Saw Talk #15: W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner No.120 - Sharpened and Tested

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Blog entry by Brit posted 07-06-2012 12:32 AM 26443 reads 2 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Disston No.5 - Sharpened and tested Part 15 of Saw Talk series Part 16: Disston D8 - My first Crosscut Sharpening »

Well the rain finally stopped today and the sun came out. Looking out on my garden, the squirrels were making the most of it. I sat and watched this youngster somersaulting around the garden, before settling on a branch to devour his morning pine cone.

Following his lead, I took the opportunity to get outside and sharpen another saw. Next up is the W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner No.120. Fourteen inches long with a .030” thick plate and an extra heavy spine. This is by far the heaviest backsaw that I own. If you’ve been following this blog series, you’ll remember that this is the saw where I reshaped the handle and filed in a lamb’s tongue to give it a bit more character.

Originally, it was filled 11 TPI rip, but I decided to re-tooth it to 10 TPI with 4 degrees of rake and 5 degrees of fleam. Before I could do that though, I noticed that there was a slight wave in the toothline that had to be rectified before I could start filing.

There are basically two reasons for a wavy toothline. The first is that the saw plate has slipped in the spine and the second is that the spine is slightly bent. More often than not, old backsaws that you buy at flea markets or off ebay have one or both of these problems. Many of them have either fallen on the floor, been driven over, or trodden on. If you sight along the toothline and you can see a wave, always sight along the underside of the brass back to see if you can see a corresponding bend there. A bent back is the most common cause of a wavy toothline. Chances are it won’t be much, but you need to fix it if the saw is going to be of any use. There are a number of ways to go about it and this is the method I use.

Basically I just rest the back on two blocks of wood convex side up, hold it in place with one hand and hit it with a deadblow hammer at the point where it is bent the most. I start with a light blow then check it. If it isn’t straight, I hit it harder and harder until the bend is removed.

The nice thing about this method is that most of the time, you don’t need to remove the handle. You do need to sneak up on the right amount of force though as you don’t want to bend it too far the other way. This saw took quite a blow to straighten it out due to the extra heavy spine.

So I re-toothed the plate using my template method that I’ve gone over previously and then set the teeth and sharpened them.

After sharpening, I stood the saw up (teeth down) on a granite surface and tried to slide a very thin piece of paper under the teeth all along the plate. I’m pleased to say that this is the first saw I’ve sharpened where I couldn’t get the paper under any of the teeth. Hooray! Could this be progress or just a fluke I wonder? LOL.

I haven’t really said much about saw files in this series yet, so let’s talk about them for a minute. Both of the files in the next photo are 6” double extra slim tapered files. The top one is the one I bought first and is made by Bahco. I like these files a lot and would recommend them. Saw files don’t last forever though, especially if you are using them to file in new teeth from scratch and I now need to replace this file. So that I could sharpen my saw today, I bought a 6” double-ended saw file made by Nicholson at a local hardware store, together with the uncomfortable plastic handle that the file pushes into.

I don’t like these files much. I suppose they are Ok if all you want to do is touch up a saw in order to bring it back to sharp. If you are doing any re-toothing or heavy shaping however, they afford so little movement that it takes more than double the amount of strokes to file a new tooth. I noticed that the corners are slightly more rounded than the Bahco file too.

I hesitated to buy it when I saw it said Nicholson, because not so long ago Paul Sellers pointed out on his blog that they ain’t what they used to be. He reported that the edges were just crumbling after a few strokes. This one was fine though.

Funnily enough, when I sharpened my Disston No.5 with a Bahco 5” extra slim file, two of the three edges crumbled as soon as they touched steel, so maybe this issue isn’t just confined to Nicholson. You can see what this looks like in the following two photos.

I thought I’d mention this problem because it is pointless to continue filing when this happens. If the file feels like it is grating, stop and check the edge. If you don’t, your teeth will end up in a right old mess.

Anyhow, back to the No.120. Some people say that 10 TPI is too coarse for a 14” backsaw, but l believe Lie Nielsen’s large tenon saw is 10 TPI, so I wanted to see what it was like to use. It does take a bit of getting used to (and I’m not there yet), but I think I am going to like this filing with a bit more practice.

Here’s a little video of the saw cutting a tenon cheek so you can see how it cuts. Once again, please excuse the wobbly bench.

So this is where the journey started for this saw…

…and here it is reborn.

Since this is the last of my rip backsaws, I thought I’d leave you with a rip saw family shot.


-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

26 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile


5353 posts in 4079 days

#1 posted 07-06-2012 01:27 AM

Those are just your rips! They are gorgeous.

I saw a client today who just returned from England yesterday after a 6 week visit. His wife is British. They went over for the Diamond Jubilee. He was remorse because he usually plays golf twice a week but couldn’t because of the incessant rain.

We talked for awhile and I thought I sounded fairly familiar with the current events over there just based on what I have read in your blogs. Cool.

Interestingly, Matt Cianci posted a blog entry just today on the sharpening of the 14” sash saw.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4055 days

#2 posted 07-06-2012 01:37 AM

Those are some beauties Andy. Thanks for sharing. Wont be long now, and you will have more saws than you know what to do with. Hint, hint.

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 5176 days

#3 posted 07-06-2012 02:03 AM

What great looking collection, even better with all of the work you’ve done putting some life back in them. I’m looking forward to seeing the crosscut collection. Keep up the information, you are the LJ expert on saw restoration!

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 4059 days

#4 posted 07-06-2012 02:06 AM

Wow Andy, looks terrific! What a really nice collection you have and a great knowledge you share. Great blog on all of this work, thanks for keeping us inspired at our benches!

All the best my friend,


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View Brit's profile


8508 posts in 4299 days

#5 posted 07-06-2012 08:06 AM

Scott – Glad you could hold your own on the diamond jubilee. Matt’s blog post on sash saws is very interesting. I am also starting to form an opinion on the rights and wrongs of filing 14” backsaws, but I’m not going to disclose it until the very last post in this series. I think you’ll find it interesting. Sorry if you can’t sleep at night in the meantime due to the suspense. :o)

Shane – I’m learning so much doing this, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. You’re right, once they’re all sharpened up, I’ll probably stand there for five minutes trying to choose which one to use. Life’s a bitch ain’t it?

kenn – I’m a long way from being an expert on saws, but I’m so glad I embarked on this journey. For anyone who works predominantly with hand tools, I think there are four groups of tools that you need to know intimately. Boring tools, saws, planes and chisels. I’m confident with boring tools, I’m nearly there with saws, but I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to planes and chisels. You can’t do everything at once though can you?

Joe – I don’t know about you, but I find that blogging really helps to consolidate my thoughts. It also gives me something to refer back to at a later date rather than having to call on my increasingly absent memory. LOL.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4791 days

#6 posted 07-06-2012 08:22 AM

Great blog(s) Andy. I always learn something interesting from them. I have to say that learning about these tools from the ground up should put you in a position to use them in the best way and just as importantly or maybe even more so, you will be able to maintain them properly, allowing you to get the best results from them. A very nice collection indeed. I also liked the squirrel.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Brit's profile


8508 posts in 4299 days

#7 posted 07-06-2012 10:08 AM

Thanks Mike. You’ve probably realised by now that I like picking a tool and getting totally absorbed in it. I think backsaws are fascinating tools and there is so much to learn in order to get the best out of them. I’m really enjoying the journey.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4546 days

#8 posted 07-06-2012 10:33 AM

Andy, yet another super informative blog, thank you. I also feel that blogging makes the thoughts settle, and the comments and ideas helps also.
What a wonderful collection of saws, I really admire your talent for the restore and your eye for what is worth buying and restoring.
Best thoughts,
I would also find it hard to choose from all these beauties.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View lysdexic's profile


5353 posts in 4079 days

#9 posted 07-06-2012 10:40 AM

Mads said- ” I really admire your talent for the restore and your eye for what is worth buying and restoring.”

I agree with that.

Also, someday I will restore my Tyzack 14” back saw and your saws will serve as the standard to which I will strive.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

View Don W's profile

Don W

20384 posts in 4024 days

#10 posted 07-06-2012 12:11 PM

that is a set of saws to be proud of Andy.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4075 days

#11 posted 07-06-2012 03:13 PM

Okay, someday I’ll have to get serious about saws and immerse myself in your sharpening blogs. What a tremendous resource you’ve opted to share! Always entertaining, too. Kudos, Andy, on your attention to detail and absolute resolve to master these fine tools. Thanks for posting, and Congrats on the Finished No. 120!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Brit's profile


8508 posts in 4299 days

#12 posted 07-06-2012 05:31 PM

Thanks guys.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 4103 days

#13 posted 07-07-2012 12:47 AM


-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View AnthonyReed's profile


10196 posts in 3897 days

#14 posted 07-07-2012 04:25 PM

That’s it? Really? A couple whacks with a deadblow and you have an arrow straight saw? Damn it Andy, must you make everything everything look so flipping easy to do?

Thank you for the continuing wealth of information and (if i am understanding it properly) congratulations on the completion of all your beautiful rip saws.

Top notch Sir, top notch.

-- ~Tony

View Mauricio's profile


7170 posts in 4608 days

#15 posted 07-07-2012 06:10 PM

I just love watching the videos of the saws in action, sounds just as nice as planes making shavings…

You make me want to buy some old saws every time I read your blogs. But then I look on eBay and brass backed saws are so scarce in the States, at least they aren’t available at reasonable prices.

I really needed one of those sash saws on my bench build. It would have actually been faster than using my band saw because I have had to spend time trueing up my cheeks with a router plane.

Thanks for all the great info, it will be a great resource to refer back to once I buy some more saws to rehab.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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