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Using a bow saw

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Woodchips2

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I can use a panel saw to cut a straight line with no problem but always end up with 'banana' cuts with a bow saw. I am only using the bow saw to cut logs for the woodburner so it doesn't really matter except it would be nice to see a neat cut for once. I don't force the cut just let the saw do the work and get reasonable tension on the blade so guess my technique could do with improvement. Anybody got the same problem or some tips for improvement?

Regards Keith
 

AndyT

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If you mean this sort of saw,



then my experience is the same. I think it's because poorly made wobbly saws are commoner than nicely made, well-tensioned professional ones which tension the blade properly and stop it flapping about. Or it could just be blunt.
 

Woodchips2

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That's the type of saw Andy. It isn't blunt because I bought a new saw recently when my son borrowed my old one. The old one also did banana cuts! Maybe it is down to tension issues and a better designed saw would solve the problem.

Regards Keith
 

Sheffield Tony

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It's not you. It's the saw, they are rubbish. I placed all mine in the metal skip and bought a one man crosscut saw for firewood. Much better.
 

Beau

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The quality of Bow saws and the blades is pretty variable. The Bahco can keep a blade fairly tight but the blades can be a bit of a lottery for sharpness. They also have a lot of set on them and this can easily get damages aiding cutting curves.
 

MikeG.

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I'd try putting a set on the teeth, which at least gives you a bit of freedom within the kerf to adjust. With a bowsaw, I use a punch rather than setting pliers.
 

Woodchips2

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bugbear":2bspgj5g said:
Sheffield Tony":2bspgj5g said:
It's not you. It's the saw, they are rubbish. I placed all mine in the metal skip and bought a one man crosscut saw for firewood. Much better.
My bowsaw cuts nice and straight.

Straight enough to do this:
post1151282.html?hilit=tyzack#p1151282

BugBear
That looks a skilled cut Bugbear, well done =D>

Regards Keith
 

Woodchips2

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MikeG.":2g3olvsh said:
I'd try putting a set on the teeth, which at least gives you a bit of freedom within the kerf to adjust. With a bowsaw, I use a punch rather than setting pliers.
I shall try that Mike, thanks.
Regards Keith
 

Rhyolith

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Yes you problem is almost certainly the quality of your bowsaw, I had the exact same issue with my 30" bowsaw. You need a good frame that tensions the blade and a good blade, either being second-rate will cause a problem.

Since this post: best-bow-saws-t96274.html I have used the 1950s Tyzack Elephant saws like Bugbear, they are the best frames you will get! I found a few at car boots and they pop up on eBay every now and again.

Tyzack & Sons Bowsaw by Rhyolith, on Flickr
Tyzack & Sons Bowsaw by Rhyolith, on Flickr

You need a good blade too though. I used cheap (£5.00) Bahco blades from the local discount store for a while, until I worked out they were likely B grade versions and what was possibly causing my curved cuts with the 30" saw above. Using the more expensive (price was the only noticeable difference) from the local tool shop in Norwich resulted in a big improved, so I reckon Bahco does pump out B and A grade blades. A grade Bahco blades are the best blades I have tried, so the problem is telling them apart from the B grade, basically go to a reputable tool store and pay £8-10 each, then chances are its a A-grade.

Though I will still say, I have never managed to get 30" bowsaw to cut as well as my 23", I think with the longer saws everything has to be just perfect.

I have found with bowsaws that sharpness is not that important, I have use the same blade on my 23" for (I think) 2 years of heavy use and its still great despite the blade clearly being blunt. Blade tension, strength and saw tooth set are way more important. Its what makes them superior to silky saws in my opinion, they can take blunting dirt, nails, wood and all manner of stuff ecountered in the outdoors without a massive drop in performance.

If you don't want the hassle of finding a secondhand Tyzack frame, then the premium Bahco frames are the best option new (that I have tried). You can get them in most decent tool shops or garden centres. I have not come across the same B & A grade issues with those.

Something else: Bahco sell Green and Dry wood blades, its worth getting the one specialised for what you need.
 

Sheffield Tony

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I think some of the difference between my experience of bow saw and Bugbear's might be down to his being an older Tyzack and mine being a Forge Steel piece of junk. My other was an S&J I think. Unlike a proper saw, there is no weight in it to speak of so makes no progress without downward pressure. The blade fixings are wobbly (a thin bolt and wignut in the one in the link), and the blade is very thin and torsionally compliant. Since the tooth line is below the line of the fittings, any downward pressure makes it want to flip to one side or the other. Combined with that the frame is too light to tension the blade, so cutting on the push stroke relieves the tension on the blade entering the cut. This allows the blade to take the path of least resistance rather than the one of your choice. The blade is so thin it can't be given much set or it would cut a V, and it also doesn't retain the set you give it for long anyway.

There are a few of the Bacho ones around at our greenwood group, they seem to be preferred by hedgelayers etc - Maybe OK for that but not pleasant to use for anything much over 4-5" IME.

I think you get the picture that I don't much like them :wink:
 

Rhyolith

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Tony, your basing your opinion on possibly the worst sort of bowsaw available! I don’t blame you for thinking they are useless! The vast majority modern ones suck with their throw away build quality and are ruining the reputation of a perfectly good tool.

You need to try a 23” Tyzack frame with a A Grade Bahco blade and I’d reckon it would change your mind on bowsaws. I have a lot of friends in the conservation world and they all were amazed with the performance of the Tyzack saws I gifted them. The Bahco frames are good too when new, but the frames tend to warp after a few years and lose their tension.
 

bugbear

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Rhyolith":1hwgte5r said:
You need to try a 23” Tyzack frame with a A Grade Bahco blade and I’d reckon it would change your mind on bowsaws. I have a lot of friends in the conservation world and they all were amazed with the performance of the Tyzack saws I gifted them.
Testify, Brother!

BugBear
 

Woodchips2

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I ended up buying a Bahco bow saw and I can now cut lovely straight cuts in thick well seasoned timber! Tysack saws go for a lot of money on E-Bay. Thanks for all the advice.
Regards Keith
 

heimlaga

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I also got rather frustrated with bow saws until last winter when I got the idea to test out an old Purmo saw that I had found in a dumpster. That saw changed my oppinion on bow saws completely. The bow itself is at least twice as heavy as a modern Bahco bow but thanks to it's rigidity it keeps the blade tensioned and cuts straight even when felling and bucking 12 inch trees.
The extra handle allows me to use both hands when cutting up bigger logs and suddenly the saw cuts efficiently on the pull stroke too.
purmobåge.JPG


Unfortunately Purmo bowsaws are no longer manufactured. They were made in Jakobstad in Finland. When chainsaws became common among professional loggers there was no market left for high end professional bow saws so they quit making them.
After some scrounging I now have at least half a dozen of theese wonderful saws. Just in case....
 

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Smithy

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I use an old Sandvik bow saw. Unlike other cheapies I have used it has kept its shape and mantains a good tension of the Blade some 30 years on. I have used Bahco but was not impressed, perhaps It was the B grade. I now use Stanley And For VFM And performance they are pretty good

Mike
 

Rhyolith

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Sanvik I think is what modern Bahco bowsaws envolved (or devloved) from. I think Bahco may have bought Sanvik but I am not really sure... I still see new looking lathe tools with Sanvik brand, maybe these are made by bahco.
 

lurker

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I have just counted 6 hanging in my garage, not used them for ages as I struggle with them.
My problem is I am sawing away fine for about third of the way through and then they start to jam. Especially growing branches. Non seem to have enough set.

This post has made me determined to sort at least one out. How do you sharpen and importantly set the things?
 

thetyreman

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has anyone made their own bow saw? as in a solid wood one with a bandsaw blade...This has put me off a bit, was plannning on making one in the new year, possibly a few of them including a big frame saw, sounds more like precision engineering getting the tension right.
 

Rhyolith

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lurker":138u3q88 said:
I have just counted 6 hanging in my garage, not used them for ages as I struggle with them.
My problem is I am sawing away fine for about third of the way through and then they start to jam. Especially growing branches. Non seem to have enough set.

This post has made me determined to sort at least one out. How do you sharpen and importantly set the things?
Sharpen with a file (saw file), unless they are hardend, in which case buy a new blade. Set with a saw set, they fairly common on Ebay.
 
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