Tenon saw

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Project by DHS posted 11-27-2012 12:09 AM 5352 views 26 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had been searching for a vintage tenon saw for months but could not find one I liked. So, I decided to just build one. After all, how hard could it be? It turned out to be both easier and more difficult than I imagined. The spring steel saw plate was a piece of cake. I ordered one from Wenzloff and Sons ( It was relatively inexpensive and they even cut the teeth for me (11 ppi). The handle was trickier but I took my time and after one false start I managed to fashion one out of some figured cherry from the cut-off bin. I copied a handle from an old Disston back saw, but gave it a slightly more aggressive hang. I cut the handle to shape using a bandsaw, scroll saw, and drill press. I carefully shaped it using rasps, files, chisels, and lots of sanding. Cutting the slot for the blade was probably the most challenging part. I used a thin-bladed carcass saw that cut a kerf the same width as the tenon-saw blade.

By far, the most difficult operation was folding the brass spine. It was much harder than I had expected. I went through a few pieces of brass before I got it right. In the end, I used 2” wide 0.093” thick formable brass (Alloy 260, McMaster-Carr). I visited a friend of mine in his machine shop to bend it (see collage of photos). I made the initial fold using a sheet metal bending brake. I carefully squashed the spine some more using an arbor press. I then hammered it like crazy against an anvil to flatten it. It took a lot of sanding to remove the mallet marks. And it took a lot of bending and tweaking to get it straight. I tapped it onto the back of the saw plate with a mallet.

After setting and sharpening the teeth, I’ve got one serious tenon saw. If you are interested in making a saw like this, there are a few web resources that I found quite useful.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

18 comments so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2559 days

#1 posted 11-27-2012 12:31 AM

That is just too cool! Looks like you did a great job. Thanks for sharing.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View shampeon's profile


1900 posts in 2450 days

#2 posted 11-27-2012 01:25 AM

Wow, looks great!

What did you use for the saw nuts? Also from Wenzloff?

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2321 days

#3 posted 11-27-2012 01:39 AM

nice, i never knew you could buy just blades

-- Joel

View DHS's profile


132 posts in 3491 days

#4 posted 11-27-2012 01:46 AM

Yes. You can just buy blades. In fact, that inspired me to make this saw. I spotted a restored “vintage” backsaw on ebay with a new blade. The seller stated that the blade came from Wenzloff and Sons. That saw sold for two hundred bucks! I checked the Wenzloff and Son’s web page and discovered you can purchase a blade for around $16.00. I immedately ordered a blade and then had to figure out how to make the rest of the saw.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8562 posts in 2843 days

#5 posted 11-27-2012 03:45 AM

That’s a great saw Dave, good job.

Thanks for posting all the details as well.

View CodyM's profile


49 posts in 3087 days

#6 posted 11-27-2012 04:45 AM

Wow, that is one nice saw! Great job! What is the depth of that thing under the back? Also was there a long wait for the saw plate?

-- Cody - Salt Lake City, UT

View DHS's profile


132 posts in 3491 days

#7 posted 11-27-2012 06:46 AM

cody – The saw is 16 inches long and has 5-inch depth of cut. I think it took around two weeks for the blade to arrive.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3382 days

#8 posted 11-27-2012 07:47 AM

congrat´s with a well done job
may it serve you well :-)


View walden's profile


1552 posts in 2289 days

#9 posted 11-27-2012 12:59 PM

It looks amazing! Well done. I have been thinking of making myself a set of hollows and rounds for moulding applications, but haven’t gotten up the nerve just yet.

-- "I am hiring a realtor if and when the day comes a lion is on my roof."

View chrisstef's profile


17824 posts in 3273 days

#10 posted 11-27-2012 02:23 PM

I love this …. for $16 you get the plate, make a handle (free), and squish the brass spline on. A top notch tenon saw.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View WoodworkGuy's profile


60 posts in 3060 days

#11 posted 11-27-2012 02:29 PM

Outstanding job on a wanted/needed tool that will serve you and your descendants well for years to come.

-- Making sawdust and memories through woodworking.

View bko's profile


118 posts in 3284 days

#12 posted 11-27-2012 03:10 PM

That is very nice! Great work—keep going!

View Grumpymike's profile


2368 posts in 2582 days

#13 posted 11-27-2012 03:15 PM

Many of us make projects in our shops, but very few of us make the tools to make our projects.
You stand in a very small group with a very large group of admirers.
Great job on that tenon saw. I envy your pride.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View bfergie's profile


83 posts in 2583 days

#14 posted 11-27-2012 05:12 PM

I’ve been looking at those saws on E-Bay as well. How cool to have such an outstanding one that you made yourself!

-- Fergie in CO

View Ben's profile


273 posts in 3980 days

#15 posted 11-27-2012 06:15 PM

Nice saw. I recently made a dovetail saw in much the same fashion. It ends up being much cheaper money wise and you get to say you made it.

-- Do something nice for somebody

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