Handsaw Sharpening 101

by Patrick Harper - Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

It should be noted that my love of the old ways runs deep. With that in mind, I felt it was important to learn how to dimension boards completely by hand. To do that requires a fundamental knowledge of how to sharpen various forms of iron and steel. From plane to saw, your tools need to be sharp. To send them out requires too much time and money. It also results in feeling less connected with the tools I work with.

I picked up plane iron and chisel sharpening fairly quickly. Saws have been another matter entirely. For the uninitiated, saw sharpening requires using a tapered, triangular file to bring each tooth to an equal sized point. The point is the easy part. The “equal” thing is the challenge. My first few attempts resulted in tooth sizes that were all over the place. After putting in a lot of sweat equity, I am starting to get the hang of things. The payoff is being able to rip a board down using a 100+ year old Disston handsaw.