Until a few years ago, there are still many of us who use handsaws, but today there are only few of us left. Today’s technology has created far better and faster ways than conventional handsaws. However, this doesn’t mean conventional handsaws have become obsolete. In fact, there are some woodworking projects that require conventional handsaw, instead of a more advanced one.
If a handsaw is that important, we need it to be as sharp as possible. For this, there is no better way than sharpening our own saws. This article will guide you through this process.
There are 2 important keys in sharpening your saws. The first one is the process. The second key lies on the size of your saw file. At first glance, it is somehow interesting to find out there are different sizes of saw files today, when we used to stick with 7” triangular file to sharpen any traditional Western handsaws in the old days. However, there is an underlying logic here. Saw files become slimmer as they decrease in length. At the same time, the teeth will also become finer, while the corners will be more sharply defined. If you want to use a 7” file to sharpen an 18 tpi hacksaw, the final result would look like anything else, but a fine saw. The gullets would appear to be so broad at the bottom part, where the teeth would become both weak and short. In this case, there are 2 main reasons to use saw files that are specifically graduated in cut and size.
First, the finer the teeth we use, the better we can define the corners. Second, smaller teeth will lead to a finer cut and optimum control of speed.
There is also another important fact about saw file design that we somehow are unaware of. Saw files come with specific design. The size of saw file recommended for a specific number of saw teeth per inch will always have the same length of particular triangular cross section. The amount is usually more than twice the total length of the face.
With this design, the file can provide balanced wear and whoever uses it can get 3 saw files in one simply because each corner acts as an independent saw file. If the sides of the triangle have less than 50% of the face to be filled, it would result to reduced life of the saw file and make the tool even more difficult to use. If you continue using a tool like this, there would be another consequence. If you had used 2 intersecting faces, you would be dealing with one face partially used and another one still in its good state. In other words, this mean the saw would be unable to cut evenly and even more difficult to use. Absolutely not the perfect saw you can use for your woodworking project.
In ideal condition, I recommend using a saw file with specific side width: over 200% the length of face. If you follow all these steps, you would end up having only one 1 for exactly 1 tooth pattern. Under the same scenario, your ripsaw will need a wide-faced file since this tool usually have 5-8 teeth per inch. You will also find another 3 extra files at your ripsaw. These additional files are meant to cover the range of the crosscut.
The 4” standard file should have enough wide for your ripsaws, but it may be easier to handle if it was just a bit longer. For most occasions, you can rely on this file, even though it is not the best I can recommend to you.
With the 5” slim, you will be able to handle various crosscut saws, ranging from 8-10 tpi. Alternatively, the 4” double extra slim should provide great help with blades ranging from 12 to 22tpi. However, you should be careful with anything finer than 16 tpi. These files should be used with great caution. You should only use them under strong light and with good eyes. It would be wise to avoid dulling them.
If you want to use Japanese saws, please only use the feather-edge files, instead of western triangular files. They will never fit perfectly.