Sharpen Your Teeth

I sometimes think saw sales and the makers shoot themselves in the foot. Whether it is because they fail to change with the times or just plain shortsightedness, I can’t tell. Perhaps that’s a little strong but don’t think it is even strong enough. There is though something about old businesses that are prepared to just survive rather than prosper and serve. I think it must be two decades ago when I wrote for a US woodworking magazine suggesting some UK makers put out a tool kit disguised as a fully functioning tool rather than a quality product designed and made to work. It is no wonder that people buy competitor tools and tell me how an Eastern this or that is better than a Western other. Truth is, some tools look good and fit for purpose yet when engaged in the wood they become dull and sloppy.

This Crown gent’s saw is one such tool. The wooden handle is nicely formed to fit the hand perfectly and it is indeed nicely finished, the brass back is plenty stout and rigid enough, it has a nice brass ferrule and, overall, it is built to last. The saw plate is exactly the right thickness and of the right steel to last for a lifetime of several woodworkers working full time and most importantly the teeth will take and hold a good edge. What stymies this saw is that it, along with thousands upon thousands of others they have supplied through at least three decades to my knowledge, is they are sent out unsharpened. I know, it makes no sense and yet it does make sense if as in times past they knew the new owners would automatically sharpen the saw first. This was of course when they supplied the trade and the knowing woodworker. Those days have long since gone. Crown cannot see that their prospective buyers are those who mostly have never even considered that the saws might not be sharp but that the reason they not effective is them, the users. Nothing could be further from the truth. What Crown and other UK makers didn’t and [possibly still don’t know is that people, potential customers, have shifted from buying European and US makers to buy Japanese throwaway saws because at least their saws arrive sharp and ready to go.

Were you to buy a Japanese saw, and most now are made by Eastern communities like Taiwan and China as well as Japan, you will most likely buy into a throwaway economy to buy a saw destined for either the landfill or recycling. Why? These makers want returning customers. They harden the teeth of all their saws so that we woodworkers cannot do what we really might prefer to do and that is to sharpen our own saws time and time again for decades. That way they have a guaranteed moneymaker because we will keep going back for a new saw replacement. And instead of us learning how to do a three- or four-minute task in resharpening our saws and using saws that would then last for a century, we buy into the economy of companies who see only planned obsolescence and a guaranteed way to make more money.

In this image you can see that the teeth have been stamped out only and that the edges of the teeth remain unrefined . . .

In these two images, you can see before-and-after pictures of teeth in a new saw I purchased from Crown Sheffield, UK. It’s worth double the selling price of £17 because it is built to last. This saw takes me two minutes and 40 seconds to sharpen. It will hold an edge for 2-3 months of daily use but I sharpen mine more than that. In the decades that I have owned my first one of these, I have only reduced the plate depth by 4mm. It would therefore last about 100 years of daily use.

. . . This saw is the same saw with a single pass from my saw file through each individual gullet. See the teeth between the black arrows, how refined the teeth are now. The saw cuts supremely cleanly and at least twice as fast as before.

You can see how the teeth are punched out by a saw tooth toother, a machine set to depth that then determines the depth of the gullets by the spacing of the teeth. This is really the first of a two-step process and should be followed by a tooth filer. An automatic tooth filer is not the best method, hand filing is better, but it is better than no filing at all. If one was used in my new saw it is not apparent in the gullets so I think this step is negated to bring the price down to its lower point. This machine shear-cuts each gullet and you can see the bend from the impact reflecting in the slight buckling of the metal. It still needs that second process called sharpening, but even these rougher teeth will cut but poorly. Hand filing is a simple and quick-enough remedy to this slovenly practice so don’t be put off as sharpening needs to be done within a few weeks of purchase anyway.

All in all this short-sightedness is an industry problem with many old and ageing companies where owners either care too minimally about their name and reputation or indeed they feel it is not worth pursuing the quality so that they are of true service to their customers. If a hand filer could be had for £20 an hour he could likely sharpen a saw every five minutes. Doubling that cost for 12 saws would not cost but £2 more per saw more. Selling such a saw for £21 would add £2.44 profit which is not very much to pay for a lifetime saw.


  1. Two years ago I bought the Crown Gents saw online and was supremely disappointed in how poorly it cut out of the package. Having no experience sharpening a saw, and as importantly no saw files, I watched your instructional videos on the matter before setting to work with a cheapo set of needle files. I figured that the saw was inexpensive enough that I could risk destroying it while learning how to sharpen it. I need not have been worried. Even my inexperienced efforts while using suboptimal files resulted in a transformed saw and a transformed sawing experience. Now it cuts fast, clean, and smooth. I recommended this saw to a friend that recently completed his Sellers style work bench.

    Had your videos and blogs not been around I’d have still been saving money for a fully equipped machine shop and/or saving to purchase boutique/super expensive hand saws at ultra premium prices!

    Thank you so much for doing your work! You are making true woodworking accessible to thousands of people that wood otherwise not have the space, money, or inclination to equip a machine shop. Not to mention the sense of empowerment that one gains when they step back and take in something that they have created with their own hands! My dream shop has shrunk significantly in size as I continue to realize that I don’t need or even really want to have a shop full of machines.

    1. I had a similar experience with an inexpensive Bahco gents saw. Tested how many passes to cut full depth of blade…not bad. Sharpened as per Paul’s video, with inexpensive Fuller file. Cut same depth in half as many passes and cleaner cut
      The simple test was convincing, suggest others try it

  2. Is there an easy (relatively) way to tell which NEW hand saws are able to be sharpened? I haven’t come across any older hand saws locally which are in decent enough shape to try to restore and use.

    1. As a general rule of thumb, the majority of saws with a wooden handle can be resharpened.

    2. The number one way will be to look specifically at the teeth. If they’re blue-black they have been impulse-hardened. Impulse hardening is a method of changing the hardness of metal by a process involving both heating and cooling at split-second intervals. It’s this that changes the color of the teeth.

      1. Can we anneal and heat treat the teeth on these throwaways? Maybe using a propane blowtorch and a bin of vermiculite? That’d be a fun video!

        1. I tried two methods to sharpen induction hardened. Heating the teeth which failed as the entire saw warped – although now I am practicing with that saw to see about hammering the blade straight. The second method does work though and what you need is a diamond triangular “file” – basically the same as a diamond plate where the diamond is electroplated with nickel onto a file shape.

          These are hard to find where I live but they exist. Eventually you will get past the induction hardening and into the base metal. I guess then you can use a regular file but that is a long way off for me.

        2. I asked a saw doctor about impulse hardened teeth and what he did with them . The simple answer was to bring them off and start again and then the new teeth were able to be sharpened as standard.

        3. Earlier I tried heating an impulse hardened saw with a gas torch, but it left the teeth too soft. Next attempt I heated (tempered) an impulse hardened saw on a hot plate to just past purple-blue and it files beautifully while retaining good hardness. My next attempt would be to stop at purple and see how it files.

    3. I THINK (I’m no expert by any means!) the teeth of a saw with hardened teeth typically display a colorful blue/black appearance not present on the teeth of a non-heat treated saw. That seems to be true on my collection of saws, at least. If I’m wrong guys, just speak up! I don’t want to mislead anyone, and am always happy to learn myself.

      1. (Sorry, Paul! I missed that you had already answered with basically the same information! Teacher always said, “always read to the end before answering the question.”😀)

    4. Big box store handsaws that have deep gullets and long narrow teeth may unsharpenable. If they show bluing along the edge they are impulse hardened and the teeth are likely harder than a file. Even sharpened these saws are often inferior cutting saws. The tooth style was developed for Japanese pull saws. I have a “decent,” according to sources, Japanese industrially-made saw. It’s sharp but doesn’t cut nearly as cleanly as my old back saws. The teeth cannot safely be reset. I’ve collected a number of older Disstons and similar makes and they are readily sharpened and set.

  3. Is it possible to grind off the hardened teeth of a disposable saw and create new teeth in the unhardened part of the blade? It may not be worth the time and effort, but if one has plenty of these to spare, then would the result be a usable saw?

    1. Re removing the teeth of a hardened saw, I’ve seen comments on line that its not worth it as the metal of the rest of the plate is of such poor quality.

      If memory serves me correctly Paul did show how hardened teeth could be softened and resharpened using a blow torch on the Frame Saw video series on wmc.

  4. Absolutely spot on Paul. I bought one of these Crown Gent saws a few years back. It cut reasonably well as bought, but not as well as I thought it would. I was put off from sharpening it, even after watching your sharpening videos, because the teeth were so small (it’s an eyesight thing). However, having now sharpened larger toothed saws since then, finding it’s ‘feel’ as much as eyesight and technique that’s involved, I recently decided to have a go at the Gent saw. What a difference! I find myself reaching for it a lot more now.

    1. Paul

      I recently bought a Shinto rasp which sometimes I see is called a “saw file”. While I haven’t put a file to the teath I wonder if you have sharpened one, or is it also a throw away tool. My purchase was too reduce the rest on my hand cut rasps.

    2. I too have found myself a braille filer. On my Crown saw I bought files from jewellery tool supplier. Contenti in The U.S . will ship small quantities. The one I got is 14mmm ct4 pn-231-541-4. May try going up one size, but this size does let you use all sides. Very nice saw after sharpening.

  5. I’ve been making for two years now and started off with Japanese because of the whole thinner-blade-tensions-on-the-pull-stroke thing, despite Paul and The Anarchist’s entreaties. This last month, for environmental reasons, I’ve transitioned to Western back and handsaws. Bought (mixed new and 2nd hand) Thos. Flinn Pax 1776 DT and carcass saws, Sanderson/Tyzack handsaws and a veritas large tenon. Wished I’d done it sooner as these tools are a joy to use. I’ve even managed to resaw 4” beech post into 3/4” table aprons. Thank you Paul

  6. I picked up two old Brades Nash Tyzack handsaws, wooden handles saws just look so much nicer, not got round to thinking about sharpening yet. Just hope I don’t mess them up

  7. It was special when I took the leap & sharpened my 1st handsaw. My jaw dropped to experience the difference. I’ve taught my adult son and soon grandkids will get Pop’s handsaw sharpening class (thanks to PAUL!).
    Was working disaster relief with my Church Saturday south of town after tornado damage. The chain saw guys stopped at every fuel fill up & quickly sharpened the chain. One smiled as I asked if it also provided a bit of a break. That’s ok, he deserved it.
    Amazing how much can be learned if I just open my eyes.
    Now on to making a new handle for my Grandad’s old Diston.

  8. I saw a video of a guy taking one of these cheap gents saws, sharpening and setting it, and making a full handle for it and drilling the plate to attach the handle with brass screws. For about $30 he had a saw that would normally cost around $150.

  9. Great read Paul,
    The circular economy and sustainability are getting more important. Interesting to read about how we can all do our bit to retain these skills

  10. Any recommendations on Tenon saw size? I’m looking at getting a crosscut and a rip, but I’m unsure the benefits of 14 over 12 inch (length of stroke, versus control I expect). Anyone have any insight or thoughts on this subject?

    1. From 12”-14” the only difference you’ll find, in my opinion, is different weight. (This could vary depending on the maker.)
      You could also have 2 more TPI cut on the plate.
      Additionally, greater cut depth.

      My 12” tenon saw has done fine and I don’t see one or the other advantageous. Get what you can and sharpen up!

  11. Perhaps it only takes a couple minutes to sharpen a saw but try to sharpen one every couple of minutes all day long and see how that goes.

    1. I know a man that happily does this with no problems at all. And I have spent full days sharpening saws myself too. But no one suggested anyone do it all day long, really.

  12. Dear Paul. The truth is good tools are every year more difficult to find. People and economy is going a route to throw away stuff. Normal people can’t even understand the difference of something good compared to a 1 use and throw away. The only thing customers understand is the price. Many brands are struggling to compete the prices lowering their quality. Im afraid that next generations wont even have the ability to find good tools.
    P.s Thank you for your videos you have tought me everything I should know about woodworking and now I work as a woodworker. You changed my life!!! I hope i could meet you one day.

  13. Hi Paul,
    I think you are having a much larger positive effect than you realize. Your way of teaching and honesty will always reach a certain type of woodworker just as glitzy expensive power tools will grab at the other type. I’ve been always wanted to ask if you ever heard of or crossed paths with Roy Underhill while you were working here in the states. His PBS show planted the seed for many of us years ago. Where he was often a tour of how woodworking was once was, you came along and taught is in detail how to get better at it. Your videos and blogs are priceless.
    Would love to see you and Roy meet up somehow. Thanks again.

    1. I think that the hand tool woodworking “family” is fairly small, and many of the most popular teachers either know each other, or know of each other. I’ve watched videos by many teachers, from several countries. It’s welcome, but not too surprising, that many agree on a lot of things, even if specific techniques vary somewhat. My experience has been that we all learned from our teachers. I had one particular teacher who stated that there were a thousand ways to do things, but only a few of those were the most efficient. I suspect Paul would agree. It’s not about the destination, but rather the journey, the most important thing is to have fun while doing your best.

  14. In some places one can still find saw sharpening services. Before Paul taught me through his videos to sharpen a saw, I would send newly acquired hand saws out to be hand sharpened by someone who knew the skill.

    Look around. You might have one in your neighborhood.

    As for the manufacturer of the Crown Gent’s Saw, perhaps tooling for machine sharpening is beyond their ability to acquire the capital for the purchase and hiring and maintaining a staff of hand sharpeners equally costly for space, workbenches, tools, etc. I don’t know about the UK, but I doubt it would be possible to hire and maintain a staff of people whose job it is to sharpen stamped blades.

  15. Paul, what is the “best” brand or kind of file to use for sharpening, say, 15 to 22 TPI saws? I know it’s a triangular file but that’s all i know. Thanks

    1. This pdf file answers your question regarding size. Note that ‘We don’t recommend sharpening saws with more than 16tpi.’

      As for brand, it was Bahco, if I remember correctly. But definitely not Nicholson anymore; see links below for that.

      Try the search function at the top right of the page (magnifying glass), and you’ll find everything that he has written about them over the past years:

      Click on ‘saw files’ on the link below:


      There’s a lot of information on the topic (though, saw-file information seems to be nearly a decade old by now; much can change regarding saw file quality in that time).

  16. In the second picture – of the now sharpened saw – there are two teeth with black (sharpie?) marks. What is the purpose of those?

    Thanks as always!

    1. This is the section of teeth I photographed before I sharpened them for the second contrasting photo.

  17. Suggested solution: Crown advertise their quality and sustainability. They enclose “free” a saw file of correct size. Cost at scale minimal ( or partner up to promote a quality make of file). Add pamphlet on sharpening ( and setting ?) for almost no cost. Many people are now tired of throw away culture and looking for sustainable products;- you are not alone. Crown should show they are ahead of the game not behind
    it. Might still not appeal to on site workers whose tools may not live long to wear out anyway, being lost, “borrowed”, or driven over but would have helped many of the above commentators, and many others.

  18. Yes a saw set with saw and file would attract many enthusiasts I think and would tick many peoples sustainability boxes. I would be more than happy to buy all saws like that. I am one who makes the assumption that if I buy a saw / plane they would come ready to use out of the box. At a veritas demo I was surprised that they sharpen but then advised you take the corners off the blade to stop tram lines. It seems what ever we buy we need to maintain from day one as the best assumption, something I have only slowly taken on board. Great blog Paul.

  19. It is a huge environmental problem and milions of saws end up in the landfills with their plastic handles. We make a conscious choice to produce hundreds of tons of plastic and steel and devastate the environment. Since we are the environment we devastate ourselves. Producers just follow our craving for easy and effortless life but it does not happen to be so anyway.
    And that is throwaway saws only….

    1. I’d like to see some actual evidence that millions of saws end up in landfills. Sounds like a gross assumption to me. Not everything ends up in the landfill.

      1. Actually, it’s less likely than ever. Recycling metal and plastic is money too, so it’s more likely a cash crop for some systems. that said, there are dynamics to it that keep you coming back and all saws with hardened teeth are a bad choice for almost everyone and it is factored into the economy anyway.

  20. Hi Paul, trust all is well with you and your family. I agree with your comments. I have some wonderful old saws which belonged to my dear late Father who was a cabinet maker and joiner. I spent a fair while cleaning them up recutting the teeth on two and making a new handle out of Iroco for one. They are all back to there former glory and were well worth the time and effort. When I pick any of the saws up you instantly know you have a top quality tool in your hand. The only Japanese saw I use is a tree pruning saw and I purchased some diamond files from Japan to sharpen this saw which brings it back like new. Have a great day fellow tradesmen

  21. I support everything said already. And that the Crown Gent’s saw that I bought and using Paul’s simple sharpening of the rip teeth, transformed the saw into my go-to daily user. I have several much more expensive Western style DT saws that now stay unused in the bench drawer as this nice gent’s saw feels like an extension of my hand and cuts perfectly. I even use it for crosscuts on smaller moldings and similar.
    Michael O’Brien

    1. Yes, they cut well in both directions as I explained in my book and gave reasons why too.

  22. Thank you Paul.

    Another way they could increase their custom would be to ensure their website works properly for all of their potential clients.

  23. When I worked in the carpentry and joinery department at Gloucester tech college, as a technician, we did an experiment on a SharePoint saw. We ground off all the hardened teeth and recut the teeth in the hardened saw plate. It did not work , the saw plate was to sort to take and hold an edge.

  24. There are lots of things Crown could do here to offer a value add service:

    1. Offer saw unrefined as is.
    2. Offer saw hand sharpened at a premium.
    3. As poster above said, offer file plus saw plus link to YouTube at a different premium.

    I think the time is right now to use a little imagination and entrepreneurship. I also think they need to address their pricing to realistic and sustainable levels, and not try to compete with a disposable saw, which really serves a different market. They’ll never get out of the doldrums otherwise. It’s really incredible the apparent dearth of a modern business outlook, or the seeming lack of understanding of the sustainability and heritage trends.
    It’s not always all about the price.

  25. I went with a Japanese saw (Suizan Ryoba saw). My reasoning: got me a sharp Cross Cut & Rip saw, removed saw quality as a factor in my poor skills, removed the need to learn to sharpen a 2nd hand saw and fix any other issues it had, saved a lot of money over buying quality western saws. It got me going and let me focus on building my saw skills, which are now good. I will have to buy a replacement blade or come up with another solution at some point, but this solved my early problem – poor quality cross cuts due to a poor quality 2nd hand western saw (not at all sharp and a rip saw rather than a cross cut saw). Ryoba saws bring people into the craft and the fastest and cheapest way to get someone making quality cuts. If you can’t cut straight, you’re not ready to learn much more. I’m guessing there are a lot more users among the Sellers subscribers who primarily use a Japanese saw than will admit it. Cheers

    1. I see no reason for anyone to hide or be ashamed about using a Japanese pull-stroke saw. Each to his own I’d say. You’ve given good reasons for not wanting to master all aspects of woodworking with western saws, many people want to learn to sharpen, master crosscutting with a western etc. Did you know that many people find such saws of this kind more difficult to use? They don’t make it a better way, just different. There are as many reasons for not buying Japanese pull-strokes as there are to buy them. I own two or three too. I rarely use them because they’re mostly good in a situation once a year where I need a pull stroke not a push.

    2. I went through the exact same thought process as you, and I agree with everything that you say — in my mind it makes perfect sense. I balked when I learned that they are throwaway because I don’t like to support that business model when possible. So, I have a backsaw. As a child I was introduced to hand saws using a push stroke anyways so it’s very familiar in that way. My daughter prefers a pull stroke so she bought a Japanese-style saw and she is very happy with it, which is what really matters. Different strokes for different folks, literally!

      1. I don’t altogether agree that something that makes us happy is what really matters, Scott. Having lived with many tools, one of the greatest and most freeing of working revelations to me has been how to sharpen all of my tools and then to be able to customise the cuts of every tooth on my saw and saws and every other cutter and blade. I agree that having something that takes only little effort seems more apt to please us, but mastery of all else far surpasses this and very, very few I have ever met in recent woodworking circles and years know how to truly sharpen and customise the saws they use. ~We have made inroads into this but if the western saws are so easy to sharpen, why not master sharpening and have non-throwaways that we can, as I have, enjoy the same saw for five decades and more. Could it possibly be that she has yet to discover this joy? How will she know, if she believes that she has already arrived? Just asking the questions here, Scott. Always afraid that we sell our children short. 98% of Japanese saws available are now highly engineered throwaway versions or at best recyclable but you do have to keep going back to the breastmilk of economic sterility and mass-manufacturing I’m afraid.

        1. I am of the same mind as you I think — I fairly quickly recognized that sharpening is a necessary skill to master if I am to be successful, and I do enjoy the process and the results. I appreciate what you are saying about learning about the joy and pride that comes with owning and maintaining quality tools, and I do want my daughter to have that. When her saw is worn out, she’ll have a choice of either buying a new one or owning a Disston backsaw I recently bought (for $15 Canadian!). By that time, hopefully she’ll have seen how easy it’s been for me to maintain my saw and she’ll make the, in my opinion, better choice. Until then, I hope she enjoys using her Japanese saw as that will motivate her to continue woodworking. Somewhat like what Michael mentioned, she will be encouraged by her early successes and if a Japanese saw enables that then it’s fine by me.

  26. I have cracked sharpening cross cut saws through Paul’s videos but still struggle with sharpening rip saws, I just can’t grasp what should be a fundamental techneque . I understand the need for a cross cut and rip cut saws so when I find it hard to sharpen the rip cut saw it really annoys me as my cross cut saws are spot on.

    1. The issue mostly with rip saws is the pitch of the teeth which is the fore-edge/front face of the teeth. If the face of the teeth is too vertical, that’s to say around 90-degrees to the long axis of the saw plate, it will be nigh on impossible to push the saw through and into ongoing cutting. By starting at a lower pitch first and then changing that pitch in subsequent sharpenings until you find a pitch that matches the work, the wood you are working and your physical strengths. You do not have to bottom out the gullet to change the pitch. Just the tipe.Then you can go back to what you had if you want to.

  27. I wish there were actual people behind brands, even small companies are hierarchies with unknown captain’s or known captain’s who are phoneys. There is no mechanism for change in the current world scene

  28. dear paul,
    as part of making a drawer back for your workbench tills, in 2015 you made a housing dado with a dovetail through it. the dovetail has 2 wedges in it. ( ). it is a nice looking joint, that i’d like to have a go at.
    1. are the wedges used here flat or v shaped?
    2. is the saw kerf for the wedges cut on an angle?
    3. does the kerf extend to the base of the dovetail, or does that weaken the structure?
    4. is there a rule of thumb you use for how far in from the edge the wedges need to be so as not to split off the edge?
    5. do you pare the end of the mortice wall when doing this joint?
    6. please might you consider making a video of doing one of these joints, as they seem somewhat unique?
    thankyou for sharing your knowledge with so many,
    kind regards

    1. don’t think that’s a dovetail PG its a through mortice and tenon i am nearly certain

  29. I have a veritas dovetail and beautiful old tyzack 12″ and a spear and Jackson panel saw some of your recommended saws but haven’t use them in a long time reason being is that i just cant get to grips we sharpening . no matter what i do or how many institutional videos i watch . my problem seems to be that the saw continually gets jammed in the cut and not near a smooth as say the veritas new . i am conflicted is it tooth height is it the set or is it the pitch and can never seem to remedy my issue so i have unwillingly purchased the throw away Japaneses saws but hey they come sharp and i get to make which is what makes me happy . i would love however to master this art of sharping saws

    1. David – if it’s getting jammed in the cut, my guess is that it has an inadequate set. That’s a little ironic because usually people have a problem with too much set which makes the saw wander and makes sawing slow. You might want to make sure that when you are setting that you’re actually moving the teeth slightly to alternating sides.

    2. You’ve left me with too much guesswork here, David, as you don’t say whether any of them are new but possibly old and unused thus far. Whereas most people owning and using pull-stroke (mostly mass-made unsharpenable ones) saws will sing their praises for ease of use, they well never broach the subject of built-in, throwaway obsolescence and shortness of lifespan. Why? No one selling saws wants to sell a lifetime saw. Even those manufacturers of resharpenable saws don’t expect their saws to be resharpened these days as most woodworkers will never sharpen a saw anyway and they will simply buy another when it goes dull. Assuming a couple of these saws are new, the Veritas, for instance, and the S&J, it could simply be that you have never mastered the difference between the Eastern methods of sawing and the Western. Most woodworkers using Japanese saws apply more pressure on the Eastern saws than we on western saws would. Also, you don’t say if the saws are ripcut or crosscut. Wood type can make a huge difference too. This may or may not have anything todo with the amount of set. Some people are too aggressive with saws of either type and then some people fail to realise that the whole shoulder to saw tip must be aligned through all of the links therein. i.e. shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. Skill must be developed and never just assumed. I recall a PhD student saying to me, “How hard can this be? I have my PhD yet to get the saw to cut in a straight line seems almost impossible for me. Therein lay the problem. He associated himself as having a higher level of intelligence than a manual worker and assumed that that qualified him in superiority across the whole spectrum of life. With a bad attitude like that he will never be able to saw straight and that is like many who think that owning a PhD means they have arrived. All they really learned at that level was to read and write. They must still be trained to be skilfully employed.

  30. Paul,
    This relates to an earlier post. Your discussion on repurposing chair seats to make footstools struck my fancy as I had four maple chairs languishing in storage. After a bit of deconstruction I had a stool blank 14″ wide and 15″ deep. That is when fabricating legs and making leg holes began to be a problem. In your blog picture I eyeballed rake and splay angles as 10 degrees and 5 degrees respectively. How close was I to yours? I had never attempted angled legs before and arriving at the bore angle for the 1″ leg holes was confusing till I found a graph paper method to solve for that angle 10.6 degrees with a 35.75 degree sight line. That process would make a good followup blog post. Like a lot of things it is simple, once learned. Thanks for the idea, my granddaughter loves her new playroom stool. Her teacher wants one so it is template time.
    Paul Meredith

  31. My biggest complaint when buying a western saw, the teeth are as dull as me! I used eastern saws for decades because they do come sharp sharp right out of the package. It has only been the last 6-7 years I have come back to western saws because I was struggling to find decent saws large or small with decent rip style teeth. Thanks to Mr. Sellers and his help I have been re-learning to sharpen saws (yup – I vaguely knew how to sharpen a saw 40+ years ago but let the skills lapse for many reasons). I am often still disappointed these companies send out so many tools that are more of a kit than a finished product – very frustrating. Thanks to Mr. Sellers and his crew for getting our skills back up to snuff!

  32. thanks david os – think you are right, my terminology was wrong (am learning a lot here, its awesome).

    ps – i think paul sellers may sometimes make these through tenons into ‘kinda dovetails’ -> perhaps by angled paring of the outer aspect of the mortise, then using the wedges to force the through tenon into a trapezoid (dovetail) shape. not 100% clear on this however, or the exact mechanics.

    – more info on wedged tenons is at (but doesnt talk about the above joint in detail)
    – also useful is

    as an aside, the mortise in the pictures at appears to be a cut longer across the grain than with the grain (??), which i read elsewhere seems to be frowned on; but presumably in the real world if the mortise is small, it doesnt matter.

    happy easter to all.

  33. A number of years ago (probably 1970s or 80s) British motorcycle manufacturers were failing. Someone pointed out to me that there were those in power in the motorcycle industry that thought a great Sunday afternoon pastime was scraping carbon from cylinder heads. Needless to say this feeling wasn’t shared by their customers. Could this problem with saws be a manifestation of the same thinking?

    I’ve never sharpened a saw but am eager to learn. But I’m the guy who actually reads the owner’s manual. A personal problem, I’m sure.

  34. I bought one a few months ago more so out of curiosity than need. I sharpened it and put it to work and almost instantly fell in love with it. It doesn’t doesn’t saw any better than my dovetail saw but equally as well as my dovetail saw for only a fraction of the price. If I knew then what I know now I could have saved myself $200+ and bought myself the crown for only $40. But Paul Sellers was no where to be scene back then. He was too busy scouting the Texas countryside, chasing bulls and running buffalos. 🙂

  35. From my youth I remember my dad sharpening the teeth on metal framed fire wood bow saw blades. The blades were much deeper than the throw away versions I now have. However, both of the frames I have, were inherited from long dead relatives. I have replaced the plastic handles on disposable saws when the blade has outlived the handle. I do own a Sandvik resharpenable saw that I have used for some time, mainly because of the poor quality handle. But I might sharpen it, see how well it cuts, then do something about the handle.
    I also have an old Stanley with hardened teeth I inherited. Still does cut. The plastic handle is sold and was attached with brass screws, whereas the Sandvik has plastic welded “rivets”.

    Somehow we need to get away from this throw away culture. But that is a really big battle. I often think that many of the things that end up at recycling centres should be put on display for reuse before being disposed of. But I guess there is no will to do this.

  36. The problem with saws is that there will always be something that’s throw away. If you go the non sharpenable route, it’s the saw or the saw plate itself. If you go the sharpenable route, it’s the saw files.
    Japanese carpenters will have sharpenable saws, but these saws have such a complex geometry that they will usually just send it to a professional sharpener. I think the reason why the japanese saws that are imported are non sharpenable, is that we don’t have the japanese saw sharpeners.
    I personally like western saws and continental frame saws the best, but I’m not sure japanese saws are just money making throw aways

    1. Ah, you are not talking apples for apples and the assumption that all Japanese carpenters use resharpenable saws is truly questionable anyway. I would assume they mostly use power equipment in the same way westerners do. I don’t really think that Japanese carpenters, in general, are any different from western carpenters and that the access to a good quality throwaway will serve its purpose for them just as well as the ones westerners are using. As natural romantics, we want to think that German engineering is the best when in reality they have good and bad engineering just like we Brits do and Americans also. The Japanese are not exempt from mass-making, mass-making methods and using mass-making equipment so generalities don’t altogether work.

  37. Paul –
    I appreciate that in your videos you more often than not mention things that other teachers apparently don’t understand that we don’t ALL know these things.
    I enjoyed watching, and learning from, your saw sharpening video, as I am completely new to saw sharpening. You mentioned a technique for greatly increasing the time between sharpenings that you had developed – and you demonstrated it. BUT – you didn’t identify the tool that you used on the tips of the teeth. It looked like a very wide, plastic bodied nail polishing tool with abrasive on both sides. What is it???

    Thanks so very much for all you do,

Comments are closed.

Privacy Notice

You must enter certain information to submit the form on this page. We take the handling of personal information seriously and appreciate your trust in us. Our Privacy Policy sets out important information about us and how we use and protect your personal data and it also explains your legal rights in respect of it. Please click here to read it before you provide any information on this form.