Frame Saw

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Project by Scott R. Turner posted 02-10-2018 10:41 PM 3953 views 7 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

(Update: This project was featured in the October 2018 issue of Popular Woodworking.)

This is a frame saw for my workshop that I recently completed. The basic dimensions are about 33” x 16”, although the handles are about 30” wide. This is my own design and was built with hand tools.

The two ends are African Mahogany, carved with acanthus leaves and scrolls. The secondary end features a flower motif that is echoed on each of the stretchers. The driver’s end features an inlaid compass rose in Cherry and Holly that is intended to help guide the saw to cut straight and true. Each end is center drilled for the mounting hardware. The mounting hole is lined with hard maple to reduce wear.

The stretchers are hard maple. Each is carved on the outside in a blade tooth motif with a central flower design. The sides are carved with a repeating sun pattern. Both ends of the stretchers are tenoned to fit corresponding mortises on the arms. One end of each stretcher has a small carving representing the correct way to assemble the saw. (The saw is held together by the blade tension.)

The mounting hardware uses toggle-style stud anchors from McMaster-Carr. The toggles are drilled out and replaced with (at least temporarily) cotter pins. (I think I stole this idea from someone here on Lumberjocks, but it was so long ago I don’t recall whom!) The anchors are retained by brass nuts and washers, and the saw blade is tightened using opposing wrenches on either end of the saw. The blade is 700 mm Rip Frame Saw Blade from Highland Woodworking.

The saw was finished primarily with hand planes and scrapers. (I had to fashion a number of small curved scrapers to finish the scrolls.) The handles and a few problem spots were sanded. A coat of boiled linseed oil was followed with several coats of wipe-on satin-finish polyurethane.

Progress Shots

Laying out the basic design with rulers, french curves and math:

Transferring the pattern to the mahogany blank:

End blanks sawn out:

Rough shaping the handles:

Sizing the stretchers with a drawknife (so I didn’t have to rip hard maple :-)

Ends drilled and mortised:

Relief cuts at the beginning of carving the scrolls:

Rough carved scrolls and start of acanthus leaves:

Although perhaps excessively ornate for a working tool, this is in use in my workshop. Here is the first test cut:

View on YouTube
I intentionally made the frame fairly hefty so that the weight would help drive the saw through the wood. As you can see in the video, I’m not working very hard and there’s copious saw dust getting dumped on every stroke. Here’s the result of that first cut:

I haven’t yet bothered to sharpen the blade, so I was pretty happy. (This is a Cocobolo panel which will be the top of a tea box for my son in honor of his college graduation.)

I have the hardware for a matching kerfing plane, but I haven’t started that yet.

Thanks for looking!

20 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


11807 posts in 3259 days

#1 posted 02-10-2018 10:56 PM

Magnificent saw.

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

View wcp's profile


156 posts in 1407 days

#2 posted 02-10-2018 11:14 PM

What a beautiful saw, it’s too pretty to use. Great job on the build, if it cuts half as good as it looks, it will be a great addition to the shop.


View Woodknack's profile


13442 posts in 3188 days

#3 posted 02-11-2018 01:09 AM

That about the best frame saw I’ve ever seen. When I get more time I’ll watch the video and study the pics.

-- Rick M,

View daiku_padawan's profile


108 posts in 1037 days

#4 posted 02-11-2018 01:16 AM

Holy cow! That’s gorgeous.
I just got a hardware kit from Bad Axe Tools that I hope to build a frame for one of these days.

-- ~Daniel

View franktha4th's profile


84 posts in 982 days

#5 posted 02-11-2018 03:10 AM

amazing carving work!

-- Frank, Washington State,

View franktha4th's profile


84 posts in 982 days

#6 posted 02-11-2018 03:11 AM

I like the contrasting wood color too!

-- Frank, Washington State,

View summerfi's profile


4380 posts in 2495 days

#7 posted 02-11-2018 04:57 AM

Beautiful job well done.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View Ivan's profile


16088 posts in 3675 days

#8 posted 02-11-2018 05:23 AM

Looks awesome. Will you actualy use it? It’s so beautiful it can easily hang on living room wall as decoration.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3674 days

#9 posted 02-11-2018 04:03 PM

Wow! This is a beautiful shop made saw. Congratulations on a great saw.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View CL810's profile


4052 posts in 3796 days

#10 posted 02-11-2018 04:19 PM

Fabulous saw that will serve for generations. Beautiful work.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View BurlyBob's profile


7712 posts in 3073 days

#11 posted 02-11-2018 05:11 PM

That is one beautiful piece of workmanship. It’s almost to pretty to use.

View 489tad's profile


3865 posts in 3819 days

#12 posted 02-11-2018 06:26 PM

You set the bar pretty high. The carvings are great.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View AJ1104's profile


1107 posts in 2467 days

#13 posted 02-11-2018 07:05 PM

Wow. This looks like it should be a musical instrument. Simply an amazing piece of functional art!

-- AJ

View bondogaposis's profile


5804 posts in 3159 days

#14 posted 02-11-2018 07:49 PM

Impressive to say the least. Just wow!

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

273 posts in 3996 days

#15 posted 02-11-2018 08:59 PM

Thanks everyone for the kind comments! I probably should have said, but I have been inspired by the Studley tool chest and stories of the craftsmen of the past to make tools that reflect my love of the art of woodworking and (even though I don’t make my living as a woodworker!) advertise the beauty of woodworking.

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