Fair Woodworking

October 6, 2012

Learn to sharpen your saws

Filed under: Picture issues,Sharpening,Skill development — fairwoodworking @ 3:09 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


For as many people who are afraid to sharpen their chisels, and plane blades, there has to be 10 or even 100 people who fear sharpening their hand saws.

I am one of them.

The thing is, I use my saws a lot, and like many of us, I tend to forget that they dull quickly. If I was to ever hope to maintain a sharp edge on my regular users while using a sharpening service, I’m now convinced that I would need to own two of each. One at use, and the second in shipping to, or from my sharpener.
Or I can suck it up and learn to sharpen my saws.

Resawing by hand can be a real drag, especially if your saw is dull. The fear that many of us have is that we will screw the saw up. We tell ourselves that a dull saw is better than an amateur sharpening.

Last year for the first time, I sharpened this saw. I didn’t bother with set, or anything, I just filed the teeth. Even as a raw 1st timer I was blown away at how much quicker it cut. Sure I could have screwed it up, but if you can saw a straight line, and you pay attention, you should have the skills to sharpen the teeth of a rip panel saw.

Today, I sharpened it for the second time. My first thought was, I should have sharpened this months ago. Many, many months ago.

My second thought was, this saw seems to bind in the kerf more now. Some may see this as bad news. I see it as education. I now have a reference point for how much set I like with the saw.

Now I need to learn how to adjust the set of the teeth, and I’ll bet I’ll next learn how much set is too much.

That’s ok too. I’ve just got to dive into the learning curve, because I need to learn this stuff fast!

My dovetail saw, and miter box saw are desperately dull as well.



  1. I to bit-the-bullet and took a file to my beloved LN crosscut carcass saw a few months ago … it was way overdue and despite owning the correct LN files, I put off the act for several months due to plain fear of failure. Finally, I accepted that I would rather screw it up myself than risk posting off my saws to some unknown person. I was hoping that my rip cut dovetail saw or tenon saw might need doing first. Unfortunately, the carcass saw gets used 75% of the time on every project. I’m sure I didn’t make the best job of it, but it certainly cut a lot faster once I was finished. I now have no worries when it comes time for the rip saws.

    Comment by Simon — October 6, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  2. I have no idea why we fear sharpening saws so much. Glad to read you were successful. I’m going to attempt my first sharpening as soon as I make a saw vise (or a moxon, whichever comes first…).

    Comment by Trialanderror — October 6, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

  3. I think that part of why relatively few woodworkers sharpen handsaws is because it is not as essential skill as sharpening chisels or plane blades. Many woodworkers use machinery for coarse work. Many also use Japanese saws for fine work. Some use impulse-hardened saws which cannot be sharpened. Learning to sharpen a saw just does not seem as necessary.


    Comment by ChrisHasFlair — October 7, 2012 @ 3:15 am

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