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Author Topic: Making a Saw Handle  (Read 11742 times)

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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Making a Saw Handle
« on: April 10, 2013, 09:47:03 AM »
I have a few saw plates that need handles, and I decided to get started on one last weekend. I figured I would snap a few pictures as I went along in case anyone else out there has orphaned saw plates in need of a cozy handle.

The saw in question started out life as a Disston No. 7 (1896-1917) 8 PPI crosscut that I found in my shop about a year after moving in. It was a well-loved saw and had been filed down to a knife point. The handle was completely busted and only a few tattered remnants were left. I decided to turn it into a panel saw (any saw less than 26Ē is considered a panel small) with rip filing. I started by cleaning up and straightening the plate, and I cut 4Ē off the end to get the toe to a reasonable width.

I started off with a rough billet of split beech. It has been drying for about 2 years. Maybe not dry enough for a plane, but plenty dry for a saw handle.



I sawed it to length, then hewed one side flat so I could process it safely on the bandsaw-



I took off a quartersawn slice a little thicker than I wanted-



And then planed it to thickness. Iím not sure what the thickness is, I just set my calipers to the thickness of my most comfortable saw handle and used that dimension as my target.



To ensure that the saw had the right look and dimensions, I used a template that I printed from a
friendís website. I will be modifying the template to suit my preferences, but I know that this one will fit my hand comfortably and will be in proper proportion to this smaller saw plate.



For me, the trickiest part of making a saw handle has been getting the curves inside the handle to look and feel right, so thatís where I started. I bored the holes on a drill press-



 And cut out the rest with a coping saw-



Leaving the extra length on either end for this part really helped with the work holding Ė I was able to clamp the blank any way I needed to into all the tricky angles. I used a variety of files and rasps, but one nice discovery was finding out that my chip-carving knife absolutely excelled at reaching some spots that no rasp could touch.



Once I was satisfied with the inside shape, I went ahead and bored all of the outside holes. You can see where Iíve changed a few details from the original pattern. I drew a straight line at the bottom of the handle to make it a London-pattern handle. This is an older type of handle that dates to the 18th century.  I also changed the front of the handle where it meets the saw plate give it more of an 18th century look.



Then I cut the rear shape of handle on the bandsaw. Once again, leaving the extra length at the front of the blank really helped me shape the back side. The front is a very quick and simple job compared to shaping the part where your hand actually grasps the saw, so I saved that for last.



And when I was satisfied with the shaping of the back of the handle, I cut the profile on the front.



Then it was time to cut the slot for the blade. When I was trying to determine how deep the cut should be, I realized that the heel of the saw plate would be at the wrong angle for this handle. So I scribed a more appropriate angle onto the plate and cut it off with a cheapo tile saw (a tile saw makes quick work of spring steel).



Then filed off the bur-



I marked out the cut with a marking gauge, and cut it with a tenon saw (The tenon saw in the picture is the recipient of my first attempt at handle-making, from about 3 years ago. Iím not happy with the result, but itís not bad enough to replaceÖ)



The saw plate fits just right.



After cutting the slot for the blade, I gave the front of the saw handle some contour and refined the lambís tongue detail at the bottom of the cheeks. And now itís ready for saw nuts. I will probably do a little more shaping to the saw plate to give the heel a little more curve, but that will have to wait until Iím finished with the handle.



I made the saw nuts out of some random brass stock that I found in the plumbing department at a local hardware store. I didnít take many pictures of that process, but it would really deserve a thread unto itself. Hopefully if you are making a saw handle, you will have the original nuts that came with the saw. That makes things a lot easier. Here is the plate with the nuts installed. They still need to be filed flush with the wood, but the end is in sight.


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Offline Tim Lea

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2013, 09:54:50 AM »
That is nice.. Got one I need to do thanks for shareing..

Offline JohnM

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2013, 09:55:49 AM »
 smiley_clapping

Very nice!
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Offline clww

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2013, 09:56:45 AM »
That was a great tutorial!  :)
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Offline Jay C. White Cloud

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2013, 09:57:14 AM »
 smiley_clapping

I second that motion, thanks for sharing that processes with everyone!  Awesome work, very nice detailing.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2013, 10:21:34 AM »
These saws have really taken a life of thier own with you. Enjoy yourself. You are bringing those old saws back to life.
Model 6020-20hp Manual Thomas bandsaw,TC40A 4wd 40 hp New Holland tractor, 450 Norse Winch, Heatmor 400 OWB,YCC 1978-79

Offline LeeB

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2013, 06:07:37 PM »
Really beautiful handle. You do such nice work. I've never worked with beech and know nothing about it. Would it be better to use an interlocked grain wood like hickory or elm to avoid breakage at the weak spots?
'98 LT40HDD/Lombardini, Case 580L, Cat D4C, JD 3032 tractor, JD 5410 tractor, Husky 346, 372 and 562XP's. Stihl MS180 and MS361, 1998 and 2006 3/4 Ton 5.9 Cummins 4x4's, 1989 Dodge D100 w/ 318, and a 1966 Chevy C60 w/ dump bed.

Offline purple otter

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2013, 06:41:47 PM »
      Great job again,Dodgy . You have given me some inspiration for some saw plates I have that are in need of handles. Your friends website is cool too! Thanks for sharing.
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Offline Holmes

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2013, 06:48:23 PM »
Extremely well done... :)
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2013, 06:48:52 PM »
Terrific job Justin.   smiley_thumbsup
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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2013, 07:09:05 PM »
Really beautiful handle. You do such nice work. I've never worked with beech and know nothing about it. Would it be better to use an interlocked grain wood like hickory or elm to avoid breakage at the weak spots?

Thanks, Lee! I think elm and hickory would make beautiful handles, though I don't know that they would be more durable than beech. Beech has a long history of use for saw handles (as well as for many other tools, such as mallets and plane bodies). For over 200 years, it was the most common wood used for saw handles, and since the handle I made is a traditional form, I wanted to use the traditional wood. Beech actually has grain that is pretty well interlocked, and it was quite a chore to split the log that I used! A lot of modern sawmakers use all kinds of non-traditional woods for their saws, like curly maple, black walnut, cherry, and all sorts of exotics. Apple also has a long history of use for saw handles, but it didn't become popular until after "London pattern" saw handles had fallen out of popularity.
"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -John Ruskin

Any idiot can write a woodworking blog. Here's mine.

Offline LeeB

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2013, 08:48:47 PM »
As I said, I don't know anything about beech, but if it has an interlocked grain, I see why it would be used.
'98 LT40HDD/Lombardini, Case 580L, Cat D4C, JD 3032 tractor, JD 5410 tractor, Husky 346, 372 and 562XP's. Stihl MS180 and MS361, 1998 and 2006 3/4 Ton 5.9 Cummins 4x4's, 1989 Dodge D100 w/ 318, and a 1966 Chevy C60 w/ dump bed.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Making a Saw Handle
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2013, 08:55:51 PM »
I split ALOT of beech growing up with a sledgehammer and iron wedges. That beech is not the type to open up easy with just a splitting maul. I would not want to leave the saw outside too many rainy nights,gets dozzy real quick,like white birch.
Model 6020-20hp Manual Thomas bandsaw,TC40A 4wd 40 hp New Holland tractor, 450 Norse Winch, Heatmor 400 OWB,YCC 1978-79


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