Just be prepared.

I will show results with alternative supplier’s studs soon.

65 Comments

  1. Thomas on 18 February 2020 at 1:04 pm

    I hope Spear & Jackson see this and consider a re-design.

    • Paul Sellers on 18 February 2020 at 1:52 pm

      Doubt they will. Too forward-thinking. Even the premium makers of things today don’t really invent much of anything that wasn’t already there before for them to copy, they just saw that by factoring finishing quality into something it would become more preferable and saleable and that they could charge ten times the price. At one time the standard would never have dropped so far but two world wars and the birth of mass, mass-manufacturing saw to that.

      • Thomas on 19 February 2020 at 10:12 am

        What I don’t understand is: if you can program a CNC machine to cut the shape they currently have, then why can’t they just program it to cut a more comfortable shape well established by crafts people over the centuries.? One would think S&J have a department that deals with these aspects of customer satisfaction, such as ergonomics, etc. In fact, it should be the most essential thing after the quality of the materials themselves.

        From just a little bit of research online it’s clear to see that a general shape of saw handles has been established over the centuries and to me it’s somewhat arrogant of S&J to produce a saw handle with the word “TRADITIONAL” emblazoned on the plate, whilst flying in the face of centuries of established knowledge.

        • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 11:41 am

          It’s been the same since the 1950s. Actually, the Taiwanese are more than happy to make anything you want making and to very exacting standards. Don’t suffer under any illusion that these are anything but British saws in name only; they are made in Taiwan.

      • Mike on 28 February 2020 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Paul

        I read all the posts with interest and they made me think somewhat about tools in general. When I was a lad starting out Stanley, Marple’s Spear & Jackson and Henry Distton were the best gear around. I remember saving up a few bob every week to get my first plane then a chisel set and so on! All the best makes have disappeared which is very sad but in my opinion inevitable brought about by the decline in apprenticeships which started mid 70s. Ten in came the 6 month schemes?? After completing my apprenticeship, I remember when turning up for a new work on a site somewhere being asked for C&G certs, union card then open your box for a tool inspection. It became the only way they could whittle out what they called chancers!

        sad really they were just people trying to get a skill.

        Later on in life I went into training with several institutions where we taught those very people basic construction skills (one year) enough to get people on the ladder then find sponsors who would take them on to the next level. I came off the tools around 1990 due to arthritic problems and went into site management then safety management. Now retired I have built my workshop last year and will fit it out this summer as like yourself I have purchased an old house and have spent nearly a year refitting it out, almost finished… I am looking forward refurbishing my tools now and following your every move whilst working in my man cave.
        Your are a special kind of person Paul and I admire your outlook on life and your well honed skills.

        God bless you!

    • Ermir on 19 February 2020 at 8:51 pm

      @Thomas: After these last two articles by Paul, they most definitely will not! From the reviews on Amazon it is clear that many many buyers (including me) acquire these saws because Paul recommends them and teaches how to sharpen them.

      Now there are these detailed articles with clear instructions and beautiful results on the handle. S&J will not change a thing. They will sell even better. Prices might go higher now.

      @Paul: a big thank you! It is amazing to see how you have transformed this handle. I really appreciate your work and your teaching! And your team is excellent too!

      • Thomas on 20 February 2020 at 9:45 am

        The whole thing is rather cynical really.

    • Mike Woodward on 19 February 2020 at 11:09 pm

      Paul,
      Seeing the hoops you had to jump through makes me glad I spend the extra on a Bad Axe saw.

      • Paul Sellers on 20 February 2020 at 7:23 am

        Different saw strokes for different saw folks, I suppose.

        Perhaps put yourself in the position of others. For instance, you have never done any woodworking in your life before and you want to get started. Someone asking your advice would need to go out and buy over a thousand pounds worth of handsaws before she or he even knows if she or he even likes it. Now that is what I call a big “hoop to jump through”. But this gets all the bigger if you only earn say £20-25k a year and you have two kids and spouse to support, a mortgage to pay and so on. Think about it. And this kind of thinking happens across the board when the privileged regions and people start giving advice. Some suggest going out and buying £10,000 worth of machinery just to start woodworking yet all they wanted was to do was make a few pieces of furniture. Let me explain further:

        I am glad you are enjoying your new saw, but that really wasn’t the point of the article nor should you feel sorry for those who could never afford to spend as much you did on what is another handsaw. To use the phrase, “the hoops you had to jump through” tilts the discussion to justify your spending I suppose. Changing the studs took me 20 minutes. Not exactly ‘hoop-jumping‘, not in my world, anyway.
        No, you see I took a saw, tried it, quite liked it, and thought, this is at least affordable. I wanted to be a resource for those looking to find a decent saw. I wanted to use it, improve it, I persevered with it, transformed it, I totally succeeded! More than that, I now have a totally good saw, I totally, totally enjoyed it and I hope hundreds if not thousands will follow my example and not just give in. Most of my audience are doers and like to do things for themselves. They’re looking to improve things all around them and they could never afford nor perhaps even want to spend £400 to £440 on what at the end of the day is a handsaw. Paying around twenty times higher in price makes it prohibitive for many to get into woodworking. Magnify that three to four times to buy four saws makes £1,200 particularly hard.

        • Thomas on 20 February 2020 at 9:52 am

          This is so true. If the working of wood is “hoop-jumping”, well that pretty much dismisses woodworking itself as a chore.

        • Steve P on 20 February 2020 at 12:48 pm

          You are forgetting another element of this too Paul. Some of us actually ENJOY tinkering with things. When I learned to drive I had an old Mustang that I enjoyed spending the weekend tinkering about, fixing things up, tuning the motor. Sure the rich kid in the Lamborghini might see that as jumping through hoops. But it was something I enjoyed. Same now with tools, I am actually enjoying finding old tools in antique shops and garage sales etc, taking off the rust, sharpening the blades/irons, fettering and tuning it into a working tool. I actually get some enjoyment from it. And I don’t have to line somebody’s pockets who is overcharging for something.

        • Ermir on 20 February 2020 at 4:20 pm

          … further more, we can now take a steel plate and a piece of beech and make our own saws. Instructions on tooth shaping and sharpening have been here, on WWMC and on Paul’s YT channel from quite some time. Now we have the handle instructions. This is all one needs to make a saw from the very beginning and the reasons may be of different kind: joy in making, self trainig and expertise upgrading, need of a particular kind or size of saw, not being able to afford a Bad Axe saw, custom made saws to sell, etc. I have made my own router and rebate plane. Now I’m thinking about making a saw, but after I reshape my S&J’s handles.

          • Michael Bullock on 24 February 2020 at 7:37 pm

            I agree completely with the notion of finding joy in getting vintage or less expensive tools working well. I can also say that Mark, who is the guy that makes the Bad Axe saws, is a very nice gentleman. I emailed a question to him about something I was trying to do with a vintage saw and he was kind enough to immediately respond and then took time to hop on the phone and do some questions and answers. In other words, the gentleman took the time to stop making those expensive (and very nice) saws and helped me for no other reason than (I think) he enjoys saws and the art and knowledge around them both old and new. Of course, the fact that the owner of Bad Axe is a nice guy is not an argument for buying an expensive, boutique made tool unless you have a few hundred to spare and want to be a bit self indulgent. For the record, I’ve not purchased anything from Bad Axe myself. I have read through some nice articles they have posted on techniques for saw maintenance and restoration. Maybe I will buy one of Mark’s saws one day. I do think they are nice and he is obviously passionate about what he does. At the same time, I’ve done very well with my less expensive saws. In the end, I agree with Paul that no one should feel that they can’t get started and get good results without investing thousands in this hobby. At the same time, my hat is also off to guys like Mark that are keeping the art of the sawyer alive (and are nice people to boot).



        • mikeyb on 25 February 2020 at 12:00 am

          I just had to reply to this. What a timely post Paul, thank you.
          I have a very good friend who has a wife who is addicted to garage sales. I have been recuperating from blood clots in both lungs for a year now. Hopefully will be back in the shop in a week or two. Meanwhile my friend has picked up 4 disstans and 1 atkins. The Atkins is a very nice rip and in good shape. The disstans are old to very old and need some TLC… One handle must be remade, but the others are salvageable.. The big thing is the handles fit my large mitts. The new saws of today do not fit my hand, not even close.

      • TDA on 24 February 2020 at 5:22 pm

        These folks are not all that far from where I live and I doubt I will ever be able or for that matter decide to purchase a saw that expensive. I will be content even to have to fiddle about for a couple of hours and make my own handle nuts

    • J Lloyd on 25 February 2020 at 4:16 am

      I hope you continue giving recommendations and advice as you have for the S&J saws. Great buy and a pleasure to use.

  2. Steve P on 18 February 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Hello Paul, thank you so much for doing all the dirty work here so we don’t have to trial and error our way into frustration. I did manage to find 2 S&J saws on Amazon here. A 22” 10pt , and a 24” 7 point saw. Both listed as “universal teeth”. Can you recommend which one to get? Would like to get started in these recent modifications you posted. Thanks again! Cheers
    Steve

    • Paul Sellers on 18 February 2020 at 1:50 pm

      If you can’t do both, go for the shorter 22″ as what we call a panel saw.

      • Steve P on 18 February 2020 at 3:39 pm

        OK thanks, will order on of those! Its amazing how UGLY that handle is on the factory saw after looking at your modifications. Its almost as if someone purposely went out of their way to see how ugly they could make a saw handle. And the ones in the big box store are plastic, usually with the cheap mold casting line down the center cutting into your hand. I guess they expect the average buyer not to actually use them.

  3. Ian Lockwood on 18 February 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for this Paul, I am working on a Tyzack 14″ Tennon saw I bought to practice my sharpening skills. This may sound like sacrilege to some but it was cheap and in a really shocking rusty state. The handle was loose and there is an odd shape to the blade however it cuts straight which is the main thing. I have a couple of 1990s spear and Jackson saws which work ok but I find the handles uncomfortable as they are a bit square and flat, I think i will have to be brave and take a rasp and sand paper to them. I have a lovely PAX 1776 dovetail saw I bought when on a course with Peter Sefton, it cuts great and the pear handle is lovely in the hand so i will use that as my model I think. At Harrogate this year I got to try Shane Skelton’s saws, he will make handles to fit your hand when you buy his saws but you are paying for a bespoke service and a real lifetime and beyond tool if you buy one of his. If I was a full time furniture and cabinet maker I would get great value from his saws but as a hobby woodworker I cant afford the luxury right now. In one of your videos you showed modifying a saw set, I have an Eclipse one of these and it also came with a device to help keep the angle consistent when sharpening your saw. It works fine and for hobby woodworkers who may not blunt their saw over 12 months it might help with teh learning process.
    Thanks again for your continued blogs of inspiration.

  4. nemo on 18 February 2020 at 3:14 pm

    “In the description the seller says, “Requires a 1/4″ (5.5mm) hole […] ”

    To the seller: either do it properly/correctly or else just don’t bother. Was it too much effort to reach for the cell-phone with built-in calculator?…

    I’d expect anyone to know such simple conversions from memory. That 1/4″ = 6.35 mm, 1/2″= 12.7 mm, 3/8″ = nearly 10 mm (9.5 mm in reality), etc. But anyone doing work for publishing (such as advertising) or trade I’d expect to check their work, if not double-check.

    That would have been enough for me to immediately discredit and highly suspect any other dimensions or numbers of this product, and even company. Things like these are partly why I’ve stopped reading the newspaper. Too many discrepancies *within* the article, never mind when cross-checking with other sources. If I find errors in things I can very simply see myself, I automatically assume that everything else said/written is very suspect. Or, in more direct words, worthless.

  5. Larry on 18 February 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Great advice.

    I find the cheapest way to get replacement studs is to go to a salvage yard. One near me has a rack of rusty old Disstons they sell by the pound. Most of the time the saws aren’t reclaimable but the studs almost always are, and you can sometimes reuse the handles or at least get apple or beech from them for new horns. $2 usually gets you a saw. If I buy more than one I bargain.
    And occasionally a saw is reclaimable. Then, of course, you have to go back and get another.

  6. Jon on 18 February 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Paul, Any advice for a 10″ Groves dovetail where the brass back wiggles side to side where the brass back mates with the handle? The 2, screw/nuts are tight. I put a plane shaving in there to fill the gap but is there a better way? The handle is tight to the saw plate but not the brass back. Thanks!

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 9:09 am

      Remove the handle, clean up the pocket and insert a new piece of wood using a 1 ton epoxy or similar. Leave to set up and the recut mortise.

  7. John Woodcock on 19 February 2020 at 4:21 am

    Paul – with help from your YouTube videos, can now do a reasonable job sharpening a ‘western’ hand saw. Much appreciated. Enjoyed your latest blog on replacing/installing handle caps and screws. Have a number of old Tyzack and Disston saws that could use new caps and screws. Not able to source these in Canada. Your suggestions on suppliers in UK, please. Thank you. Best Regards.

  8. Alan on 19 February 2020 at 7:58 am

    Appears to me as though these are not Saw-Nuts at all.
    These are probably Chicago Bolts.
    Some “enterprising bodger” hopes to fulfil demand for expensive saw-nuts with cheap cupboard fixings.
    That’s why they’re too short, instructions are vague, and measurements incorrectly translated.

    Google “chicago bolts” and you may find a better/cheaper match.

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 9:06 am

      Very close, Alan. The serration seems to be missing on mist Chicago bolts but you could definitely make them work for a fraction f the rice if you can find the size, which I think you can.

  9. Simon King on 19 February 2020 at 8:14 am

    Hi Paul,

    As someone mentioned earlier, the Spear and Jackson saws are advertised as having universal teeth. Does this mean that they are shaped differently to a cross cut or rip cut pattern? Or is “universal teeth” just an advertising gimmick and they are really just cross cut saws?

    I plan on re-sharpening my S&J saw this weekend and was wondering how to approach it. Is it ok to sharpen as if it’s a cross cut pattern or should I try to match the profile existing of the existing teeth?

    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge and passion for woodworking.

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 9:00 am

      Universal teeth is a copout by S&J and many other makers. Remember that they, first of all, know very little about saw teeth or saws beyond using equipment that makes the saws. Remember too that the saws are very rarely ever used for rip cutting real wood but mostly for crosscutting lengths into short sections and then cutting sheet goods like plywood and OSB, pressed fibreboard and such, where fifty percent of the material is striated cross-grain. These saws are not universal saws but crosscut saws with pinnacle teeth. So if you want a crosscut saw, leave as is. If you want a ripcut, follow my instructions on YouTube.

      • Joe on 19 February 2020 at 4:01 pm

        Last night I needed to make some rip cuts (about 29″ long rip cuts) in big box store American pine. Out of curiosity, I tried one with the S&J with the “universal” teeth as the way they came and a similar length traditional rip cut saw.

        The difference of speed of cut between the two was very noticeable. I think the rip cut tooth saw must have gone at least three times deeper per cut than the S&J “universal” tooth saw did.

        • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 5:57 pm

          Yes, but to be fair, as I have written elsewhere since this blog, most users will be using them to crosscut building lumber like 2 x 4s on up and then plywood. I doubt that a ripsaw would be anywhere as efficient and would really tear at the fibres. The crosscuts can be quickly reshaped for rip cuts and then turned back to crosscut but best to have two dedicated saws really.

          • Joe on 20 February 2020 at 6:01 pm

            Hi Paul,
            You are absolutely correct. I could have been more clear in my reply above. Based on what you have said, I agree that having the teeth cross cut from the factory makes sense given what most folks use it for.

            Having two saws make sense – one for rip and one for cross cut. I do intend to get a second S&J saw and sharpen for rip cut.

            Not related to this post per se, but tied to other posts you’ve done on sawing, I went three years with just my dovetail saw as my fine joinery saw. It worked perfect well, as you have pointed out elsewhere, for both rip and cross cut. When I finally did buy a fine joinery saw for cross cutting I was underwhelmed at the difference between the two. I am in the process of making a medium sized portable tool chest. I plan to have both a rip and cross cut panel size saws BUT only a dovetail saw. Toss in a coping saw, and all of my sawing needs are taken care of.



  10. Sebastian Heims on 19 February 2020 at 10:17 am

    Hi!
    With an Lathe it should be relatively easy to make fitting screws & caps. If an Cap with an thread going through is an option you could just use a screw with the right length, but my knowledge about woodworking saws is very limited.
    But I’m pretty sure if you ask an machinist there is a simple solution that fits 🙂

    • Paul Frederick on 24 February 2020 at 4:29 pm

      I don’t have a metal lathe so when I needed a sex bolt I made one on my mill out of a big old wood screw. Could be done on a drill press too. Just had to cut the thread off the screw and left some plain shank on the head. I drilled the shank out and tapped it. Worked good. The biggest trick was getting the screw to stand straight up and down as I clamped it with a V block in a vise. To manage that I made a pillar with a dimple in the end of it out of a scrap of threaded rod to hold the round screw head. I just drilled the end of the rod a little with an appropriate size drill bit to put a conical depression in it. I could balance the round head in that dimple pretty easily. Plus I made the pillar rod a convenient length to hold the screw up in the V block so I could work on it.

  11. Dennis Burdett on 19 February 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Great tutorial Paul, straight forward and clearly presented……thanks

  12. jay gill on 19 February 2020 at 2:45 pm

    So on a completely different tact…
    # 1 I wonder if the older toolmakers were driven toward producing beautiful tools because the beauty advertised their skill? The customer would say “hey if they can do that scroll work, surely they can build a good saw”. Now days, we look a price first and beauty and quality suffer.

    #2 I wonder what the furniture companies in the 1800’s looked like. Were there assembly lines, first guy cuts the same mortise on the same component all day. Is that really craftsmanship? You mention doing runs of 20+ windows during your apprentice days, how was the work divvied up? At the very least I remember you saying that there was a layout guy and guys that cut

    #3 – there was an interesting piece on how the Amish think about technology that’s making it’s way around the net. The key point is that when considering a new tool/technology they consider they consider BOTH the utility of the tool, and the impact of the tool on the individual and the community as well. The example given was a hay-baler. They choose not to “approve” a modern baler because while it would allow one man to finish a field in one day, that one man and his community would not benefit from the communal effort of working together. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/to-learn-how-to-practice-humane-technology-look-to-the-amish/2020/02/17/c79fa0ba-36fc-11ea-bf30-ad313e4ec754_story.html

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 4:00 pm

      I am never sure where religions take people ultimately. From airless, non-tubed and non-rubber tyres (tires USA) to phones in boxes out of the house and at the end of the driveway and off their land. I say this because these are the common practices of the Amish, an American religious sect following certain precepts of Christianity. Newspapers rarely get that close to dig for the deeper truths but can indeed romanticize certain things that might serve more to pragmatize isolated communities that choose to live more traditionally than others. I do understand the reasoning behind farming with horses rather than heavy equipment compressing and consolidating the soil and indeed people supporting one another as they work more co-dependently with one another; agrarianism versus agribusiness and so on. Are they now the so-called 20th century Luddites refusing to embrace progress or are they protecting a way of life they feel is much more wholesome and valuable to family and community values? Seeing the impact of the internet and our ultra-dependency on it does beg the very big questions; where is this taking us? Which conveyor belt are we switched to? How did I get here? I didn’t sign up for this?
      Following the removal of hand tools from public or state schools and the replacement with computers and CNC equipment is now so complete that no student in school will ever achieve much more than a nod to the traditions of the past. This went ahead completely unchallenged. As far as I could ever see no teacher or educationalist challenged the shift. Current school-aged students in state-run schools will EVER master skilled hand working nor even really get much more than experiencing failure in using a hand tool because no time is given to developing ability in it. This is one of the saddest failures fo both state-run and private education.

      • John Carruthers on 24 February 2020 at 6:42 pm

        Fear not Paul, there may be a concerted drive to remove hand skills from state education but the extended family still carries great weight and influence, especially among trades women and men.

        ” This was may grandfather’s saw/plane/spokeshave ” still has a greater worth than certificates or cash.

        Our two year old grandson was watching and ‘helping’ me trim a door the other day.
        He can’t manage or understand the theory or processes yet, but he can hand me tools when I ask (and so learns their names) and helps sweep up the shavings (good practice).
        I hope he will one day inherit and be able to use my tools; but who knows…. ?

        PS, a ‘mini lathe’ is ideal for making brass screws, bolts, etc, and it passes a few contented hours.

  13. Keith on 19 February 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Any suggestions for sourcing decent quality saw screw/nuts of the proper length in the US?

  14. Roger Evans on 19 February 2020 at 4:20 pm

    You’re quite right , Paul.
    I have dealt with this company, even spoken to them on the ‘phone querying their claim about the screws being suitable for handles up to 1″ thick. The brushoff answer I got was, “We use them on our own saws’.
    Be that as it may, the screws will definitely not engage with the nuts without recessing the handle to a degree that looks untidy, with the dome of the head ending up lower than the face to the wood. Ugly!
    But I couldn’t find an alternative supplier in the UK. If I still had access to a lathe, as I did before I retired, I would start up a small sideline manufacturing screws of a proper length for all us hand tool woodworkers.
    Thank you so much for all your superb teaching. Long may you keep going.

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 5:52 pm

      It is so frustrating when something like that happens, where issues prevent a company from admitting there us something not quite right. No one is accusing anyone of doing something wrong, just that something said is wrong and that there should be a correction made somewhere. It may well be true that they used them on a saw or two of their own, who knows, but the reality is that these saw screws and caps will not fit 99% 0f saws because the majority are indeed 7/8″. I am often urged to name and shame but in some cases, the company just does not know there is something wrong so it is best to give them the benefit of the doubt and tell them first. I always hope that the company will indeed see sense and make change happen but often nothing is done and at that point I will usually state the name.
      What would actually of great help, and speak of integrity too, would be a simple line drawing giving the exact details of the parts, photographs showing how they seat in saw handles and what the alternative options are for recessing.

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 5:53 pm

      It is so frustrating when something like that happens, where issues prevent a company from admitting there us something not quite right. No one is accusing anyone of doing something wrong, just that something said is wrong and that there should be a correction made somewhere. It may well be true that they used them on a saw or two of their own, who knows, but the reality is that these saw screws and caps will not fit 99% 0f saws because the majority are indeed 7/8″. I am often urged to name and shame but in some cases, the company just does not know there is something wrong so it is best to give them the benefit of the doubt and tell them first. I always hope that the company will indeed see sense and make change happen but often nothing is done and at that point, I will usually state the name.
      What would actually been of great help, and speak of integrity too, would be a simple line drawing giving the exact details of the parts, photographs showing how they seat in saw handles and what the alternative options are for recessing.

  15. TDA on 19 February 2020 at 6:05 pm

    I ran into this exact issue replacing the handle and damaged screws on a used saw I purchased. Screws and caps were a mismatch if parts that did not suit me so I ordered a new set supposed to fit 7/8” handles. The caps, part with female thread) were just too short. I wasted half hour calling and leaving a message then and e-mail with photos, after which I was assured I was sent the correct parts. Who am I of course I’m just the guy with the saw and parts I hand that will not tighten up without tearing the 1 thread engaged off the screw. So I ended up making new caps that are longer, half a days work I had not planned on.

    This type of thing is what I call the its good enough syndrome, where manufacturers simply don’t care if their product is quality, just that it’s “OK” no need to make the effort to make it right.

    So now when you purchase things your really getting a kit that needs assembly, replacement parts and your time to make it what it should have been out of the box. I get that it’s cheaper than a quality saw but what if I want something I don’t have to fix before I use it

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2020 at 7:05 pm

      Which company was it? Dare I ask?

      • TDA on 24 February 2020 at 5:15 pm

        The saw screws came to me from a large hardware supplier in the US, the actual maker I am not sure.

  16. Roger on 19 February 2020 at 7:01 pm

    They could just make the thread 1/2″ longer and leave us to do our own length adjustment where necessary. How difficult would that be? And how much extra could it possibly cost? 5 pence maybe?
    The ridiculous thing is that the suppliers we purchased from don’t actually manufacture the screws themselves: they buy them from another supplier! Why wouldn’t they demand longer screws from that supplier when they get complaints from their customers? My own young ‘apprentice’ also rang them with the same complaint so that’s at least three of us that we know of from this blog.
    Whatever happened to proper engineering standards, let alone customer service?!

  17. Eduard on 19 February 2020 at 8:47 pm

    Hello Paul. My name is Eduard from Barcelona.

    I recently discovered your channel on YouTube, and I just wanted to say thank you for all the useful tips.

    A quite while ago, I discovered the tools that my grandpa used, but all were rusty, and I restored them at a point that were OK-ish, but they didnt work as they should.

    I followed some tutorials about sharpening woodworking tools and knifes, and everything is buy this and buy that… I don’t have much money, and I don’t want it to spend it in a little plastic jig from china that will break in half a use. My grandparents lived the Civil War and they passed very tough times and they carried on with humble tools without spending tons of money in accessories… I’m 31 and it’s a shame that everything that is “manual labor” today is underrated. I’m quite a “techie guy” I like technology as well, in fact, Iown a cheap 3d print to prototype and make some classes for kids, as well, seems that the word “effort” means nothing today, why sharpen a knife when you can buy a new one and have it home in 2 hours flat? I’d rather buy a good quality steel knife and a sharpening stone (or a set of sanding sticks) and sharpen my knife in 5 minutes flat… And whenever comes dull swipe it again… It makes me sad, really.

    Unfortunately both my grandparents passed away when I was a little kid and they couldn’t teach me much… Thanks to you I’m learning now, those tips that my grandparents surely will give to me, and now you are sharing them on YouTube.

    Following your tutorials, now I know that the saw I have is a ripcut saw, and this afternoon I just sharpen the teeth with the file, and how to restore the plane that I have, and this evening, I discovered your website, and, what a coincidence, “how to replace screws and caps in a hand saw”… That’s a sign to restore the saw to a brand new condition!!

    In relation to the article, if instead of using a Forstner bit to use to make the hole for the serrated part of the screw, can you use a countersink bit to make a cone shaped hole, so it has more contact surface within the wood without splitting the handle apart when you tight the end cap? It’s a very interesting article… I don’t know if they exist, but a cheap option could be using brass carriage bolts and then screw the end cap…

    Again, thanks a lot in all your patience and dedication you have in every one of your videos, Paul.

    Cheers! Take care!!!

  18. Joystick on 20 February 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Just like to say thank you Paul for this and the previous blog about re-shaping the S&J panel saw handles and replacing the rivets with screws and caps, I requested (along with a few others) just such a write-up or video and lo and behold you’ve come up trumps!
    Your discovery of a less than satisfactory screw and cap product/supplier will help so many of us falling for this item, along with all the hassle of returning the product for a refund. Yes, it does not make sense that just a little more care in designing could have produced a much more fit for purpose product (unless you happen to have a thin saw handle of course!) You are of course 100% correct, a simple line drawing giving accurate dimensions would have avoided customers (including yourself) purchasing a product that just isn’t suitable. Being the cynic that I am, I do wonder if the product description was purposely vague or inaccurate?
    Looking forward to your next instalment on this subject.
    Cheers!

    • Paul G on 23 February 2020 at 11:58 pm

      If the supplier is the one we’re probably all assuming it is then there is no problem using the brass bolts with 7/8th inch handles. The bolts will engage the threaded cap and you’ll get about 2 1/2 to 3 turns before they’ll be holding rock solid. You’ll get an extra turn if they’re replacing steel bolts as they’ve usually compressed the wood over the years. With M5 threads that is sufficient for their purpose.

      An inch wide handle will be pushing it but as has been said, 7/8th inch is fairly standard so don’t be so quick to dismiss them in that case.

      Paul, can I ask what the thickness of the SJ saw handles are out of interest? Are they a little thicker than might be expected by any chance? Or maybe the fact that the SJ saws had those compression fit riveted fittings means that the brass saw bolts don’t fit quite as well as they would on a saw handle that had steel bolts fitted before. I actually think that’s very likely a factor worth considering.

      • Paul Sellers on 24 February 2020 at 1:19 am

        All I said was that they didn’t engage in 7/8″ thick wood which they didn’t and neither would the threads engage. You are saying they do but none of the 8 sets did. The wooden handles on four saws by the same S&J maker all measured 7/8″ between outer surfaces with a vernier and maybe a paper thickness on one, no more, over. The handles were slightly compressed from the compression with the studs too so should have engaged but still didn’t. The maker extending the barrel will resolve the issue which seems a simple long-term solution.

        • John Murrell on 24 February 2020 at 8:41 pm

          Paul,

          See my suggestion below for using furniture connector nuts instead.

  19. Ken on 21 February 2020 at 1:08 am

    Thank you for clarifying an issue which, for me, will be 40 years old next year!

    I bought some new studs for an old saw back in 1981. The shop I got them from had a good and long-standing reputation and, in those pre-internet days was the only place I knew where I could get them. When I got them home, I quickly found they had the utility value of a chocolate teapot because they were too short (as explained in the blog the maie thread would not reach the female thread).

    I have not bought studs since then but have resorted to ‘alternative methods’ (i.e. I have bodged solutions with varying degrees of ugliness and inelegance).

    In the intervening decades, I have learned that
    a) nearly all old saws have handles of very similar thickness
    b) The studs I purchased (I still have them somewhere) were never a fit for any saw I ever met!

    So, it appears that sometime in the latter half of the 20th century, a new de facto British Standard was created. Saw handle studs which do not fit any standard handle they are ‘designed’ for.

    Given that we do not want to thin our standard-thickness saw handles to fit the ‘new standard’ studs I guess there is only one way to turn the current situation to advantage.

    Does anyone have any (polite) suggestions as to what the ‘New Standard’ saw studs might be useful for?
    If we can find a use for these ‘New Standard’ studs, we can all sleep easy at night without worrying about the march of progress (or maybe not!)

  20. Bob on 21 February 2020 at 5:00 am

    In the US Chicago bolts work just fine. They’re cheap, available in brass and stainless, and look just like the vintage bolts. My local hardware store has them in many sizes and you can get them on Amazon.

  21. Sylvain on 22 February 2020 at 4:49 pm

    “the saddest failures for both state-run and private education”
    This is probably an exception, but look for “école Boulle” in Paris – France.
    Sylvain

    • Sylvain on 22 February 2020 at 4:56 pm

      look more specifically for videos titled “les métiers d’art à l’école Boulle”/
      Sylvain

  22. Sylvain on 23 February 2020 at 10:08 am

    Those bolts are known under many names.
    For a list to help find them on the net, look at third paragraph in
    wikipedia sex bolt.
    (we don’t need funny comments about this name)

    • Paul Frederick on 24 February 2020 at 4:38 pm

      I need funny comments.

  23. John Murrell on 24 February 2020 at 8:38 pm

    I recently made a replacement handle for a Sandvik sheet saw – the plastic handle had failed. Looking at the price of the proper bolts as above I decided they cost far more than the saw was worth. Having recently assembled some shop brought furniture I decided that the economy way of making the bolts was to buy some ‘Furniture Connector Nuts’ these are available in different diameters & lengths. Combine two of these with a short length of metric studding and you end up with fastenings for any thickness of handle. The nuts typically use a hex (Allen) key to tighten them so it is quite simple to tighten them if the handle becomes loose. Put a drop of soft set Loctite on the threads if you are worried about them working loose.

    No need for a special split screwdriver. Being plated steel the nuts may not be as aesthetic as the proper brass ones but are quite low profile with rounded corners.

    The handle was made of a laminate of two pieces of 9mm plywood with the gap for the blade being created by sandwiching a piece of veneer the same thickness as the blade in the middle. This also allowed the gap to be made the same shape as the rear of the blade that had been made to fit the plastic moulding rather than a shape that was possible to cut with tools.

    Result a saw revived for under a pound.

    • John Murrell on 24 February 2020 at 10:49 pm

      I did a bit of internet research and you can get Furniture Connector Nuts in brass as well as steel with a variety of finishes including antique if that takes your fancy. A few shops also sell them in stainless steel.

      The critical thing is not to cut the studding too long so it bottoms on the threaded holes before clamping the saw blade – however it only needs a bit of sawing or filing to shorten the stud.

      One tip when cutting or filing the cut end of a piece of studding or a bolt, screw a plain nut (or two) on the thread before you cut or file it. When you have completed the cutting & filing wind the nut(s) off over the cut end. If you do this the end of the thread that is normally burred over will open up and it will make it much easier to screw the cut thread into a nut or hole.

      Two or more nuts make it easier to hold the studding or bolt in a vice without damaging the thread – hold the nuts in the vice instead while you do the cutting & filing.

  24. Jeffrey Dustin on 25 February 2020 at 12:41 pm

    The reason folks with low skill may buy pricey tools comes down to a few issues:
    1. Ignorance: what is a good price range?
    2. Greed: it is shiny while the old saw is dull and rusty.
    3. Intimidation: ps is the Tiger of Woods. I can’t do most of what he does before breakfast. His apprentices would laugh at my woodworking…after it fell apart!
    4. Time vs. Money. Usually if you have one you don’t have lots of the other.
    5. Best quest: i must have the best kit or i can’t do anything.
    6. Fear of failure: if i have to tune up stuff i will wreck a saw…better leave it to an expert in a shiny catalog.

  25. Alan Knowles on 2 March 2020 at 9:46 pm

    I have encountered two wooden saw handles that could not be removed because the m/f had punched the holes in the steel leaving a deformed section within the hole. I have tried drilling to no avail. The first time I ended up breaking the handle and had to glue it together again.
    Have you encountered this problem? Is there a solution?

  26. Patrick Rogers on 9 May 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Great information. New reader here. Will be doing this on a one man logging crosscut saw as it needs a new handle.

    Do you have any information on straightening a wavy/deformed draw knife blade? It’s not much but it does bother me. Can not find any information on correcting this online.

    • Paul Sellers on 10 May 2020 at 9:19 am

      Just live with it and get used to it. Draw knives need not be straight and fixing can result in breaks.

  27. Patrick D Rogers on 10 May 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you sir, will do.

  28. Mike H on 23 May 2020 at 1:43 am

    Hey. So I bought a saw on eBay that has two brass pieces holding the handle to the plate but the handle is loose. It’s held together in the style I think of lie Nielsen And Rob Cosman saws. I’ve never seen either in person so I’m going off pictures. They aren’t screws. I can see on both sides it looks like there is a pentagonal pin through the handle and plate and on either side they go through a round brass piece that is recessed and then the pin was cut flush and everything polished. I’d like to take the saw apart and clean everything but I would settle for just tightening. Maybe ball peen is the answer but again if anyone knows how I can get it apart I would appreciate it. I can send who ever a picture if needed. Thanks!

Leave a Comment





  • Roberto Fischer on Listening Up! It’s Important!I'd love to hear more about the sounds of a wooden plane when setting the wedge. What's the best for sound and tactile feedback when adjusting the plane: wooden mallet, metal hamme…
  • Jeff D on Listening Up! It’s Important!I'm excited for taste the 3-in-1!
  • Joe on Listening Up! It’s Important!Thanks Paul. This should be an interesting topic. I recall you talking about the sense of feel, sound, and smell when I first started watching your woodworking videos. At first I c…
  • Paul Sellers on Not Good, Not Good!Then I will discontinue our dialogue as we agree to disagree.
  • YrHenSaer on Not Good, Not Good!@Paul Sellers I have no interest in either the book in question or Japanese techniques. I said, plainly, that the tone of the review, a criticism such as the one you wrote of one a…
  • KEVIN NAIRN on Not Good, Not Good!I work as a carpenter and have lots of books on carpentry and joinery. In one of my older books, there's a mistake on a cut roof (a cut roof is a roof where the rafters and other p…
  • Paul Sellers on Not Good, Not Good!I am not altogether sure what you are saying. Tell me this, had I decided to contact the publisher, would he then have stopped selling the book he had little to do with except copy…