5 Major Operations in Sharpening Hand Saws

Published on: February 22, 2022
Written by Eric Devin / Fact-checked by David Rowan

There are two types of handsaws-disposable and resharpening hand saws. People mostly go for the first one due to the low price, but often come back to the second one for its longevity. Most people get their first hand saw from reselling shops at a lower price. Those saws are worn off, overused, and may age decades!

5 major operations in sharpening hand saws

However, there is no alternative to using quality tools. A little sharpening helps to bring the best out of the oldest saws. So, here are the steps you should follow to make an old saw brand new. 

Operations for Sharpening Handsaws 

major operations in sharpening hand saws are mostly the same for any handmade saw. However, we have categorized the procedure into five stages and elaborated it for better understanding. The operations involve clamping the saw, jointing, setting, side-dressing, and rust removing. Please read these steps carefully without skipping. There are useful tips for effective sharpening of hand saws. 

1. Clamping

The first operation of sharpening a hand saw is clamping the saw to the table. You can do it with a saw clamp or vice. If you don’t have one, simply use two wooden boards. Put the saw blade in between two wooden boards, leaving the saw tooth upward and exposed. Now clamp both boards tightly. 

Make sure not to expose the saw blade under the tooth too much. The saw will able while filing and also, the file will make a screeching sound. The tooth should be exposed just to the right so that it can be sharpened using a file comfortable. 

2. Flat Filing/Jointing

The second operation of sharpening a hand saw is flattening the saw tooth. You must be wondering, we want to sharpen the tooth then why flattening it in the first place? Well, it is done to give the saw tooth the same height. If any tooth is too short, then joining will make it symmetrical to the rest of the saw teeth. 

Use a flat file and run it over the saw teeth starting at the end of the saw, ending at the handle. Do not change direction and repeat this process several times. Now check that if every sawtooth is well joined or still some of those are rest. Then repeat the process if necessary. 

Effective joining is ensured by properly gripping the flat-file against the saw blade. We want to apply steady and uniform pressure on all the saws. So, take the flat file with both hands, place it on the sawtooth, gripping it on the sides, and run on it. All the sawtooth will be the same size in a few minutes, making a sparking edge on the saw blade. 

3. Angled Filing/Setting

Now it’s time to file each tooth separately. If you pay close attention to the hand saw blade, you will see that every tooth has a sharp, thin bevel edge. We have to revive it so that the saw can cut better. A triangular file is used for this purpose. It has angled edges which works incredibly in ​crosscut saw. Please note, we can’t file too much on the tooth. It will be deep and the saw will cut slowly. 

On the other hand, if we file it lightly the saw will not be properly sharpened and will cause a bind-up. So, each tooth needs extra attention while using a triangular file for setting the saw. Using a Spring saw set is effective in keeping the uniformity of the filing. 

Take the triangular angle at 30 degrees to the saw clamp and pass it on the tooth edge several times. When done then repeat this process from every other tooth. Some consider leaning their sawtooth head a little for fast cutting with the least effort. 

When you are done setting the tooth from one side, reverse the saw and repeat setting every other tooth you left before at a 60-degree angle. When it is complete the basic sharpening is done. 

4. Side Dressing

This part is not compulsory but this will make the saw performance better. After setting the sawtooth at an angle, sometimes the sides of the saw may bend. Side dressing is done to make the sides of the saw well-groomed. 

To do this, place the saw on a bench sideways and press a wooden board on it. Now use the flat file on the sawtooth sides in one direction. Repeat this process until you get a flawless side. When done one side, reverse the saw to another side and repeat the side dressing process again. 

5. Cleaning Rust

If your saw has rust on it, then only sharpening will not lengthen its life. You must get rid of the rust to preserve the hand saw. To remove rust from a saw never use sandpaper or emery paper on it as it will eat up the blade material and make it thin. 

Use pumice stone and water instead. It will remove the rust, leaving the saw sparking clean all around. Now wipe the saw dry and use oil before storing it. The oil will create a film and prevent rust in the future. 

People Also Ask-Problems Associated with too Much or too Less Sharpening

If you over sharpen your saw, the gullet of the saw will be wider. The gullet is the small V that forms in between the tooth. If the gullet is wider, the saw will be harder to push through the wood. As a result, it will be harder to cut wood with this saw. 

If the saw is not properly filed, then it will start binding up with the sawdust. Either the tooth is not well filed or not filed at an appropriate angle, both problems can lead to inappropriate cuts. 

How Do You Know if You Can Sharpen Your Saw? 

If you have a hardpoint saw, then you can’t sharpen it. The package usually claims it clearly if the saw is disposable or reusable. If the saw is claimed to be disposable, then you can’t sharpen it any further. Usually, this kind of saw is cheaper, machine-made, and has thin blue or black like teeth. That means the saw teeth are hardened. It is as hard as a file. So, a regular file won’t work on it. 

Hand made saw needs sharpening. It is also mentioned in the saw name and brand. These saws have bigger teeth and are used for crosscut or rip cuts. These are handmade saws, hence are pricey. Hand saw lasts for decades and passes on several generations. So, these saws are frequently sharpened.

Final Verdict

No matter which saw you own, it can be sharpened if it is meant to be sharpened. Hand saw, rip saw, crosscut saw, backsaw, or pruning saw– all are hand made, frequently used, and need regular sharpening. Only the setting angles will change for each type, but the procedures are all the same. 

Even if you don’t use a saw regularly, it is still important to keep the saw sharpened before storing it. Because this is the technique that makes these incredible tools last for generations and be better by the time.

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About This Writer

author eric devin

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

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