Saw Sharpening


After I migrated to hand tools and accumulated a few quality hand saws it was time to learn to sharpen them.

As I gathered the appropriate tools I opted to purchase a new saw vise rather that scouring for an older, vintage model.

Grammery Tools makes a modern unit that got good reviews. I purchased one from Tools For Working Wood.


Tools for saw sharpening

sharpening project #1 vintage Shapleigh rip saw

sharpening project #2, new geometry on Shapleigh rip


I also secured a Veritas Saw File Holder and Guide

This device allows easy setting of rake and fleam angles.

Shannon Rogers has an excellent video on using this device at his Renaissance Woodworker site.


I bought a squaring jig to hold a bastard file for jointing.
Jointer unit shown with a six inch bastard file.

Also from Highland Woodworking, SOMAX saw sets.

Model # 250 Fine and Coarse


From Traditional Toolworker...a set of files (by Schmidt or Pferd; with Lutz Tool ferrules and handles).

The Grammery was mounted so that it could be clamped to the relatively high work bench on the north wall.

After much reading and watching videos it is time to put files to metal.

Saw Sharpening #1

Vintage Shapleigh Rip Saw

Since a rip saw is easier to sharpen that a crosscut saw I selected this older saw as my first effort. This saw was one of the finds in my Reece's Pieces project. It is not a collectable by any means but these Diamond Edge saws were well made models marketed to the home user.

In the late 1800s and into the 20th century, Shapleigh Hardware made a wide range of products (knives, razors, axes, cutlery, saws, etc.) under their Diamond Edge house brand.


Their products were franchised out to many hardware entrepreneurs as America moved westward.


This is a vintage "Diamond Edge" rip saw made in St. Louis by the Shapleigh Hardware Co.

This is a model #140.

On the heel of the blade was the 8 TPI mark.

It was verified to be 8 TPI with a 8 degree rake.

Note In the image that many of the teeth were not of the same length.


The saw was secured in the vise and then the jointing file was used to attempt to even up the length of the teeth.


It was not possible to get all the teeth the same height. I think that some of the problem was due to poor rake angles in previous sharpenings. Additionally, there were some poorly set teeth.

Hopefully the situation will improve with this sharpening and the problem will go away in a future sharpening.

The newly jointed flat surfaces, called "lands", are visible in image.

The #6 X Slim saw file was put into the Veritas handle/guide.

Rake was set to 8° (fleam = 0°).

The single dot placed on the file near the tang is to identify the face used so as to rotate when appropriate.

Saw in vise, tote to right, worked the rake angle on all the teeth that were set away. Heel to toe, every other tooth. Rotate saw, tote to left and change the rake angle. Work heel to toe, every other tooth.

After filing, the first test was visual.

I moved a magnifcation light and visually inspected the teeth. Due to the uneveness of the teeth at the start there were still some issues...the lands in some instances were not fully brought to a point.

The touch test...though the saw is signifcantly sharper that before I do not think it has the appropriate geometry.
The sides of the newly sharpened teeth were "stoned" with an Arkansas stone to remove rough edges.

The real test came by ripping a board. It was as I has believed, sharper but it did not cut as efficiently as it should.


So, I rotated the file to another face.
Marked the teeth with a black marker and verified rake angle.

Then, filed the teeth a second time.

End result: better geometry, reduced lands, much better and faster cutting action...but kerf cut line wandered. The original issues with set and tooth size make me believe that this saw should be reshaped, reset, and then filed again.

I decided to do a full restoration of this saw including new tooth geometry.

Saw Sharpening #2

Vintage Shapleigh Rip Saw


This will be a second sharpening to this saw.

After a restoration of the blade, handle and hardware, the blade receive a new tooth geometry.

You can see the new gullet setup in this image.


After reshaping I tried a very aggessive rake of zero degrees.

Set was not adequate and the sawing was not satisfactory.

Quite unhappy.

So I started over, jointed again.

And carefully marked every other tooth.

I paid special attention to the jointed lands and made sure that I set them appropriately.

I switched to the gold SOMAX set and went to a more pronounced set.

The blade had been catching slightly in the kerf.


The saw was now jointed and set and ready for pointing.

Because of the new set and the marks I was able to pay better attention to the lands and try to point about half the land. I also attempted to keep the gullets at the same depth.

After filing the front edges of the tooth that moved away from me...heel to toe, left to right...I reversed and adjusted the Veritas rake angle in the other direction and finished pointing all the teeth.

The pointing felt better and looked better.


Stoned the edges of the teeth to push back the burrs and soften the set a bit.

Result was very successful. The saw rips well, does not bind, keeps to the line and the 5° rake seems much more satisfactory.






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