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Quick saw sharpening question/poll

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cookiemonster

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I have one 10tpi 10-inch tenon saw sharpened in a ripcut pattern. I find it a bit too short to cut thicker boards to length so have just acquired (but not yet taken delivery of) a 14 inch big brother. Is it worth sharpening this one in a crosscut pattern? It also has 10tpi. Some say it is not worth trying to sharpen anything 10tpi or above in a crosscut. Any views?
 

AndyT

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My favourite Disston 14" tenon saw is sharpened rip. It's 12tpi.
Cutting tenons is mostly rip cutting anyway, and mine seems fine for the shoulders.
I do think it's a good idea filing the first few teeth at a gentler angle than the rest though.
 

MikeG.

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cookiemonster":3et6cya7 said:
......... Some say it is not worth trying to sharpen anything 10tpi or above in a crosscut. Any views?
I set that barrier higher........12TPI and above is all rip for me. 10 TPI rip is a bit of a rough old cut, but very much has its uses. If you already have one saw to that pattern, you probably won't want another. Do it rip, maybe, but add some rake to take some of the harshness away. Or add some rake and some fleam, and see what happens. If you don't like it, it doesn't take much to change it.
 

That would work

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I've a fair amount of experimenting with this over the years. I always used to do tenon saws as a crosscut. Now I do rip for anything over 12 teeth, I find there's not enough difference to justify a crosscut on this (and anyway if you need a clean cut on a shoulder you would knife cut it first). Once I go less than 12 teeth for a handsaw I sharpen crosscut. I use an old Disston 7tpi hand saw to crosscut and this would become unusable sharpened as a rip. I kind of work on the principle that if you cannot easily see the cutting effect of a fleam in a kerf (two distinct scribed cuts) then its unnecessary.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Of course, it very much depends on the kind of work you do, but I think it's worth having three back saws. A small one, 8" to 10" long, about 16tpi rip, for dovetail and small joint cutting; a large one, 14" 8tpi or 10tpi rip for larger tenon cheeks; and a medium one, say 12" 12tpi crosscut for trimming workpieces neatly to length with a bench-hook on the bench.

With hand saws, it becomes a bit more individual preference, but a big rip - say 26" or 28" 3tpi and a small panel rip - say 22" 10tpi, should cover most long-grain work. Cross grain depends a bit on work done; a joiner or carpenter would use a 26" 6tpi crosscut a lot, a cabinetmaker tending more to timber about 1" thick would prefer a 22" 8tpi or 10tpi crosscut saw, and probably wouldn't use the coarser hand saw that often. Even less if machine saws are available - indeed, with machinery in the shop, the longer saws (except maybe the panel saws for finer work) would just gather dust, I suspect!

By the way - 10tpi is very coarse pitch for a 10" back saw - that's too coarse for decent joint cutting. Most of that length tend to be 15 - 20tpi, and are better filed rip.
 

IWW

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Cheshirechappie":kzid3lo0 said:
Of course, it very much depends on the kind of work you do, but I think it's worth having three back saws. .....
I always recommend at least three, but if I had to limit my saws to just three, my choice would be different from yours, Cc. Saws are tools that seem to be more prone to individual whim & taste than any other - even planes. I've handed my absolute favourite dovetailing saw to others to try & it's been loved, loathed or met with indifference in equal numbers! Much also depends on what you saw, how experienced you are, how well you can sharpen, etc. etc.

A major determinant of saw size & length is what widths & depths you most commonly saw. You need a saw that is deep enough to reach the bottom of the cut, and long enough that the teeth clear on successive strokes. A rough rule of thumb is that the saw should be at least twice as long as the length you are cutting. The other major consideration is to select a saw that is long enough to give you a comfortable stroke - sawing with even, full strokes is less tiring & makes more rapid progress. For an average-sized person, 9-10 inch blades are about minimum for joinery, where a light, manouverable saw is good, but if your style of work calls for cutting a lot of wide or thick boards you'll be seeking 12 or 14" saws.

What tooth sizes to choose is again open to endless debate. As a basic principle, the teeth need to be coarse enough that the gullets can comfortably carry the sawdust through the work, but you need enough of them sitting on the wood at any one time to support the saw without it biting too hard. The old rule of thumb that you need a minimum 4-6 teeth in the cut works pretty well in most hardwoods, but an experienced sawyer can get away with fewer & a rank amateur can struggle with more! You soon find what works best for you in typical situations.

Sharpening saws really well takes a good deal of practice & most amateurs find sharpening fine teeth with fleam to be especially difficult. A poorly-sharpened crosscut is certainly no better or even worse than teeth sharpened straight across as long as it's done reasonably well, and it's much easier to keep the teeth even when you are only concentrating on one angle. With advancing age & declining eyesight I find sharpening teeth finer than 14tpi with fleam & slope a struggle, but I keep one small saw of 18tpi as a crosscut - mainly as a challenge, I think.

In general, I would agree that the benefits of fleam diminish rapidly after about 12 tpi, for most sawing, but it can depend on what you saw - woods like Beech & Sycamore are far more forgiving than hard, splintery exotics or the stuff that grows around my part of the world. Easing rake can make a ripsaw less "bitey" & less prone to blow-out, but be cautious, it can go from efficient to lazy with just a few degrees of extra rake.

You could acquire a dozen or more saws & spend endless hours fine-tuning them so that you have one that is close to perfect for every situation. Only saw-tragics like me are silly enough to do that, most people don't want to go there and that's sensible. Another point to make is that the quality of saw-cuts really doesn't matter a hoot in 99% of situations - the cut end will be hidden deep inside a M&T joint or whatever, and if it is going to show, or needs to be perfect, it can easily be refined by shooting or other means.

Time & experience will teach you what works best for you - just start with saws & teeth profiles that your logic tells you should work, and refine as skill & knowledge increase.....
:)
Cheers,
 

MikeG.

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IWW":3m95hzc5 said:
........Another point to make is that the quality of saw-cuts really doesn't matter a hoot in 99% of situations - the cut end will be hidden deep inside a M&T joint or whatever, and if it is going to show, or needs to be perfect, it can easily be refined by shooting or other means. .......
Which is why I was somewhat puzzled by your earlier comment about needing a longer saw to crosscut wider boards. My approach to wider boards is to cut them with a handsaw on the saw horses, and clean up with a plane if necessary. If it needs to be clean on the underside, then knife a line first.
 

IWW

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MikeG.":1a0ps98d said:
IWW":1a0ps98d said:
........Another point to make is that the quality of saw-cuts really doesn't matter a hoot in 99% of situations - the cut end will be hidden deep inside a M&T joint or whatever, and if it is going to show, or needs to be perfect, it can easily be refined by shooting or other means. .......
Which is why I was somewhat puzzled by your earlier comment about needing a longer saw to crosscut wider boards. My approach to wider boards is to cut them with a handsaw on the saw horses, and clean up with a plane if necessary. If it needs to be clean on the underside, then knife a line first.
Mike, I was thinking of cutting a board where the cut is parallel to the wide face when I was talking about tooth pitch. For example, shoulder cuts for a tenon could be 20mm wide for a drawer runner, or 160mm wide for a table apron. I wouldn't normally use the same backsaw to cut both of those. For docking wide boards I would indeed use a handsaw & do the same as you suggest.

Cheers,
Ian...
 

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