dovetail saw

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Project by Bertha posted 01-07-2018 02:12 AM 2807 views 3 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Made a dovetail saw from some Blackburn supplies. Started with a template I liked and transferred it to a piece of Zircote that I resawed to 7/8”

Coped down to the line

I could lie and say I used nothing but rasps but, in honesty, I used a die grinder with rasp bits mostly.

And a lot of sanding.

I got a blade blank and brass spine from Blackburn. I got it where I liked it, then mortised out for the spine. I slotted for the plate in a handscrew on the bandsaw.

I got the plate where I wanted it and allowed the spine to be proud. I then cut it off at the toe and shaped the edge. I locked the assembly with clamps and tapped the plate with a spade bit and round file.

Walnut danish oil cut with regular, wetsanded to 800 and clear waxed. You’ll notice some asymmetry and odd valleys because I fitted it exactly to my hand. Feels great.

If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t use Zircote. Way too hard. I’d use another split screw instead of the medallion. I’d cut the spine mortise with something other than chisels. I’d probably chamfer the spine.

I’m going to sharpen it rip 16tpi no set.

Edit: made a leather shroud with and old school scottish style.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

22 comments so far

View AaronK's profile


1512 posts in 4542 days

#1 posted 01-07-2018 02:29 AM

Man, carving a plane handle (of cherry, not even zircote like you have) was one of my least favorite activities in woodworking. Lol. No shame in going motorized.

Nice work generally. That spine looks beefy. Is it grooved for the plate?

Also, have you ever used a saw with no set for joinery? What’s it like? Are you limited to particular species? I suppose even if you haven’t you can work up to whatever set you want starting from zero.

View swirt's profile


6183 posts in 4050 days

#2 posted 01-07-2018 02:39 AM

Beautiful saw Bertha. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2564 days

#3 posted 01-07-2018 03:33 AM

Looks awesome.

I tried a folded back but it didn’t agree with me. Have some blackburn hardware ordered.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View balidoug's profile


524 posts in 3556 days

#4 posted 01-07-2018 03:52 AM

Glorious. And thanks for all the photos. great work.

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3771 days

#5 posted 01-07-2018 05:01 AM

Thanks, guys. Aaron, I’m done with the zircote for a while. I treated it like ebony, using microplane-type rasps and mill files for metal. It sands nicely at higher grits but the shaping isn’t enjoyable to me. The only saws I have with no set are dovetail saws. Tenon and up are set to some degree. As you’d imagine, they cut slower but a stiff one can give you a superfine kerf. So yeah, the spine is a full fat 1/4 inch thick with a 1/4 inch deep kerf along its width. Buried in the handle and peened to the anchored plate, it’s stiff, stiff. So stiff that it makes an odd tone. And it’s really, really heavy.

Fridge, I think you’ll like the blackburn spine but you may want to shape it (I didn’t). It’s thick and heavy (which I wanted) and probably overkill as shipped. I’ve got an old Hope DT saw with a folded steel back. I don’t care for the appearance and the kerf is huge, but it’s one of my favorite saws to use. Massive kerf so the strikeline can get tricky.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Andre's profile


4509 posts in 2884 days

#6 posted 01-07-2018 05:07 AM

I just traced the handle on my Gramercy, feels real nice! Carved/Filed/Rasps it out of Black Walnut, now to find a blade to put into it? Your saw looks like a good user tried it out yet?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Holbs's profile


2379 posts in 3107 days

#7 posted 01-07-2018 06:58 AM

that is beautiful

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1725 days

#8 posted 01-07-2018 11:22 AM

Good looking saw … kudos!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7427 posts in 1660 days

#9 posted 01-07-2018 12:06 PM

Good looking saw, and a handle that really fits is a joy to use.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Don W's profile

Don W

20049 posts in 3645 days

#10 posted 01-07-2018 12:15 PM


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

View theoldfart's profile


12592 posts in 3529 days

#11 posted 01-07-2018 05:17 PM

Excellent saw Al. I know you said that it’s 7/8” but the pics make it look like the handle is huge and your hand is tiny!

Is the spine secured somehow?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View ralbuck's profile


6744 posts in 3344 days

#12 posted 01-07-2018 06:22 PM

Great job.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3771 days

#13 posted 01-07-2018 06:47 PM

Fart, my hands are small to make up for my enormous clown-like genitalia. The handle is big and bulky but fits wonderfully. I’m that guy who has to fatten up pistol grips, as well. I “think” the spine is attached. It’s buried in the handle and I punched the grooved edge a few times over an anvil. It feels secure enough. If the spine works free, it’ll just fall off the blade upward. I’ll have to epoxy or rivet in in, but it’s good for now.

It’s a heavy saw. It weighs as much as any tenon saw I own. It feels well balanced though, not tippy. What’s nice is once you’ve tapped and grooved the handle, you can put it all together before tapping the plate (through the existing holes in the grip). I played with it quite a bit before settling on an angle that felt natural. Then I just re-shaped the front-most grip a bit to make it parallel to the spine. That was the last step, affixing the plate.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View CFrye's profile


11246 posts in 2917 days

#14 posted 01-07-2018 07:16 PM

Beautiful saw, Bertha! The handle looks great. Using a tool that you’ve made is so satisfying, no matter if it’s something you tossed together to finish a job or labored over to last for generations, like your saw here. Thanks for sharing.
By the way, have the mountains in West Vahickey grown in the last decade or two? ;-)

-- God bless, Candy

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3944 days

#15 posted 01-07-2018 07:38 PM

You did a beautiful job on this saw.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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