Popular Woodworking 2003-10 № 136, страница 76

Popular Woodworking 2003-10 № 136, страница 76

Some students of woodworking history think the push stroke was developed in the West because we work on high benches, unlike Japanese craftsmen who work near the floor on low trestles or beams.

many craftsman-made saws are more delicate because of their thinner blades. Even the most robust craftsman-made saw should not fall into the hands of a beginning woodworker.

"Just because you have a $200 saw doesn't mean you will saw better," says Stanley. "It's important to practice the technique. Start with impulse-hardened saws. Don't get a $250 saw and break it. As your skills improve you can use thinner saws."

When using Japanese joinery saws, most everyone agrees that you shouldn't be aggressive or saw at a radical angle. Just a bit of downward pressure on the pull stroke is all it takes, and you shouldn't apply any downward pressure on the return push.

Facts About Western Saws

No one can deny that Japanese saws cut very well, but so do Western saws that are sharp and properly set. The problem is find-

ing Western saws suitable for woodworking. There are still some manufacturers of full-size Western saws that do a decent job for woodworking, including E. Garlick & Son, Pax, Paragon, Sandvik/ Bahco, Lynx and Augusta. Some of them also make joinery saws -backsaws with a rigid spine on the blade. And companies such as Lie-Nielsen and Adria now make premium joinery saws that are the equal of the outstanding saws of the 19 th century.

But by far, the biggest sources of quality Western saws are flea markets and auctions. Top-of-the-line Disston, Simonds and E.C. Atkins saws can be purchased for $5-$25. These, however, can be rusty, dull and bent. If you have no desire to restore one of these old saws, there is an alternative.

Pete Taran runs the web site VintageSaws.com, which is a sawyer's paradise. He takes classic handsaws and backsaws and returns them to their former glory by making them sharp, properly set and ready to cut. A vintage highly tuned handsaw or back-saw will cost between $80 and $150 at Vintage Saws.

The site also is a treasure trove of good historical information on saws. One of Taran's primary goals is to teach woodworkers how to sharpen their Western saws, which is easier than you might think.

He sells the files and saw sets you need, plus there is a fantastic tutorial on his web site that explains the process from start to finish. And if you just want to get your feet wet, Taran even offers a saw filing kit to get you started. The kit comes with a user-grade saw with freshly cut teeth, a file, a file handle and complete instructions. When you're done, you'll have some more confidence and a saw that cuts very well.

Sharpening a Western saw is probably one of the biggest stum

bling blocks for woodworkers.

"No one knows how to sharpen Western saws," says Graham Blackburn, author of "Traditional Woodworking Handtools" (available at blackburnbooks.com) and an instructor at Marc Adams Woodworking School. "I ask the students to bring in their worst plane and their worst saw. Once they sharpen their saws they never go back to Japanese saws."

But if you don't want to learn to sharpen, you still can get a flea-market saw professionally tuned.

We recommend Tom Law of Smithsburg, Md. We mailed a dull, unusable Disston backsaw to Law, who charged us $10 to reshape the teeth, $5 to set the teeth and $10 to sharpen the 14-point rip saw. That $18 saw now cuts dovetails like a dream. (See the "Saw Sources" box for contact information. Law also has a tutorial video, "Hand Saw Sharpening.")

Japanese Rip Teeth • The length of the rip teeth are graduated on Japanese saws.They start small near the handle and get larger.

Western Rip Teeth • Rip teeth work like chisels, levering out the grain. Crosscut teeth work like knives, severing the fibers on either side.

"My favorite illustration has been pruning a tree. Imagine standing 30 feet up, hanging onto a trunk about to remove a branch above you. Would you rather be pushing or pulling?"

— Rob Lee, president, Lee Valley Tools


Popular Woodworking October 2003

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