Saw Making #7: Panel Saw from a Great Neck 26" Saw

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Blog entry by AgentTwitch posted 01-24-2018 03:29 AM 3063 reads 4 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Gents Saw Conversion Part 5 Part 7 of Saw Making series no next part

This installment is taking an inexpensive handsaw and turning it into a panel saw.

I have wanted a Lie-Nielsen panel saw for some time (actually a pair of them in rip and cross cut configurations) to live in my non-existent tool chest that I hope to someday build. They are beautiful, and like all of Lie-Nielsen’s products, they are very well made and reasonable for the precision and warranty they offer. I have no reservations buying a quality tool like LN, I just dont have the money to do it right now.

Why not build one? You can buy the beautiful brass domed saw bolts from Lie-Nielsen for $5 each ($7.50 if you want the medallion, you just have to ask for them as its not on their website), and purchase a saw plate from for $47. My goal was to try to find a cheaper way.

The inspiration:

The donor:

Great Neck offers a 26” hand saw that is made in the good old USA for less than those parts. I got mine delivered to the door for $28. The pros: Made in the USA, includes saw bolts (1 more than needed), made of high carbon steel and you can resharpen it. The cons: The bolts are chrome plated steel instead of the nice solid brass. While the teeth are not traditional geometry, while they are over-set, and while the saw plate has a hanging hole (WHY DO THEY DO THAT?!), its not an issue as I will re-file the teeth, fix the set and cut the saw plate to a panel saw size.

Lets take it apart.

Here is what we are left with, a plate and saw bolts for the rebuild.

I head on over to and grab the Disston D-7 panel saw template and print it off.

Next up, I locate a piece of curly maple that is approximately 1” thick, at least 7” wide and long enough for my handle template. I use a hand plane to dimension to 7/8” thick.

I use a child’s glue stick to put the template on the handle billet.

I use a bandsaw to cut it close to the line and then drill my through-holes for the bolts and slit for the saw plate. After that it’s a matter of rasp/file/sand to get it to the layout lines. There is no photo of that process, but I have it covered in my other blog entries.

My finish for this handle is a wiping varnish made of 3 parts mineral spirits, 2 parts boiled linseed oil and 1 part polyurethane. You can see my highly precise measurement lines on the mason jar.

I put 2 coats on, wipe most of it off, and then wet sand the third coat, allowing it to dry over night after each coat. I did this until there seemed to be a sufficient coverage.

Now that the handle is good to go, I position the handle on the plate and make a pencil lines were the plate ends at the top of the handle, where it exits out the bottom and where the curve.

I ended up using the mouth of a drinking glass to draw in the curve of the heel. The red sharpie makes it a little easier to see.

I used a cutoff wheel to cut through this steel (hard stuff!) shy of my layout line. I used a belt sander to sneak up on the lines.

I test fit of the handle to the newly cut saw plate. Once satisifed with the results, I bring it to the drill press.

Next, I use a solid carbide spade bit to drill the holes for the saw bolts while the handle is dry fit on the saw plate (thanks for the pro tip, Isaac from Blackburn Tools!). This ensures a perfect fit. Just make sure the filings are carefully removed to so they don’t scratch the finish or the saw plate.

You can see how the light from my drill press table is shining through the holes. I used to struggle with aligning the saw plate holes to the handle perfectly. Its worth the small investment for a carbide spade bit. You don’t want oversized holes, or the plate can wiggle around when cutting.

Now that the holes are drilled in the saw plate, I need to drill the correct diameter hole for the nut. I think it was 5/16” diameter and 1/2” deep. Don’t go all the way through, or you will have wiggly saw bolts.

I forgot to cut the plate down to the final length and remove the nail hole from the toe of the saw plate. Traditional panel saws are 24” long with a saw plate closer to 20”. I had plenty of room to cut it down to size.

Here is what we have, a panel saw with a curly maple handle for about $28 and shop materials.

I didnt record removing the lacquer covering the plate removed with acetone, the traditional rip geometry filed into the teeth, the set was reduced using Paul Sellers method and then sharpened.

Overall this project was very satisfying! I hope I can find cheaper brass domed saw bolts in the future. They really do make a load of difference in appearance in my opinion, but I don’t want to spend $15 per saw either. Thanks for looking! If you haven’t attempted making a handsaw, these repurpose projects are not that expensive. Why not give it a try?

-- Regards, Norm

3 comments so far

View summerfi's profile


4379 posts in 2458 days

#1 posted 01-24-2018 05:14 AM

That turned out great, Norm. Very innovative, and it looks sharp too. Two questions: Did the Great Neck logo come off with acetone, and is the saw plate tapered?

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View Ted78's profile


408 posts in 2770 days

#2 posted 01-24-2018 09:23 AM

That’s really cool, I like the idea of creating something awesome from something that started off so mundane. On a side note do you have any suggestions about where I can learn about refilling teeth? Specifically turning an old crosscut panel saw, that are literally $2 or $3 around here and making them a ripcut saw? The latter seem to be a lot harder to come by.

I flagged zunaid81’s scammy post.

-- Ted

View AgentTwitch's profile


631 posts in 4267 days

#3 posted 01-24-2018 11:23 AM

Bob, thanks for encouragement, the saw plate is not tapered. The logo came right off with acetone.

Ted, if you prefer to read instructions on filing saw teeth, try:

If videos are more your thing, fellow lumberjock Brit (Andy) put out this great video:

-- Regards, Norm

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