Monday, 17 October 2011

Happy customer - Finished in Finland - with a thumb hole.

Well the saw plates arrived in Finland last week, and it looks like Tristan couldn't wait to get on to making the handles.

I sent him some American Black Walnut along with the saw blades, and he's now finished the handle on the 29" rip saw. For a first attempt at a handle I think he should be very proud, it's come out a treat.

He's also used furniture nuts and threaded bar to fix the handle on, and I think this give a very contemporary look that contrasts well with the old school influences on the handle.

Well done Tristan, and I'm glad your pleased with the saws.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Saw blades to Finland

Just Finished a nice pair of saw blades going toFinland.

Tristan wanted a large Ripper and a X cut to match.  The rip is 29" long, as Tristan has a long stroke length, while the X cut is 2" shorter.

The Spec on the rip is:

4" of 5 ppi
5" of 4.5 ppi
6" of 4 ppi
3.5 ppi for the rest of the saw.

The X cut is 6ppi for the entire length.

Tristan wants to make his own handles, so I've included a couple of American Black Walnut blanks for him play with.

The next pair of saws on the list will be heading off to the USA.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Frame 2011 at St Fagans Nr Cardiff

This post is really just a collection of images taken at the Carpenters Fellowship annual weekend. It just gives a quick glimpse of all the things the organisers pull together for a very enjoyable weekend, and it didn't rain to much.

I haven't mentioned any of the great speakers that we had lined up from around the world.

But here was a taste of the demonstrations and activites we had on from axe throwing to cider making, from hewing to building a crane.

All in a weekends work at the Carpenters Fellowship.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Carpenters Fellowship auction saw.

The Carpenters Fellowship held their annual event, "Frame" at St Fagans museum near Cardiff on the 2-4th Sept. Every year an auction is held to raise money for training inititives within the fellowship.

The Carpenters' Fellowships main aim is promoting communication, training and sharing of knowledge amongst those interested in historic and contemporary timber framed structures. We hold talks lectures and demonstrations over the entire weekend.


I made a saw this year for the auction, with the winning bidder getting the choice of any tooth configuragtion to be cut with me in my saw workshop. The auction was a great success rasining around £7000 for the Fellowship. In the end my saw sold to  American TFG member Grigg Mullen for £170. The saw will now be going across the pond to it's new home.

The saw is 28 1/2" long with a tapper ground back ready for the prefered tooth pattern. Grigg is actually wanting two saws, so I'm going to be making him another saw as a cross cut match to the auction saw.
English Beech handle with brass medallion.

Monday, 22 August 2011

A return to saw making, well almost.

Time flies when your busy, and between sorting out things for the Carpenters Fellowships' "Frame" event, and being dragged away on holiday for a week, the saw making had come to a bit of a stop.

Well I now have a bit of time, to squeeze a couple of saws in over the next 2 weeks.

I still have things to do for the Fellowship, but I've made my part for the man powered crane we're building, so my workshop time is freed up a bit.

I've made the capstan for the crane, it's the main power house where four guys act as the engine to power the crane. Just as they did on old sailing ships.

The centre of the capstan is drilled along it's length to reduce the splitting during the drying process, I think I'm going to oil it as well to see if this helps.

It's 300 x 300 x 1500, so not a small timber to move around. I didn't have a long enough drill to go from one end, so resorted to drilling from both the top and bottom.

The custom made metal band will hold the capstan vertical as it rotates.

I'll post some pics of the crane in action ( assuming it works) in a couple of weeks.

Back to the saws, I finally got round to finishing the handle for the Carpenters Fellowships' auction saw.

The beech handle came up a treat. The English beech is always easier to work than the American black walnut. The handle still needs a final treatment and polish, but this won't happen till it's being fitted to the saw.

As for the saw blade I expecting a new delivery of steel in this week, so as soon as it arrives I can crack on and finish a couple of saws.

Lovely rays in this beech, I'm well pleased with the timber I picked up from the sawmill.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Beach Handles

Time flys at the moment, I'm spending a lot of time organising the Carpenters Fellowships main event of the year "Farme".

The Carpenters Fellowship is an organisation dedicated to promoting communication, training and sharing of knowledge amongst those interested in historic and contemporary timber framed structures. Every year a large proportion of the oak framed carpenters from around the country, and some from abroad, get together, and have a good time.

This year "Frame" is going to be held in St Fagans Museum near Cardiff, it's a great museum, which fits in really well with what the Fellowship does.

Every year we hold an auction to raise some funds for the fellowship. This year I'm donating a saw to the auction. It will be one of my site saws with the English beech handle.

Well I've run out of beech, so off to the local sawmill to pick up a 1"board.

I use Whitney sawmills on the river Wye. They are a great small sawmill that only uses home grown timber, but the quality of their timber and sawing is excellent.

I was shown to the stack of beech and let loose to rumage through till I found the one for me.

Well here it is, and I can tell that it will come up a treat when the handles are finished.

The handle for the fellowship saw is roughed out ready for shaping.

You  can see the contrast with a half finished American black walnut handle above.

Since I don't know who is going to get the fellowship saw, I'm going to leave the saw with no teeth, and let the winning bidder choose the tooth pattern.

They'll  get an invite to cut the teeth themselve in my workshop, or I can cut them and post the saw on.

Frame is a great event but it does take a lot of organising.

I'm also running a demonstration on restoring old saws back to life. At some point I have to take my workshop apart and pack it up to go to Cardiff.

All the hard work will be worth it.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Re-toothing a Thomas Flinn saw.

A while back one of the board members of the Carpenters Fellowship asked me to re-tooth a Thomas Flinn & Co saw, changing it from cross cut to large graduated rip.

Well the saw has finally got to the top of the pile so I spent a couple of hours on the saw today.

The Carpenters Fellowship had a batch of saws made by Thomas Flinn & Co, in Sheffield. The saws were made with a custom etch showing the CF logo and tag line.

I'm not that keen on these saws, I don't like skewed backs and the handle is huge, angular and for me has no redeeming features.

For me the handle is only marginally better than the plastic handle throw away saws. On the plus side they can be re-shaped, rounded and made more comfortable, but you still have a handle that a gorilla with and extra finger could hold.

The picture to the left shows the handle in comparison with one of my favorite 19th C handles.

One thing I should say, is that these saws are very cheap for a re-sharpenable saw, so I suppose you get what you pay for.

Right, that's the end of my critisism of another saw maker, lets get to work...

The first thing I did was remove the handle, as this is a modern saw, the saw nuts come off really easy, with no risk of damage.

I number the saw-nuts and note their location in the handle, ready for replacing later.

This isn't really needed on a new saw like this, but it's best to keep in the habit. When your restoring an old saw the saw-nuts like to go back into the original holes, and don't normally sit right if you've moved them around.

Then I removed all the cross cut teeth, and joint the blade with a mill file to get a nice clean straight line.

I then re-cut a new set of teeth with a fly press. This is a really nice way of punching out the teeth without adding any heat into the saw blade, The spring steel is hardened and tempered to the correct hardness, addition of lots of heat would change the hardness of the steel and make the saw either over hard and impossible to sharpen or to soft and the saw would become blunt easily.

Punching the teeth tends to put a curve into the blade, so before I can sharpen the saw and reattach the handle the blade needs a bit of saw smithing to get it back to being straight.

The finished saw, with it's handle back on and all the teeth sharpe.
I haven't put any set on the teeth on this saw, Tim Potts, knows his saws and I'll let him choose his own set for the timber he is cutting.

You can see from the picture that the tooth line is graduated. The ppi at the tooth line is: (toe to heel)
4" of 5 ppi 
5" of 4.5 ppi
6" of 4 ppi
3.5 ppi for the rest of the saw.

The large rip teeth on this saw will probably be used to cut large section green oak, used in making timber framed houses in the UK.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Beutiful Disston No7

As well as the new saws that I'm making, I also have a collection of old saws. I tend to go for the larger rip and cross cut saws, leaning towards 19th C British saws, but I have a few American saws that have made it over the pond.

My better half often comments that the number of saws keeps on  increasing, and I suppose at some point I'll have to let some move on and find other homes. This will of course then free up some space for more saws.

Most of my old timers are in usable condition, some need straightening and sharpening, and I plan to try and get to these over the next few months.

I'll post these rejuvenated saws on here as they come back to life.

Here is a nice example of a lovely Disston saw. It's a No7 28" rip with 3 1/2 ppi, in very good condition and showing a nice breast to the saw line. Easy to date to 1896-1917 by the medallion.

This saw still has the remains of the paper sticker around the medallion, which originally would have read:

"Years Of Competition Against All Kinds Of Prejudice Has Proved--THIS SAW--To be Superior To Any Other Manufacture. Thousands Testify To This Fact."

Henry Disston was not one for modesty.

If you have a Disston, and want information about it, it's hard to beat the "disstonian Institute" website.

The breasted tooth line provides an advantage when cutting green wood. The breast reduces the number of teeth in  contact with the cut, this increases the pressure on the teeth in contact and also allows better removal of the damp sticky green saw dust.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Medallions design and fittings.

Making the medallion and brass fittings.

The medallions on my workshop saws are made from silver, this makes a nice contrast with the black American walnut. Brass was used traditionally, and I use brass on my site saws in combination with English beech, as they don't mind being treated a bit rougher.

My wife is a trained silversmith, which means that I have all the specialist tools to hand.

Having pierced the silver sheet to the required pattern, it is then soldered onto a second sheet of silver. This is then cut to the correct diameter, before polishing and fixing to the brass threaded bar.

The design on the medallions is based on the geometry of the daisy wheel. The daisy wheel is a geometrical symbol used by medieval builders to set out buildings and carpentry. It can be used to create angles and transfer complicated proportions, without the need for plans with dimensions, to craftsmen who were often highly skilled but illiterate.

The medallion and brass studs are polished and finished. The brass studs are made from 5/8th brass stock and threaded bar. The traditional split brass nuts are also made from the same 5/8th stock.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Making the Handle.

As equally important as the steel quality is the handle. If the saw isn’t comfortable in your hand you won’t enjoy using it. The old British saws tended to have 1” thick handles while the American saws seemed to lean towards 7/8th, this doesn’t sound like a lot, but for me it makes all the difference.  I have an old Drabble and Sanderson saw from about 1835, this has a perfect handle for my hand size and grip. I’ve chosen 1” black American walnut for the handle, it’s not a traditional wood, but it will come up really rich and dark, and make a nice contrast to the metalwork.

I cut the handle blank out with a combination of band saw and a coping saw.

The handle is shaped with rasps then files to get the required shape. I kept the  original saw close by for reference while shaping.

Once the handle is fully shaped, I cut the slot for the saw blade. It’s impotent that you find a saw with a similar kerf to the blade thickness. I pack the saw up to the correct height for cutting the slot.

The handle still requires a final sand and polish.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Making the saw blade for a new rip saw.

I’ve always had and used old hand saws. There is nothing wrong with a modern, plastic handled saw, with its induction hardened universal teeth. In fact for cutting plywood, with its multi directional grain, they’re great, but they’re always short, and the teeth are too small for large green wood, and I’m not that keen on disposable stuff.

I’ve stopped and picked up countless old rusty saws in antique shops, checked the teeth and looked down the line to see how straight they were. Invariably they are past trying to bring back to life as a worker, but I have some excellent saws, some good saws, and some I was being too optimistic about.

A good old saw will outperform any modern handsaw, even when you allow for sharpening time, I’ve tested rip saws against new modern saws, and the cutting time is less than half that of the modern saw.

Sometimes things come together unexpectedly and take you off in a new direction. I found a saw doctor’s book on ebay that looked interesting, I hoped it might have some new (1920s) saw sharpening techniques for hand saws, it didn’t! But it did have a small section on the advantages of using a fly-press for cutting saw teeth in bandsaw blades. Around this time I came across a fly-press with tooling from a saw doctors, set up for re-toothing handsaws. Needless to say it joined my collection of tools in my workshop.

Originally I was going to re-cut some of my old saws. I could re-cut a new saw, but that wouldn’t be as much fun as trying to make a new saw from scratch, and I’d get a saw that would be customised to what I wanted.

Vintage saw design had a lot of facets, hand saws changed over time, with their pinnacle of development at the tail end of the 19th C. Tooth pattern, taper grinding, skew backed, handle position and steel quality all being changed and improved. I have a Disston No7 from this period, and decided to use that as a starting point for my new saw.

After a lot of research on the internet, and asking questions of those in the know I eventually found the steel type and grade required for my handsaw. Spring steel CS95, hardened and tempered to 530-570 VPN, this has a carbon content of around 0.95%. The quality of the steel is vital, it needs to be hard enough to hold its edge, and soft enough so you can file it and the teeth don’t snap off when setting.

So here is how I made the blade.

The new steel plate (750 x 225 x 1mm).

The saw is marked up ready for cutting. The new saw will be longer and deeper the the Disston by about an inch both ways. The saw length is dependent on the stroke length of your arm.

A guide was clamped to the steel plate ready for cutting with a 1mm cutting disk.   The cutting was carried out very slowly with multiple cuts, to prevent excessive heat from either buckling or losing the temper of the steel.

When all the cuts are complete the saw is held in a saw vice to have any sharp edges removed.
The back of the handsaw is marked up for taper grinding.

All 19th C hand saws were taper ground; this made the saw thinner along its back edge. This had three benefits.

It made the saw lighter and moved the weight to the tooth line, which improved control of the saw when cutting.

It made the saw less likely to jam in the saw cut.

It reduced the amount of set required,
smaller set = thinner cut = less effort.

Just as in cutting the plate, it is important that as little heat as possible enters the blade; I repeatedly cooled the blade every time it reached touch hot. (Somewhere after warm but still comfortably holdable in your fingers)

I added a nib to the back of the blade. This is completely decorative and not required, but it’s a nice touch that gives a nod to the old sawmakers.

The saw will have a graduated tooth line from 5ppi at the toe, to 3.5 ppi at the heel. (points per inch)
I punched the teeth with a fly-presswith guides to control the tooth size, angle and spacing. The previous tooth stops on the guide to set the spacing for the next cut. The saw is emerging from the blade. You can see the changes is tooth size as I move along the blade.
Each tooth takes about 5- 10 second to line up hold and punch. Cutting the teeth this way ensures no heat enters the steel at the tooth line.

The saw now has a slight curve in the blade from the stamping process, but this is removed later.

The saw blade is now completely shaped. It still needs a final polish, the handle fitted,sharpening and setting.

Another weekends work.