Woodworking Basics: Sharpening a Handsaw

Improve your carpentry and prolong the life of your handsaw with these step-by-step instructions for keeping your tool razor-sharp.



Fundamentals of Sharpening Book Cover
Despite the proliferation of power tools in recent years, hand tools are still an important part of the modern woodworking shop. “Fundamentals of Sharpening” will show you how to keep saws, chisels, gouges, planes and other tools working at their best, increasing efficiency and creating better finished products.
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Combination Teeth
Combination teeth slope forward and backward at the same angle (about 60 degrees), and both edges are beveled. Sharpen both edges using a triangular mill file, tilting the handle of the file down slightly.
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Commercial Saw Set
A commercial saw set bends the teeth of a combination saw to the proper angle with the blade clamped in a bench vise. Setting the teeth of a saw blade is a key step in the sharpening process, producing a kerf that prevents the blade from binding.
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Ripsaw Teeth
Use a triangular mill file to sharpen teeth on a ripsaw, drawing it straight across each tooth at a 90-degree angle to the blade axis.
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Jig
Hold the jig flat against the side of the blade and pass the file back and forth across the full length of the teeth.
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Japanese Crosscut Teeth
All edges of Japanese crosscut teeth should be sharpened with a feather file held at about a 60-degree angle to the blade.
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Crosscut Teeth
As with ripsaw teeth, crosscut teeth should be sharpened with a triangular mill file. Hold the file at the same angle as the bevel, which is typically 65 degrees.
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Set Tooth
Adjust a saw set to the same TPI as the blade. Starting at either end of the blade, position the first tooth that is bent away from you between the anvil and the punch block. Squeeze the handle to set the tooth.
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Filing Teeth
For the crosscut saw shown here, hold a triangular file at about a 65-degree angle to the blade with its handle tilted down slightly. As you file the teeth, work from one end of the blade to the other, filing all the teeth that are set in one direction. Then turn the saw around to sharpen the remaining teeth.
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Saw Holder
Secured in a vise, this simple jig will hold a saw at a convenient height for sharpening.
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Handsaw
One distinct advantage that hand tools offer over their electrically powered counterparts is that they are relatively straightforward to sharpen and maintain.
ISTOCKPHOTO: LEVENT ABDURRAHMAN CAGIN
A Saw Holder
This device can be used to hang a saw on a shop wall in plain view.
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