Saw Making #4: Gents Saw Conversion Part 3

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Blog entry by AgentTwitch posted 06-28-2016 04:03 PM 2345 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Gents Saw Conversion Part 2 Part 4 of Saw Making series Part 5: Gents Saw Conversion Part 4 »

As we move onto Part 3 of The Gents saw conversion tutorial, we focus on cutting the saw plate and drilling the holes for the split nuts.

To help us with this endeavor, we will use Dykem Steel Blue, which is used to help make for easy and accurate layout.

While the saw plate is away from the saw back, put some layout fluid on top of the plate where you plan to make cuts and drill holes. Make sure you have the teeth facing the correct direction, or you may end up with a Western style pull saw.

Now line up your template to see where you need to cut away the plate so it will fit tightly in your saw handle. I find it easier to lay the saw plate on top of the template and make a tick mark at the point where the template needs to be cut at top, and a tick mark on the side where the cut ends.

Connect these lines using a straightedge such as the saw back you have removed from the plate, or your choice of a straight edge. The tool of choice for marking on steel with layout fluid is a carbide scratch awl.

Once you have connected your lines, you need to determine if you want a tapered saw or a straight saw. If you want to make your decision based only on the aesthetics of it, you can just move the saw back on top of the plate to see which you prefer.

Some people say that having a tapered saw makes starting your cut easier because the saw plate is at an angle when starting your cut. A similar argument is made for not blowing past your layout line on the back of your work peace since the saw toe is not cutting at the same depth as the heel.

Personally, I use both and enjoy using both. For this particular saw I am going to make a tapered saw. The amount of taper is entirely up to you, but you want to make sure that you don’t have too much of a slope or it could look kind of silly. I will make the slope about a quarter of an inch for this wood cutter. I mark what looks about right on toe of the plate, and do not get too hung up on the exact measurement here, just eyeball it.

Next, use a straight edge to connect the tick mark you just made to the back of the saw plate where it was cut away to fit into the tote.

Since we have our layout lines complete we know what size the saw plate will be and we can make the appropriate cuts.

Let’s use a pair of tin snips and carefully cut just to the outside of our line. Be careful because the edges are very sharp.

Its a good idea to clean up those sharp edges with a file. (Hey look, a use for your excess Gents Saw handle). You can also sneak up on your layout lines using the file if you had a little bit of extra steel left to remove after you cut the plate.

Let’s cut the saw back so that it will fit the tote and plate. I place the saw back on top of the plate (no need to assemble it for this step) and place the tote where it will fit with the plate. I find a pencil works for making the mark to cut. I like the saw back to stick past the plate in the front a little bit.

To cut the saw back, use a metal cut off saw…

Or a hacksaw…The hacksaw makes quick work of this.

File the freshly cut edges and put the saw plate back into the saw spine. I find it easier to put the saw plate into a vice and get the front point started first. Then gently tape the rest of the saw back on using a mallet.

If your saw back is to far forward or too far back, you can use a wooden dowel and mallet to tap the saw back to make any needed adjustments.

Put the saw plate assembly into the saw tote and mark for the split nut locations using your carbide scratch awl.

Remove the saw plate and add use use a scratch awl to make a small dimple in the center of each layout hole. This will help keep the drill bit from wandering.

I like to use a carbide tipped “V” router bit to make the holes. I wouldn’t use an expensive bit for this as carbide is brittle, but if you have a spare, it works very well.

I drill on both side of the plate, sneaking up on a good fit. The added benefit of drilling both sides with a “V” bit is that it deburrs the hole and places a very shallow countersink to guide in the split nut during assembly.

This is the fit we are looking for. The split nut should slide through without catching the fragile threads on the saw plate and isnt so large that that the plate would wiggle when assembled.

Lets assemble the saw and see how everything is fitting. If you cant get the split nut through the tote with some light hand pressure and wiggling, you need to make sure that your holes line up with the tote, or widen a hole slightly to get the saw nut through. If you need to whack the split nut with a mallet to get it through the tote and saw plate, you are risking damage to the fine brass threads. This will make assembly much harder in the future. Likewise, getting the split nut out should not require a steel punch and a hammer. The added force can damage the nut.

Now that we know everything fits the way it should, we can take the saw apart and remove the layout fluid using a cloth and solvent. I am using Acetone to remove the layout fluid here.

Thanks for checking in!

Next up, shaping the saw tote.

-- Regards, Norm

2 comments so far

View Dwain's profile


614 posts in 4630 days

#1 posted 06-28-2016 05:57 PM

Really beautiful work. Are you concerned about the height of the saw blade and how close it is to the handle? Again, I can’t wait to see how this is finished. Thanks for recording this for all of us.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View AgentTwitch's profile


631 posts in 4267 days

#2 posted 06-28-2016 06:09 PM

Thank you, Dwain, its been fun to record this adventure. But it makes this simple process take a lot longer than just doing it!

I will agree that the plate height is not ideal, but it should be sufficient for most dovetailing applications. There will be about 7/8” near the cheek of the tote when the shaping is complete. Right now there is some extra material on the tote that will be removed during the shaping process.

Since this impacts the last inch or so of the 10” saw plate, there is still plenty of saw left for thicker cuts. Many western dovetail saws are sized at 9”.

-- Regards, Norm

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