Back in October last year whilst reading the blog of Matthew Platt at Workshop Heaven I saw he had got together with Marc Fish at Robinson House Studio to set a competition to make a saw handle. All that was required was a start, middle and end set of photos of the process.  I was lucky enough to be the competition winner and am delighted to have won a week long course at Robinson House Studio.

Thank you Matthew and Mark.

Here is a description of how I rebuilt the saw.

I had an old dovetail saw that was handed down to me by my father and it had belonged to his father.  It has lost its back and had a couple of kinks along the blade. My intention was to make a new handle and enter the competition and as part of the process of bringing the saw back in to use make a new  brass spine and flip the blade upside down so that the kinks were fitted within the spine and then file new teeth.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 1

I chose a piece of cherry supplied by Paul at Hampshire Wood Suppliers in Andover. The new brass spine is made from a door pushplate which was salvaged from the refurbishment of a house in Hampstead.  The new saw nuts are brass document binders obtained from an office supplies company.

The original handle was too small and uncomfortable for my hand so I collected various saws together and sketched out a shape which incorporated the features that I liked.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 2

Making the Spine

(If you are an Engineer then turn away now!)

The metal working equipment I have available is limited to small angle grinder and some Carver clamps which used in conjunction with some aluminium angle start to form the fold.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 3

Using the clamps and the angles I managed to get the brass round to around 90degrees. Next I used a bench mounted vice to close the gap up and finally ended up with the folded section shown below. This was then scribed using a marking gauge and trimmed using the angle grinder fitted with a slitting disc.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 4

The original blade was then placed within the slot which was still open.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 5

Next, using doubled up aluminium angle for additional stiffness, the spine was closed up using the Carvers again.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 6

The metalwork was set aside for a while and the handle was commenced.

Making the handle

The paper template was copied onto the cherry and then drilled and cut out using a jigsaw fitted with a Festool  blade.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 7

A bit of tidying was done using various chisels and then I marked out the lines to define the extent of the radius to give the grip an oval shape. I worked back to these lines using chisels, files and then through finer grades of abrasive sheets until I was happy with the shape. That point was reached when I could hold the grip in my hand and hardly feel it was there.

Having achieved the shape I was happy with I set up the blade from my Vaughn Bear pull saw packed up to the centre line cut for the new blade.  The handle was then slid to and fro along the blade until the kerf reached the limit marks.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 8

The handle and blade were then offered together to mark up the housing for the spine into the grip and also the tail of the blade was trimmed so that the original bolt holes were cut off.

The housing for the spine was just under 4mm and not possessing a chisel suitable to cut the slot I modified a slotted screwdriver into a cutting blade to carry out the task.  (Payback for all those chisels that have been used as screwdrivers!)

Dovetail Saw Rebuild 9

Finally the grip was mated with the blade and the bolt holes were piloted and drilled out with a recess to allow the heads to sit flush.  The parts were then separated and the cherry was given a coat of sealer, waxed and buffed and then re assembled.

The filing of the teeth will be covered in a later post.

Dovetail Saw Rebuild Finished