Alexander DIY reamer - need help on how to sharpen

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Blog entry by daltxguy posted 11-24-2010 06:29 AM 13684 reads 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built the ‘Alexander saw steel tapered reamer’ based on the information found on Jennie Alexander’s green woodworking website. SawSteelTaperedReamerPlans

I’m having some trouble understanding the instruction on how to sharpen the back edge of the saw blade, which works as a scraper to form the tapered hole.

Here’s what mine looks like now – As you may be able to make it out, it’s just a square edge right now.

Alexander says this about sharpening and this is the picture provided ( very small and can’t be enlarged ).

”View the blade from the heel, and chamfer so that the blade will ream when rotated clockwise. Drawfile the burr edge (or edges) to a 45° chamfer. It is helpful to chamfer the outside board clamping the blade in the vise. While the 45° arris can be cleaned up with a stone, that is not really necessary. Remember that your blade will be scraping end grain—not a pretty task. Thus the presence of saw teeth and a less than exquisite scraping burr do not adversely affect the reamed mortise. Put a drop of oil on the arris and lay it over by progressively burnishing until the burnisher is 10° below horizontal (1). Test the burr.”

It’s not clear to me which way the 45 chamfer should be. Can anyone help clarify?

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

9 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4169 days

#1 posted 11-24-2010 08:11 AM

maybee I´m totely of
but think on a scraber plane like the big Veritas
as I remember to have read you make a 45 degree bevel on the blade
and bunish the hook over from the dull side to the charp side of the scraper blade
and that way gives you a big burr
I think its something like that that is ment to be done
so the burr comes first when turning clockwice

hope my confusing point get thrugh (think Veritas show whats to do)


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4169 days

#2 posted 11-24-2010 08:14 AM

I was just on the link and there is a little picture beside the lathe picture
that shows what I just try to say

take care

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4968 days

#3 posted 11-24-2010 09:36 AM


Thanks – the Veritas reference is very helpful.

The small picture on the link didn’t help because I couldn’t see it clearly.

The veritas picture is here and I think this tells me what I need to know.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4169 days

#4 posted 11-24-2010 04:27 PM

yes thats something like that I thought of the little left drawing
I just remember something some people do when they bunish a card scraper
is that they bunish the flat side first ( let me see if I can explain it in English)
with a few degree angle sort of draging the steal edge out so it makes
a point on the small side (the picture with the hook but straight instead)
before you bunish from the dull side and roll the hook
they say its make a better hook on the cardscraber and I believe you can make
advances on that
all in all it shuold be like bunish a cardscraper ( if you don´t know how there is V-clips
on you-tube of it and I think FWW has one too on there site)

good luck with it a ceep us updated with the result
as I have put a reamer on my toooo long todo list :-)

have a great day

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 4992 days

#5 posted 11-24-2010 04:32 PM

I have a friend who is a chairmaker. He used to use these, but he found out that Toyota makes a reamer for something that is perfect for this, and it’s dirt cheap. You might want to check your local auto parts supplier.

If not, you want the flat of the blade facing the direction of rotation as viewed from the top. You cut your bevel on the steel on the opposite side. A long, 45 degree block to hold it and some fine grit sand paper will raise a beautiful hook that will ream a hole a lot easier than you might expect.

-- Steven

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4968 days

#6 posted 11-24-2010 09:26 PM

Thanks Dennis – I have card scrapers so I understand the idea of putting the burr on them but I don’t have a card scraper plane so never sharpened with a 45 degree chamfer.

Thanks Steven! Your understanding is now the same as mine so I know how to proceed. Good tip on the toyota reamer though I am located in the boondocks and nothing is cheap in NZ! The nearest auto parts supplier is a 3 hour round trip and $50 in diesel, never mind the ‘dirt cheap’ reamer. The used key hole saw blade cost me $1 and the wood is free from my forest.

Alexander claims that this tool cuts as cleanly as any commercial product – looking forward to trying it and completing some slab benches which are awaiting legs.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View misslolly's profile


52 posts in 3854 days

#7 posted 11-24-2010 10:37 PM

Very nice. Yes do let us know how you get on with it. This tool is on my to do list as well.

-- wishIstillhadaclydesdaleinmyfrontyard

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4169 days

#8 posted 11-24-2010 10:42 PM

It shuold do , after all its only the edge we need on the tool the rest is only
there to ceep the/hold the edge in the right place…..LOL

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3994 days

#9 posted 11-24-2010 10:51 PM

Interesting stuff! Never seen a tool like this but I like what I see. I need to get a lathe….

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

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