Saw Problem?

I had a lot of handsaws in various places around the shop. Some were just in the way. I needed to make a saw till but just couldn’t decide on a design. Discussions with Mark and Doug were very helpful and here is the build and it’s content.

My saw till and handsaws

My saw till and handsaws.

Is this a solution to a saw problem or a symptom of a saw problem

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445 Jack Plane finished

445 Jack Plane

The 445 as it was when assembled

This is the wood hand plane I built in less than a week in Scott Meeks online plane making class as it appeared in the prior post. Made of quarter sawn White Oak it is my 445 Jack Plane. Named for its length in mm.,which was chosen to fill the gap in my collection of Stanley’s between the #8 jointer and the #5 jack. It is hard to know just what is the coolest thing about making your own wooden plane but building to suit your needs is one of them. Prior to this experience I had made a 4”x1” block plane from a kit I got from Hock Tools. That was a good start. I also bought and gave a cursory reading to David Finck’s “Making and Mastering Wood Planes”. This too was beneficial because I now had lots of questions for Scott. So what was the best part of having an online class? Getting direct and specific answers to your questions that deal with what you are trying to make! And Scott makes that part easy, he never put off a question (even ill timed ones), he did not talk down and he got me and the other attendee through the project on time with success.

What’s the next best part? I learned a ton and became confident that I could make another on my own (knowing that I could call on Scott if I got in trouble). And Scott’s a great guy and a heck of a teacher. Take a look at the 445 below as it is now that it is complete and working, it is still a little hard to believe and is testimony to his abilities.

445 Finished

This project was far beyond anything I had ever done before. I have plans to make a scraper plane next. I don’t have to go into great detail about how to make a wood plane because Scott has made this experience available to everyone at a price that can’t be beat. Have you looked at taking a woodworking seminar at one of the schools? Ouch. Oh I’m sure they are worth it and I plan to take one too, but this I could do without saving up for a year.

Overall I recommend this experience without reservation. Prior to this year I hadn’t even taken a shaving with a wood plane. So things can change quickly for the better with a little help.

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Birth of a Jack Plane

This week I finished taking an on-line course with Scott Meek on shop made hand planes. Took the first shaving today. It was pretty special to have a successful outcome on the first swipe. Obviously Scott is a great instructor. I’ll post more details later when the first shaping of the plane body gets started.


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Hand Saw Sharpening Seminar

I flew into La Crosse, WI from Helena, MT hoping the trip would turn out as well as I imagined. I knew I would see a few friends who are also woodworkers, expected that I might meet a few more woodworkers and expand on the small circle of buddies that I got into at WIA in Cincinnati last November. The stated agenda was a two day seminar in hand saw sharpening taught by Mark at Bad Axe Tools. See the pics from the event on facebook.  I’ve been serious about hand sawing for about a year now and was excited to get some practical knowledge of the hand saw sharpening craft. I surely was not disappointed.

I was a little disappointed when packing to leave for the trip. I had decided to bring my Bad Axe Roubo Beastmaster to get it tuned up. The last thing I did in the shop on the evening prior to departure was construct a nice sturdy sheath for the saw to protect it in my checked suitcase. That done I closed up the shop, headed to the house and began to pack. After a nice soft bed of tee shirts I grabbed the saw and placed it toe first into the bag only to discover it was one inch too long. So I left it behind and saved myself a few bucks by using only a carry on. If this seems like a non story you may have missed the commercial flying realities of the last several years.

My hopes and expectations were exceeded by miles. I reconnected with friends. I made new friends. I learned how to sharpen hand saws. I gained confidence in my ability to maintain my own saws. The surprise was making two new back saws to add to my quiver. And that is the short story. Upon reflection many details were also learned about the craft and the tools that are used. If you really think you want to know more about hand saws read on:

Bad Axe Tools is going to offer more hand saw seminars in the near future. So if interested you will also be interested in the details.

Hand Saws for cutting wood in general:

  • The anatomy and use of panel saws and back saws.
  • The geometry of a saw tooth for cutting wood. The difference between the geometry for rip and cross cuts. What makes a saw cut aggressively. What makes a saw cut cleanly. What is a hybrid geometry.
  • Why you might choose a Western saw over a Japanese style saw.
  • How to evaluate a vintage saw as to whether it is a potential user or a wall hanger.

Back saw assembly and sharpening procedures: (The following was all hands on for as long as it took for me to get it done properly. I was left to do it myself when I could and needed to. Mark was always right there when expert advice and encouragement were needed.)

  • How to tooth a saw plate. I probably toothed 5 saw plates, some for practice and two for real.
  • How to set teeth. I set three saw plates, two for real.
  • How to joint the tooth line.
  • How to hand file teeth. I filed three saw plates, one rip for practice, one hybrid for real and one crosscut for real.
  • How and when to stone the side of the teeth.
  • How to mount the back. I mounted two backs for real.
  • How to mount the handle. I mounted two handles for real.

Doing these processes was no doubt the most important part of my experience. The understanding of how a saw is put together and actually doing it is what gave me the confidence and satisfaction to know that I will be able to maintain my own saws. It also gave me new respect for the craftsmen who build these to the highest standards I also learned how to take a saw apart if needed for repair.

The tools:

  • How to operate a saw tooth cutter on new plates, when and when not to re-tooth a saw plate.
  • How to shape teeth on a saw filer.
  • How to use tooth setters. The pros and cons of hand squeeze sets over hammer sets.
  • How to mount a saw plate in a saw vise for jointing. Mill bastard files.
  • How to mount a saw plate in a saw vise for hand filing.
  • All about taper files. How to hold them, how to push them. Proper stance and ergonomics for filing teeth. How to walk like and Egyptian.
  • Selection of sharpening stones for stoning tooth sides.
  • How to make specialty clamp accessories for saw assembly and disassembly procedures.
Posted in Community, Hand saws, Sharpening | 1 Comment

I don’t know this tree species, do you?


I procured this piece of what had been a sailboat keel and ribs on the West Coast about 35 years ago. The boat had been commissioned and it took the lone maker about a year to get the keel and ribs laid up. The story has it that payment for work and material had gone in arrears for some time so the maker, fed up, cut the framework apart with a chain saw. This happened in a boat yard that was in view from my office at the time.

I have always loved this artifact and kept it with me all the way to my current home in Montana. It weighed about 250 lbs until a month or so ago when I cut off a portion of the keel.

keel-cut-faceI milled about half of the cut off and in spite of time and weather the wood is in great shape.
mystery-wood-blockHere is a picture of the mallet I made which is mentioned below.


It is quite dense with a specific gravity greater than 1.0, it doesn’t float. The keel has been on my covered porch for 8 years and is surely as dry as it is going to get. I would love to know the tree species so I can use the wood properly. I thought it would make a great mallet but it started to splinter fairly quickly. So I took these close ups in hopes someone would know the species.mystery-wood-cross-sectionmystery-wood-plane-sawnlmystery-wood-quarter

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Wood Working in America (WIA) Conference 2012

WIA Convention CenterThis was my first visit to a WIA conference. I attended the Cincinnati conference Nov. 2-4, 2012. I heartily recommend this conference to any woodworker especially a new one like me. They offer more classes than you could possibly attend (good selection of topics). There is a market place where you can meet the tool makers and test their wares. Fabulous. I met and connected with several like-minded woodworkers, really wonderful people. I will be back there next year.

My favorite booths are shown below.

There is Scott showing his wares.

Bad Axe Tool Works Booth

That’s Mark at the bench building a saw.

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Hello world!

I started this blog to share what I do in my shop hoping that putting those things into words and pictures will help me grow in my craft.

Posted in Beginnings | 5 Comments