Saws – Sharpening and Refurbishment

If you are a beginner, the following link from our beginner site, Common Woodworking, may be useful to you:

What tooth pattern should I sharpen too?

For any saws that are 10ppi plus we sharpen them to a rip cut pattern for both ripping and cross cut work. This covers all the saws that we use daily at the bench. It is only when we go for less ppi than 10 that we would sharpen cross cut.

How do you sharpen a saw?

Handsaw/Panel saw

Crosscut saws

How do you recut the teeth on a saw?

Sometimes teeth on a saw need recutting as they are not sharpenable as is:

If your hacksaw is struggling to cut new teeth, then it could be that your hacksaw blade is not of great quality, or the saw blade is to hard for it to cut. We are happy with the Zona and Olsen blades we have tried. More information is available here.

How do you set a saw?

Ripcut Saw 

Paul covers this at the end of his saw sharpening video here:

You can also apply set using a hammer and punch, which is often the better method for saws with smaller teeth, such as fine dovetail saws:

Crosscut Saw

How often do you apply set to a saw?

This is hard to answer definitively. If you have just set a saw, it should last for a good few sharpenings before it needs setting again. New saws often come over set, in which case see the article below on reducing set. The easiest way to see if you need to apply set, is that the saw starts clogging in the cut once you have sawn down into the cut if there isn’t enough set.. If you carefully feel either side of the teeth with your thumb and forefinger, you can usually tell if there is any set by feel.

Why and how do you reduce set?

We use the hammer to reduce set on saws that arrive with too much set or when you apply set using a saw set or other method after sharpening and you want to reduce it slightly. This is particularly relevant with small tooth saws as they need very minimal set. You wouldn’t have to set a saw after every sharpening, but after sharpening the saw several times you have often removed quite a bit of material and therefore set. Using a saw does not increase the set. I feel that sometimes it may gradually reduce the set, but this might more accurately just be the saw not being as sharp. Here is the technique used for reducing set using two hammers:

Which saw files should I get?

See all the info on saw files here.

Can you change crosscut saws to ripcut (and vice versa)?

It is often possible to just file the saw as if it were a rip saw (and vice versa). Sometimes it takes a number of passes to convert the teeth to a rip cut pattern depending on the thickness of the plate (and the number of teeth).

How do your remove a bend from a saw?

For tenon saws: Is the back bent or is the blade bottomed out in the back? Sometimes that means that the back isn’t pinching and holding the blade straight:

For all saws: To get a slight bend out of the plate, you have to flex it back in the opposite direction. Try gently at first, check it, then more firmly if necessary. If there is a kink or dent, then they are harder to remove:

One other thing it could be is set, so it having more set on one side than the other. See ‘Why and how do you reduce set?’ further up the page. Here is a useful blog post on correcting saws that don’t cut straight:

Other than that it can be an aspect of sawing technique and making sure you’re not pushing down too hard when sawing.

My frame saw/bowsaw isn’t cutting straight. Can you help?

Is the slot that receives the blade completely straight? Is the whole frame of the saw straight, or is there some built in twist? Also have a look at the blade in isolation to check for any kinks or such. It can be due to being overly or unevenly set, in which case you can follow the instructions in the following video: See our YouTube video for further info:

This generally leaves sufficient set in the teeth for the saw to be used. Often this will take care of the inequality. If not, reset the teeth using a sawset.