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Adding a Finish and Some Teeth

Putting a Finish On

Here's what I've got so far, after a single coat of boiled linseed oil (BLO):

My chip carving skills are still a bit crude, but I think these are passable.  This project is great practice for those skills, indeed. 

At this stage, it's time to start applying a finish.  My favorite finish for tool handles is BLO, but I think I'll take these a step further - I'll put two coats of BLO on, let it dry for a week or two, then for that old fashioned look, I've got some dark amber shellac flakes that are just the thing.  I'll get some photos up at the end of this article when I get there.

Giving the Saws Some Teeth

While waiting for the BLO to dry, it's time to cut some teeth in the "new " blades.  The longest blade, the compass saw, doesn't need this step as I used the teeth from the original saw there.  The remaining three do, however, and I can choose any points per inch (PPI - similar to teeth per inch) or configure them for rip or cross-cut - which ever I feel is right.  For the keyhole saw, I think that a 12 PPI cross-cut configuration is probably best.  For the stair saws, it seems most were originally offered with a cross-cut filing at about 8 or 9 PPI.  For the squirrel tail stair saw, I think I'll try a 9 PPI rip configuration, and for the last stair saw I'll use a 9 PPI cross-cut profile.  I'll use this last blade as the example for all the saws as it shows the more complex cross cut filing, but at a scale I might be able to actually photograph.  Like I said, I suck at taking close-ups!

First off, the best primer on saw sharpening on the web is available at www.vintagesaws.com - so get on over there and review some of the terms.  Most, if not all, of the following is covered in more detail on that site.

I apologize for the length, here - but sharpening is often misunderstood  and I don't know of a shorter way to describe this process fully, short of showing someone.  To cut new teeth, I start by using a CAD program to print out a set of lines at the desired number PPI (these lines are 1/8" apart - they can also be laid out with a sharp pencil and a drafting square), then mount that paper in the saw vise along with the blank blade. I then make a series of prependicular cuts with either a triangular file or a hack saw (the thin blade makes it easy to see where I am placing the cut):

Here is my desired profile for the stair saw (note, the heel - or handle - of the saw would be to the right, and the toe - end - of the saw to the left):

I'm not going to worry about the fleam angle at this point, just getting the teeth properly shaped.  Starting from flat, this will be the progression of the teeth as I file them.

Here you can see what I mean - a progress shot.  I'm not putting enough rake angle on the teeth here, but that's easy enough to correct with the next round of filing.

You can add a bit of side pressure so you file one side a bit heavier than the other to correct minor deviations.  I don't worry about sharpening every other tooth  from each side quite yet - I'm just shaping the tooth here, and I'm more worried about getting the shape right, so it's all done from one side..  Take your time and do it right - it makes sharpening a lot easier when you get to that point.  You can count the number of strokes made with a file, but double check yourself - make sure the teeth are being filed evenly, and go back and get the ones that need it again.  Over-filing a few teeth is OK, but if you get too far out of whack, don't be afraid to joint the teeth again and get a fresh start,  The actual sharpening comes next, once I have the teeth shaped down to a point.