Saw Talk #23: 12" W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner Carcase Saw - Fitting a folded back

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Blog entry by Brit posted 01-05-2013 12:21 AM 11807 reads 2 times favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 22: Combination Saw Tooth Geometries Compared Part 23 of Saw Talk series Part 24: What's taking me so long to finish this blog series...? »

Have you missed me? Sorry for leaving you hanging for so long, but work was a bit manic leading up to Christmas. Now where was I? Oh yeah, I was just about to sharpen the last of my crosscut backsaws, a 12” carcase saw made by W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner.


I restored this saw in part 1 of this blog series. It had a number of issues and honestly, it still has a few of them.

1) The plate was heavily pitted in places.
2) The plate had a wave in it.


3) The spine was bent.
4) It was missing a split-nut.


5) The screws were bent and very little of the thread remains.
6) The spine doesn’t fit the handle very well.


The above problems mean that this will never be a pretty saw, but I didn’t have the heart to just throw it in the bin. As part of restoring this saw, I straightened out the wave in the plate, or so I thought. However, when I came to sharpen it today, I noticed that the wave had returned. Bummer! On closer examination, I found that the spine was also slightly bent. As I’ve said before, there’s no point in sharpening a saw with a wave or a bent back, you have to fix those problems first, starting with straightening the spine.

When I straightened the back of my S&J Carcase saw in part 4, I used the following method where I sighted along the underside of the back and placed my finger on the convex side where it was bent the most. I marked that point with a bit of masking tape so I knew where to direct my mallet blow.


This time I placed my combination square on the convex side of the plate and rocked the straight edge until the gap was equal at either end. I could then see that the fulcrum point was so many inches from one end and that’s where I needed to hit it. If the spine is stamped with the maker’s name, you can sometimes use the lettering to remember where the fulcrum point is. (E.g. Hit the ‘T’ of the word Tyzack.) Then I placed the back on the blocks and hit it with my deadblow mallet. You need to sneak up on the right amount of force and check it frequently with the straight edge until it no longer rocks. One point worth mentioning is that steel backs take a lot more force than brass backs.

Once the spine was straight, I sighted along the toothline. Although much improved, it still wasn’t straight enough. Usually you can hold the saw as shown below and rap the toe end of the back on your bench to straighten out a wave.


I managed to improve it a bit, but I couldn’t get it perfect using this method. This gave me the opportunity to try something new and that was to remove the spine and refit it. The act of refitting a plate in a spine has the effect of re-tensioning the plate. These days many makers use slotted backs on their saws where the slot is machined to the thickness of the plate. Some makers even glue or pin the plate in the spine. However a folded back is different. In order for the two sides of the spine to grip the plate the spine has to be sprung. This means that when you remove the plate from the spine, the sides close up.

I think there are pros and cons for both types of backs, but for me a folded back is preferable, as it allows you to adjust the tension and also to easily replace the plate should it get irreversibly damaged.
Anyhow, I gripped the plate in the vise and used a block of hardwood and a mallet to knock off the spine. It was a BITCH to get off let me tell you, but I got there in the end.

After cleaning the plate and spine, it was time for re-fitting. I used the method kindly documented in the following four videos by Tools For Working Wood. Notice how the saw maker positions the plate and spine to get it started and how he then turns the whole assembly over and bashes the teeth (yes the teeth) with a softwood bat shaped a bit like a little cricket bat. In the last video he adjusts the position of the plate relative to the spine so that the assembly will fit into the handle correctly and the holes in the plate will line up with the holes in the handle. Enjoy.

I watched these videos a few times before I plucked up the courage to try it for myself. I’m pleased to report that it was far easier than I thought it was going to be and the plate went straight back into the spine first time. Adjusting it was a bit more tricky than it appears in the videos because the Gramercy saw in the demonstration has a nice notch in the plate that comes to rest on the metal block in his vise. Old saw plates didn’t have that feature (at least none of mine do), so I had to keep tapping and offering it up to the handle to know when the alignment was correct.

The good news was that the wave had now gone and the back was still straight. HOORAH! Now I could do what I set out to do when I got up this morning and that was to sharpen the damn thing. Don’t you just love these little distractions?

After filing off all the old teeth, I retoothed it by hand to 12TPI and sharpened it with 15 degrees of rake and 25 degrees of fleam. This will be great for making crosscuts in softwood. So here she is folks. She isn’t pretty, but she cuts beautifully.




You know when I had almost finished sharpening her I had to smile, because although I haven’t sharpened a saw since I last posted here (145 days ago), I hadn’t forgotten either the process, the technique or the feel. And that my friends, is exactly the place I hoped I’d get to when I started this journey last year.

Well that was the last of my backsaws. In my next and final post (ok it might be two), I will try to sum up what I think I’ve learnt about restoring and sharpening saws. I have formed some surprising and somewhat controversial conclusions about tooth geometry, which I’ll also share with you.


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

33 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

20381 posts in 4022 days

#1 posted 01-05-2013 12:31 AM

Excellent Andy. You’ve got a dream set of saws, all of your own doing. You can’t ask for more than that.

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

View bhog's profile


2238 posts in 4145 days

#2 posted 01-05-2013 01:04 AM

Alot of good info there Andy.I am going to have to read all your others sometime-I am usually late to the party.

I like your tool belt.Almost looks like occidental but I doubt it is.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View chrisstef's profile


18140 posts in 4461 days

#3 posted 01-05-2013 01:07 AM

Thank you Andy. Talented on many levels, both writing and teaching. Your journey has been a lot of fun to follow along.

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

View Brit's profile


8508 posts in 4297 days

#4 posted 01-05-2013 01:13 AM

Thanks guys and yes the tool belt is made by Occidental Leather. All the way from the USA. It holds the items I tend to use a lot and was always losing. Now I don’t.


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

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 3831 days

#5 posted 01-05-2013 01:32 AM

Saw sure looks purdy to me. looks better than most of the new saws sold today. i have to read your whole series since i’m about to do some saws myself.

Where’s that purdy little combi square that’s always in your pics?

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View Brit's profile


8508 posts in 4297 days

#6 posted 01-05-2013 01:42 AM

Scot nicked it and posted it on the Measuring and Marking Tools thread. Seriously though, it had the day off. Anyhow, my little square is in metric.

-- 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 4544 days

#7 posted 01-05-2013 02:06 AM

I think it is a really pretty saw!
It has charm.
Always a pleasure to follow your saw talk, I look forward to hear your conclutions.
Happy newyear and the best of my thoughts,

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

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4053 days

#8 posted 01-05-2013 02:15 AM

He is back! The tool belt is pretty fancy. Good to have the series back, like a premier after watching re-runs.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4073 days

#9 posted 01-05-2013 03:22 AM

Wow, Andy, now you’ve raised the bar to include pulling backs off of backsaws! Unbelievable and truly inspiring! Thanks for the words, wished you’d have taken some pics of yours in two pieces (not that I’m saying it didn’t happen or anything.. :-) )

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

View Mosquito's profile


11755 posts in 3747 days

#10 posted 01-05-2013 04:11 AM

if that’s “not pretty” I’ll take your “not pretty” any day…

It looks great

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Mauricio's profile


7170 posts in 4606 days

#11 posted 01-05-2013 04:50 AM

It’s been way too long Andy!

Great info. Who says she’s not a beauty! The pitting adds a little character and the handle is beautiful.

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4789 days

#12 posted 01-05-2013 08:19 AM

Great blog Andy and glad you’re back. I will probably never use this interesting info, but just knowing about it makes me feel like a more knowledgeable woodworker. I find the historic aspect also very interesting.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4311 days

#13 posted 01-05-2013 08:53 AM

Great blog Andy
I’ve never seen a steel back saw before I live a sheltered life
I’ve still got a nice we saw that I was challenged with to bring
back to life. This will help a lot.
Seasons Greetings fae up North

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Brit's profile


8508 posts in 4297 days

#14 posted 01-05-2013 10:17 AM

Mads – Happy New Year to you and yours too. I hope your new apartment is all you want it to be when you finally move in. It is always a pleasure to read your comments.

Shane – ”Like a premier after watching re-runs” That made me laugh.

Smitty – You’re right of course, I should have taken photos with the back off. Truth is, it just didn’t enter my head. I guess I’m a bit rusty when it comes to blogging.

Mos & Mauricio – Thanks guys.

Mike – ”…a more knowledgeable woodworker.” I know what you mean. It is funny, but getting so intimate with all of these saws has led me to question a lot of what I’d previously taken for granted with regard to saws and sawing. I hope I can find the right words to convey what I want to say as I round off this series.

Jamie – Steel backs were very common in the US, less so in the UK. However, most of the big manufacturers offered steel as an alternative to brass. They tended to retail for a bit less too, which was a big consideration in days gone by when a saw cost over half their weekly wage. Here is an example of the variations offered by W. Tyzack, Sons & Turner back in the 1920s. Note that the prices are shown in shillings per dozen.

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

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 4057 days

#15 posted 01-05-2013 02:02 PM

Awesome saw stuff as always Andy. Those saws look terrific and that belt is really cool as well. Keep up with the great information and inspiring work!

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

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