Independents in micro-businesses are few and far between and often hard to discover, despite the internet’s ever-increasing web of enterprises. The backbone of British industry is made up of small, independent people striving to retain a measure of individualism, independence and entrepreneurialism in their lives. Statistics from 2019 show that in Britain there were 5.82 million small businesses responsible for 99.3% of the total business output in the UK.

Small businesses here comprise those with 0-49 employees and digging deeper still into what might at first seem more irrelevant than relevant is that the niche that small businesses fill in the real world of enterprise. Over 76% of businesses are operated by one-man bands; single-person enterprises who operate alone comprise almost 4.5 million men and women. With an additional 1.15 million micro-business (1-9 employees) around 95% of businesses here operate on a strength of under just 10 people. So over 99% of small to medium business enterprises, that’s zero to 249 employees, but only 0.6% have a workforce of 50-249 employees. Less than 4% are small businesses with 10-49 staff members and get this, over 95% operate as micro-businesses with 0-9 employees. What does this tell you about businesses output. What it tells me is how little of this is newsworthy by the mass media manufacturing companies (Like BBC New and ITV, Sky and so on) who constantly tell us about how many this massive company or that massive company is laying off and how little this really affects our economy because the little guys still get out into their little micro-shops and make what cannot work work.

So this prefaces my post here today. There is a man I have come to know called Jacob who owns a business called Jakob’s SawRevival and the name says it all. He and I became friends two years or so ago. and later when I bought a 16″ Disston saw with a beautiful replaced handle from him because I collect them. We both have a joint interest in autism too.

Ko likes the restoration of handsaws and can take a pitiful saw and restore it for those who want a user saw and then too, as many do, want a restored saw for sentimental reasons. He is unusual in that he has perfected the rare art and skill of shaping, reshaping, and making saw handles along with his hand sharpening and setting up of saws altogether. Hand filing is a skillful craft and customising the saw teeth to a particular task maximises your efficiency.

Anyway, I do recommend this small enterprise because I know the man behind it and if you need your saw setting up then send it to this micro-business. You’ll love the results. Here is a link to his site.

19 Comments

  1. Rob Ling on 17 June 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for sharing, I have a real affinity for old hand tools since I inherited a lot of both of my grandfather’s tools when they passed.

    Jacob’s work looks incredible and I look forward to following his blog as it grows. The Rowan handle especially caught my eye as I felled a rowan in my garden a few weeks ago.

    I’ve since bought a few saws that need work and am getting to grips with hand filing. I have both a modern S&J rip which cuts straight and true and an older “Spearior” that was bundled in the same ebay listing.

    The old Spearior has cleaned up remarkably well (apart from a split in the handle which I may be sending Jacob’s way for repair). The plate is now rust free, sharp and I can see the etch again. It fits my hand so much better than the modern S&J.

    In use it’s fine for shorter rip cuts but I have a problem with either my technique or the saw on longer rips (more likely the technique).

    I’m right handed and on ripping down some 3/4″ pine at the weekend I discovered the plate seems to naturally end up in a curve slightly to the left in the cut – just enough to affect my accuracy. It just doesn’t appear to have the same stiffness as it’s modern counterpart which doesnt seem to be affected the same way – I can start that straight and it stays straight.

    Have you any ideas what I might be doing wrong?

    It’s a lovely saw both in looks and feel and I’m drawn to use it more than my modern version. I know its probably not worth much but it would mean a lot to get it/me fettled to work together properly.

    Thanks in advance,
    Rob

    • Rob Ling on 19 June 2020 at 8:11 am

      Hi Paul,
      I watched back the Q&A on listening to the tools on YouTube last night. Someone else had the same issue.

      You mentioned it may be a problem with the sharpening technique or the set, or technique. This will give me enough to go on.

      I’ll knock all the set out and resharpen and see what happens next.

      Thanks so much

  2. Bob Easton on 17 June 2020 at 2:39 pm

    THANKS for those statistics Paul!
    I have long known that small businesses produce most of the things & services we value. It is very interesting to see the actual numbers for your country.
    Thanks

  3. Rebecca Snel on 17 June 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you for your kind words Paul, God bless you!

  4. Steve P on 18 June 2020 at 5:56 am

    Looks great, i wonder what the shipping would be to the West Coast US. I sure hope he is ready to be inundated with email requests.

  5. Jim B on 18 June 2020 at 9:28 am

    “Statistics from 2019 show that in Britain there were 5.82 million small businesses responsible for 99.3% of the total business output in the UK”

    Is this correct? or perhaps I’m not reading what you are intending correctly? From the same website where (I assume you got the stats):

    “SMEs account for… around half of turnover in the UK private sector”. So about 50% of the output (depending on how you define output).

    The 99.3% figure is the proportion of all businesses that are small businesses I think.

    • Paul Sellers on 18 June 2020 at 11:42 am

      Hmm! May have misread the info I got. Still impressive even so.

      • Jim B on 18 June 2020 at 11:59 am

        indeed! With all the big multinationals I think people forget how important all these small businesses are.

  6. Andrew S on 18 June 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Paul. I love Jakob’s site, lots of beautiful saws and some interesting personal stories in there too!

    His saw services looks great value for those starting out, who buy second hand saws but then can’t get them to work well. Actually I have a couple in my garage 😉 … postage from Australia is prohibitive however.

    I’m blown away by some of his handle reworks, as good as the very best Disstons to my eye.

  7. Gav on 18 June 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Where are you located Andrew? there may be other readers who can send you in the right direction in Australia. I am in WA

    • Donald L Kreher on 18 June 2020 at 1:48 pm

      There are also such small businesses in the states too. For example you might want to check out “loon lake tool works” , which my friend in Michigan owns.

  8. Eric R, Bittner on 18 June 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Paul, you’re spot on about the value and necessity of small businesses. One of the many thingsI loved about living in the UK was going to some small business or shop for some specialty item, sometimes custom made in the shop. There was always a certain special attention to detail and quality. They’re becoming harder and harder to find in the US as well. We see far too many of these disappear every day and I like to go out of my way to go to these shops, even if it’s a bit more costly and less convenient.
    Thanks!

  9. Godfrey Millinso on 18 June 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Paul,
    Great close up of the sharpened teeth, and to me the saw handle is to the right of the photograph, out of view. Where the teeth have been set to lean to the far side of the blade it would seem that the file has been held by it’s handle on the near side of the saw with an angle of approximately 30° between the line of the file and a horizontal line through the gullet at 90° to the blade, and the main part that has been filed is the back of the tooth, (so the file would have been in the second gullet from the left in the photograph). To me the resulting shape of the gullet would appear to be brought about by the handle of the file being a small amount lower than the level of the bottom of the gullet. Would you advise me on my current understanding or have I indeed got it completely back to front . I apologise for the long winded approach but have been confused when looking at other close ups compared with the description of the file holding angles. So in summary if seen from a position stood behind the saw handle, looking directly along the upturned blade, and the file ready to file the rear of the teeth set to the right, the file’s handle would be seen on the left side of the blade, resting in the gullet and the file would slope upwards from the left side to the right side and the file handle will be further away from the saw handle than the file’s tip on the right of the blade. All direction and advice greatly appreciated.

    • nemo on 18 June 2020 at 4:36 pm

      “and the main part that has been filed is the back of the tooth,”

      I’m not mr. Sellers and not sure I understand your question/problem, but whenever I’m sharpening a saw, I recall from a video where mr. Sellers remarked:

      ‘you always sharpen the back of the tooth that is leaning away from you’.

      Not sure if you know that or not and if it would help you with your problem.

  10. […] Paul Sellers reminds us that the economy is far more than just the big names that get mentioned in the financial pages: […]

  11. C Ford on 19 June 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Paul.

    One of the (many!) challenges I’ve faced as a new woodworker is the ability to differentiate between the good, the bad and the mediocre suppliers of services like this. Your experience puts you in a great position to point people like me in the right direction.

    I understand that you may have very good reasons for not making these recommendations more frequently and respect your decision to do so – but more pointers like this would be extremely helpful, to me at least.

  12. Richard Noonan on 19 June 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for this post. I live about a mile from Jakob so will definitely be making use of his skills.

  13. Patrick Sadr on 20 June 2020 at 11:45 am

    👏🏼

  14. Ian Lockwood on 22 June 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Hi Paul,
    There is a slow change away from big multinational manufacturing. It is possible to now get modern CNC machines that will fit in your garage and the possibilities to set up a small micro tool business are better than they have been for a long time. Shane Skelton makes beautiful saws at home by hand, yes they are expensive but they are bespoke hand made items. I am continuing to work on my project to make 1399 style router planes here in England again. Covid has scuppered my plans a little. I hope to make them for less than or equal to a Veritas or Lie Nielsen type of router planes. A friend of mine has just kitted out a new woodturning school in Hartlepool, he like me still has a day job but i hope he can make a full time living from it. I wish everyone who tries their hand at something entrepreneurial the best of luck, its hard, scary but spiritually rewarding.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply





  • Matison on A Future PastI should have said “write MORE books”, as there are already some quality woodworking books that have already written by Mr Sellers.
  • Hampton on A Few Years AgoWow Paul! That is a beautiful chest and a beautiful story. Any chance you would do a WWMC series on building one of these?
  • JEAN CLAUDE PEETERS on My Latest Giveaway is now OPEN!Well done! And good luck to the participants!
  • Matison on A Future PastIf ever there is a time in the future when you can no longer work wood (I hope it never happens), I would encourage you to write books. Books about woodworking, your life or anythi…
  • Roy Montgomery on My Latest Giveaway is now OPEN!Well done Paul. You inspired me to start woodworking with hand tools so thanks
  • Tom OBrien on A Future PastPaul, Thank you once again for a great narrative. I still remember a half-day course you presented at Elm Mott many years ago. I have tried to impart a little of what I learned in…
  • Eric Michaelsen on My Latest Giveaway is now OPEN!Congratulations! Absolutely deserved. Hope those tools come to Argentina!