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Bow Saws: The Continental type

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Coote

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Hi all,
I am thinking of buying a continental type of Bow Saw. Does anyone have any experience of this type of saw?
I recently read 'The Seven Essentials of woodworking' by A Guidice, which has inspired me to try and work through said book. I'll start with the saw as the Planes are gonna take some serious saving for!
Any advise and opinions will be greatly welcomed.
Cheers,
Coote

P.S. this type of saw :http://www.fine-tools.com/gestell.htm
 

Evergreen

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That particular book by Anthony Guidice contains a mixture of good advice and unhelpful prejudice. I'd suggest that his unusually strong aversion for what he calls "English" backsaws and "standard" carpenters' saws is just a personal quirk. I wouldn't be tempted to buy a European bow saw on the strength of it. I've been perfectly happy with Western saws for many years, supplemented by a couple of Japanese saws in more recent times.
 

Coote

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Hmmm....something to mull over. Thanks Evergreen.
I am in need of a new saw. when I say 'new' I mean one that is for woodworking rather than a general purpose saw just for cutting.
 

Coote

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oh BTW Evergreen, have you used a 'continental'? If so what did you think?
Cheers,
Coote
 

Evergreen

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I've used a small English bow saw for cutting curves but not the big Continental European version which Anthony Guidice uses for general purpose sawing.

Continental bow saws may be the bees knees and they are traditionally preferred by woodworkers in certain European countries. But I've never experienced the kind of difficulties and drawbacks with ordinary Western saws that Anthony Guidice describes so I've not had any incentive to seek one out.
 

AndyT

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It's an interesting thought, that we can now easily buy saws from any one of at least three quite different, independent traditions.

The Japanese option - fine blades, cutting on the pull stroke; fairly minimal handles (a plain stick with some bamboo bindings).

The English / American tradition - rigid deep steel plates, cutting on the push stroke, with subtly carved shaped handles fitting the user's hand.

The European framesaw - thin, narrow blades, mostly cutting on the push but usable either way; handles turned or absent (grip the frame).

Clearly all of these work; there is plenty of evidence of successful usage!! They are all different, right answers to the same question.
So it's fun to experiment - just as it's nice to try other countries' food. But most of us are content to settle down for one option out of the three, which is the one we feel most at home with.
 

Sawyer

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I've never tried a continental frame saw, but have often wondered what they are like; so looking forward to reading a few people's comments.

Always been a user of saws in the English/US tradition and with quality tools in good condition, I have never found them wanting in any way, with the possible exception of keyhole saws.

Somebody gave me a Japanese saw recently, and to be fair, it's rather good, though I rarely use it. I've always done my own saw sharpening, but don't fancy tackling the Japanese one with a file!

Can't stand the hardpoint/disposable jobs though. Alright for chipboard, or cutting next to masonry, but otherwise - bleuch!
 

Brian Henry

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Yea I wouldn't be dead set on using a continental, Guidice seems to be too rigid and a bit antiquated. The title of that book is also too editorialized; "The Seven Essentials Of Woodworking". It's like "The 10 commandments". Read some more books, find or make a saw that is the easiest and cheapest for you ... and keep reading and forming your own opinion based on experience.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Sawyer":1yew5zdt said:
Can't stand the hardpoint/disposable jobs though. Alright for chipboard, or cutting next to masonry, but otherwise - bleuch!
Well - horses for courses. I much prefer using my 'proper' saws, but keep a couple of cheap hardpoints for work on chipboard, anything that might have nails in it, patch jobs on the garden fence and so on. I don't feel too bad about ruining a £12 saw, but I'd be a tad peeved if I ruined a £100 job.

As for continental saws - don't know, never tried. I do know that steering a bow-saw needs more concentration than 'standard' Western backsaws or handsaws, but that's possibly because I don't use the bow-saw very often, and it's only got a 1/4" blade. I suspect that you get used to one sort and consequently prefer it, but that doesn't mean that other sorts of saw work any better or worse - just different.
 

Alf

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Cheshirechappie":35en3dfu said:
I suspect that you get used to one sort and consequently prefer it, but that doesn't mean that other sorts of saw work any better or worse - just different.
Yeah, I think that's the key. If you're used to a UK/US handsaw, the frame saw type is naturally going to feel all wrong (which is why I think a lot of folks who try them give up) - but they must work, or why would our Continental friends use them? Look at the likes of Frank Klausz and Tage Frid - no slouches, they. Chopping and changing between the two styles, though, I think could be testing.

Having said which - and it's a long time since I read it - I seem to recall reading Mr Guidice's tome and coming away with but one thought. Viz: He was full of it. 8-[
 

Sawyer

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Brian Henry":3bwre98i said:
Yea I wouldn't be dead set on using a continental, Guidice seems to be too rigid and a bit antiquated. The title of that book is also too editorialized; "The Seven Essentials Of Woodworking". It's like "The 10 commandments". Read some more books, find or make a saw that is the easiest and cheapest for you ... and keep reading and forming your own opinion based on experience.
You are quite right, Brian. In woodwork, there is rarely only one way of doing anything and different methods suit different people. So 'Seven Essentials' seems a bit prescriptive.
What if some free-thinker should discover an eighth? Do they risk being burnt as an heretic?
 

AndyT

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Sawyer":mgf8jij6 said:
Brian Henry":mgf8jij6 said:
Yea I wouldn't be dead set on using a continental, Guidice seems to be too rigid and a bit antiquated. The title of that book is also too editorialized; "The Seven Essentials Of Woodworking". It's like "The 10 commandments". Read some more books, find or make a saw that is the easiest and cheapest for you ... and keep reading and forming your own opinion based on experience.
You are quite right, Brian. In woodwork, there is rarely only one way of doing anything and different methods suit different people. So 'Seven Essentials' seems a bit prescriptive.
What if some free-thinker should discover an eighth? Do they risk being burnt as an heretic?
Hmmm... I wonder if he used up any of his ' 7 essentials' on the one correct way to sharpen...


....Ok I'm on my way!
 

Entenmann

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Hi everyone,

I have read this forum for years, but this is the first time I feel I might be able to contribute something useful.

I am just a hobbyist woodworker and only have been at it for a few years, but at least I own a continental bowsaw. Unfortunately, in a reversal of the experience of all the posters before me, I have never used an English backsaw, so I cannot compare the two types.
I don't think there is any reason to believe that bowsaws are better than backsaws but there are some points which I personally find nice:
- You can exchange the saw blades so you could get by with just one frame and several blades for different cuts if you were short on money.
- The blade can be (and usually is) slightly tilted with respect to the frame, which makes it possible to look down on the blade and sight along your cut line. Also, if the piece you are cutting off is not too wide, you are not limited in the depth of the cut.
- The possibility to tilt the blade in the frame allows for a convenient method to do long rip cuts on the workbench which I have heard can be difficult with other hand saws. Basically, the blade is turned 90 degrees with respect to the frame, which is then gripped on the top. I cannot post links yet, but you can google "Frank Klausz bow saw basics". The last picture in the first link (from popularwoodworking) shows the technique in action.

I think the biggest challenge in learning to handle a bow saw might be getting used to the asymmetrical weight distribution (due to the tilted saw blade) and the high balance point. However, there is even a small benefit in this, because you are very sensitive to the saw tipping over and thus straying from the cut line.
In the end, choosing a type of saw will just be a matter of personal preference but I think you should give bowsaws a try.

I hope this helps a bit.

Cheers,
Lasse
 

woodbloke

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These saws are also easy enough to make:



...and this is one I did a few years ago. I made it long enough to accept one of the Dick japanese blades if I needed to fit one, but the blade shown here is an off cut of a Tuffsaws bandsaw blade, which isn't ideal as it's difficult to start in the cut, but once it gets going it works well - Rob
 

Coote

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Thank you all for your input. It's all appreciated.
Lasse, thanks for your first hand information.
I have now bought a bow saw from Germany and it should arrive soon. I'll let you all know how I get on.
As for making one ....I need a saw first ;)
Cheers,
Coote
 
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The ECE saws are nice but I do have to say that the solid steel bar used at the top for tensioning makes these saws top-heavy. You can get used to it, but I think the 'pure' form of the saw is exhibited by models with string tensioning which are much less top-heavy.
 

Entenmann

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Charlie Stanford":2m2clgym said:
The ECE saws are nice but I do have to say that the solid steel bar used at the top for tensioning makes these saws top-heavy. You can get used to it, but I think the 'pure' form of the saw is exhibited by models with string tensioning which are much less top-heavy.
It is very easy to convert the saw to string tensioning. Just chisel or rasp a notch into each arm of the frame.
Although I like the look of the string better, I have returned, for now, to the steel bar, because I kept bursting the string. Of course, that is entirely my own fault, but it is really amazing how much force you can produce just by twisting a string.

Lasse
 

János

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Hello,

I am a professional cabinetmaker, and an user of this kind of bow saws. I inherited a few from my ancestors, and made my own ones. And I have large handsaws too.
The frame saw is easy to sharpen: the blade is filed straight across, no sloped gullets and fleam there. The blade is very thin, about 0,5~1 mm, so the kerf cut by the saw is narrow, the required cutting force is low, and cutting waste is small, compared to a large handsaw, which requires a much thicker blade for rigidity. But the frame is awkward, and limits the cutting width of the saw, so large handsaws are a standard part of a "Continental saw set", just in case of those odd jobs.

The traditional sizes for these saws were 1000-1100 mm for large ripping jobs, 700-800 mm for large cross cutting, 500-600 mm for cutting shoulders and tenon cheeks, and for turning/coping cuts (the length refers to the full length of the blade).
Nowadays buying good quality blades - especially in the larger sizes - is a hard job.

kép.jpg



Have a nice day,

János
 

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