Homemade Dovetail Saw

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Project by Luke posted 05-19-2012 01:45 PM 5994 views 11 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had an old Sheffield Dovetail gents saw. It had a straight handle that was very uncomfortable and was impossible to make a square cut because it was very hard to tell if it was drifting from a layout line. I knocked the handle off the end of the spine and trimmed the spine to fit around the new handle. I made the handle from a piece of curly maple and shaped it with rasps. Sanded to 400 grit and finished with a 30/70 poly with 600 grit in between coats. You can’t tell how wood feels with pictures but it’s silky smooth. I went to Lowes and picked up an Irwin hand saw in order to get the handle bolts, cost me $14 but I couldn’t find anywhere else to buy them and I wanted to get it done. They are just steel bolts but they do the job fine. I saw a video online on how to drill the holes in the saw plate… well that didn’t work and I didn’t think it would. The bit just burned up trying to push it into the hardened plate. I decided to just punch it out with a hand punch but it was 1/4” and the bolts were a 64th more than that. I got my round file out and reamed the hole out just a bit for a perfect fit. I also filed the teeth which were really getting dull from all the use I’ve put them through. This was a fun project and I absolutely prefer functional woodworking project above things that you just look at. The last picture is what it used to look like.

Thanks for checking it out.

-- LAS,

14 comments so far

View Johnnyblot's profile


319 posts in 2697 days

#1 posted 05-19-2012 02:19 PM

You’ve got yourself a nice Dovetail Saw there. Well done. What T.P.I is it?
Made in Sheffield- Fettled in GA :-)

-- Gossamer shavings just floating around the back yard….-Bandit

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2713 days

#2 posted 05-19-2012 02:25 PM

Very nicely done! Necessity (or the perception thereof) is the Mother of invention (or in your case, creativity).

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Bsmith's profile


330 posts in 3091 days

#3 posted 05-19-2012 02:45 PM

Very nice. I too have made my own but haven’t got to the sharpening yet.

-- Bryan

View waho6o9's profile


8675 posts in 2997 days

#4 posted 05-19-2012 03:22 PM

Excellent work LAS! I like it.

View TrBlu's profile


386 posts in 3046 days

#5 posted 05-19-2012 03:42 PM

Nice work.

I have found saw nuts at my local Ace franchiser for $2 a piece.

Bad Ax Tools had the on their web site.

Lee Vally is another source. Lee Valley version is listed as “chicago bolt”.

-- The more I work with wood the more I recognize only God can make something as beautiful as a tree. I hope my humble attempts at this craft do justice by His masterpiece. -- Tim

View Don W's profile

Don W

19251 posts in 2988 days

#6 posted 05-19-2012 07:41 PM

very very nice

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

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3714 days

#7 posted 05-20-2012 02:37 AM

I saw the ones at bad axe but after buying and shipping I think the price was like double. They would have looked nice but I really wanted to get the project done and start cutting some dovetails. Ace used to be the place but our local handy shut down many years ago. Real shame because they had everything.
I forgot to mention that the coolest part of this project is that I started with a $30 saw, bought $14 bolts in the Irwin saw and ended up with what in my opinion is a $150 saw. Just my opinion i know but it is very functional and now really sharp and the saw plate lines up perfectly with the handle so it really is nice to use.

-- LAS,

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3309 days

#8 posted 05-20-2012 08:54 AM

Hi Luke.

Not just a new saw, but with the steel blade left from the bolt donor, you can make a number of useful items too. Scratch stocks spring to mind right off the bat. Marking knife blades too.

A tool that works well is a joy. A tool that works well and looks great is twice a joy. One you also made yourself is a triple joy forever.


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3023 days

#9 posted 05-20-2012 12:50 PM

Really nice work on the handle, I am sure it was fun to make. Thanks for sharing it!

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

View CampD's profile


1786 posts in 3907 days

#10 posted 05-20-2012 01:12 PM

Nice, now I have to do that too!

-- Doug...

View mafe's profile


12075 posts in 3510 days

#11 posted 05-21-2012 09:31 AM

Wonderful conversion.
Lovely saw you made.
Best thoughts,

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

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1588 posts in 3985 days

#12 posted 01-09-2013 03:06 AM

Nice conversion Luke, how do you like using it?

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3714 days

#13 posted 01-09-2013 03:12 AM

It is absolutely better than it was before, no doubt. I only wonder after my sharpening job is it anywhere near as good as say, a bad axe or lie nielsen? I had a lie nielsen tenon saw until recently selling it but the teeth were so much larger than a dovetail saw so hard to tell. I need to find a local friend that has one I can compare to, or perhaps just send mine off to be professionally sharpened?

-- LAS,

View TDog's profile


235 posts in 2650 days

#14 posted 04-30-2013 02:45 AM

As Americans do, if you have the materials and are willing to try, make it.
Great looking saw, and I’m a hundred percent American

-- "So many little time..." Psalm 23

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