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Sloped Gullets: The Finer Points of Sharpening

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 I find it hard, even after many years, to carry on a conversation about "sloping gullets" with at least a little chuckle.   Not at how it refers to a certain method of sharpening a hand saw mind you - its more that every time I hear the phrase "sloping gullet", I can't help but think of some sort of deformed fish...

That, and when researching the origins of this icthyological pursuit, I ran across a reference to a photo of a WWII era front-line French infantry "installation" (actually a shack the infantrymen had set up as a bar) called "L'Auberge des Gosiers en Pente" - or "The Inn of the Sloping Gullets" - that is to say, always thirsty... (from "The French in love and war: popular culture in the era of the World Wars" By Charles Rearick)

When sharpening a saw, there are several angles you are concerned with. The terms associated with these angles which are most important to this conversation include rake, fleam, and of course - slope (as shown in the graphic above -you can click on any of the images to see a larger, clearer version).  I'll try not to go into too heavy technical detail on saw sharpening as that's another subject, and it's been well covered by others... as well as myself.

Math, Metrics, and Mayhem

Going through my "archives", and I ran across this early article I put together some time ago and never published.  It's still good info, so here it is in its unvarnished glory:

Here's a few small tips I use when working to keep my projects on the straight and narrow, and some meandering thoughts on inches, feet, millimeters, fractions thereof and of paranoid machinists who have invaded the souls of today's woodworker.  I can't say it will help you mark the correct side of the inch mark, but maybe it will help.

A New Look


I apologize for the lack of content lately.  I have had the intentions of creating several new posts, but the world it seems has conspired against me!  I was just sitting down to compose a new article when an email arrived saying my web hosting company was going out of business, and that I had less than a month to react.  There was a choice to be made on whether to continue the site or not to, and you see here the resulting decision, to keep it up.  It was actually quite a wrenching decision for me, as I find myself with much less time these days, but so enjoy keeping up the site and the people I have conversed with because of its creation.  In the end, that's what won me over to continue.

Saw Vises - Old and New

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Figure 1. The New Saw Vise from Gramercy Tools

 I don't think there's been a decent saw vise on the market in decades.  Sometime in the 60's, most all hand tools went out of favor with the advent of portable, reliable, and relatively cheap electric motors for use in powered hand tools such as circular saws and the like.  Hand saws became so very old school and fell out favor, so the market for them - along with the tools for maintaining them - dried up.

But - because they were so commonly used before, there's been a plethora of old saw vises to fill the void.  With the old school methods making a comeback, and age or wear claiming the life of them more and more, those tools have been getting fewer and fewer. 

Someone has stepped in.  Gramercy Tools is introducing a new saw vise, one worthy of the vises of old.  It looks impressive. 

Based on an old Wentworth saw vise design from the late 19th Century and made from heavy bar (or sheet, depending on how you look at it)steel (not cast) the vise looks to be the only really decent vise available new today.  Certainly it's far above quality wise than any other new vises that I've seen.

Review: Bad Axe Tool Works 18" Tenon Rip Saw


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Figure 1. The 18" Bad Axe Tenon Rip Saw.

Retiring after 28 years in the army, Mark Harrell began a second career as hand saw sharpener and restorer.  Starting with TechnoPrimitives, LLC, Mark began taking in work in his new chosen field and his skills have garnered many accolades, including praise from Chris Schwarz, editor of Woodworking and Popular Woodworking magazines.

As TechnoPrimitives' reputation and business grew, Mark began eying another avenue of the same field he could pursue: saw-making.  Instead of just restoring saws, he would manufacture them, starting with a 16" and an 18" backsaw.  With that in mind, he started a new division of TechnoPrimitives LLC called "Bad Axe Tool Works" - a name taken from the name of the area of southwestern Wisconsin that is his home.

I'm a big fan of supporting the small manufacturer, as without these industrious and creative individuals the availability of quality hand tools for us to use would be severely limited.  These are the people that not only help keep our craft alive, but gives us the means to do so...  But on the same note there is a heavy  toll that must be paid by these individuals - their work must truly shine to stand out from the rest.  For my part, I would be remiss - when given the chance - if I didn't scrutinize the product in that much more detail if I'm going to offer up a review.  Here, I'll dissect the Bad Axe saw piece by piece, feature by feature, and for performance in as much detail as I dare - if you want to skip my ramblings and just read my summation of it, feel free to scroll to the bottom of the page. 


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