Dovetail Saw

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Project by Ben posted 09-14-2012 02:09 AM 3924 views 15 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been wanting to make some seriously nice tools for a while now. This stems partly from my desire to have nice tools without having to pay a huge amount for them, and partly from wanting to tackle the challenge. So I bought the spring steel and the brass. Fortunately since I’m a high school science teacher I have access to to some of the tools in the school’s machine shop. I was able to cut the spring steel to shape and bend the back relatively easy. I tried bending one back using just a hammer and anvil and it turned out ok but nothing like what i would want a finished piece to look like. The tote is made of zebra wood and is modeled after a kenyon style saw finished in BLO. I first cut out the general shape on my bandsaw and then filed it to fit my hand. The nuts are just brass nuts and machine screws from my local hardware store. nothing too fancy, but I think I may have to stick with them for future saws because of their relative ease to procure and use. Plus I like how they turned out. The other side of the saw actually has the hexagonal nuts mortised in and flush sanded. The teeth were each scratched in with a needle file and then finished with a triangular file. The gullet depth isn’t extremely even, but man does it cut like a dream. The plate is .018 in. No taper grinding, and I left the blue temper on the blade because I thought it looked cool. I put as small a set on it as I could with my saw sets. As this was my first attempt, I welcome any comments or criticisms anyone might have.

-- Do something nice for somebody

18 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3018 days

#1 posted 09-14-2012 02:13 AM

Beautiful. Love the zebrawood.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2712 days

#2 posted 09-14-2012 03:20 AM

Very nice job. I especially admire your ability to do this project from complete scratch.

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

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 2677 days

#3 posted 09-14-2012 03:50 AM

Very nice, although one critique. The grain direction in the handle may have been a poor choice, although I have no idea how well zebra wood makes for a handle.

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3253 days

#4 posted 09-14-2012 10:11 AM

Gasp, I have similar work in progress! Though I had trouble with my metal folding jig, one of the hinges wasn’t strong enough to get the pressure from folding 0,8 mm thick brass plate.

Anyway. Your saw looks as good as I hope mine to be once it’s done! By the way, did you check out Norse Woodsmith's backsaw building page ? Lots of very useful info about cutting the teeth properly in there :)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View TimWood's profile


196 posts in 2661 days

#5 posted 09-14-2012 10:27 AM

I looked at the project and thought ‘nice…he’s made a new handle’. Nope…that cat made an entire saw! Nice work Ben. You probably thought you’d never finish the teeth. I’m with you, I like the blue.
My high school science teacher was innovative like you and has probably made the most lasting impact on my life. It was the 70’s and a private school, but we had snakes in his classroom in plywood boxes with glass fronts. The poisonous ones had a lock on the box. We received extra credit for bringing him things to feed the snakes and we often got to stay after school to watch the snakes eat. We received even more of credit if we brought him a snake! The big cottonmouth I caught was a real help to this C student! The highlight of the annual Halloween carnival was the snake show featuring the 2 king cobras as the stars. We had to YEARLY do butterfly collections and at 53 years old, I can still identify many butterflies as they fly by and often tell if they’re male or female. Decades later, my take away is he left me with an understanding that there is a LOT out there in the world and a thirst to discover it! From England, his name was Reginald Wallingston Titmus III.
Kudos to the innovative teachers!!!!

-- Tim Harrelson

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3200 days

#6 posted 09-14-2012 12:58 PM

Love it Ben !
Great piece of scratch built work and nice end product !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3276 days

#7 posted 09-14-2012 02:02 PM

Well done

That will be a pleasure to use.


-- 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 rance's profile


4271 posts in 3580 days

#8 posted 09-14-2012 02:19 PM

I admire your tenacity to file all those teeth. I’ve considered just sharpening a saw like that but not taken the plunge. Not sure I want to ever ‘tool up’ to that area of woodworking. I went back specifically to look at the grain direction before I read the comments. It looks spot on to me but I’m no expert.

Very well done. TPI? Rip/Crosscut?

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Grumpymike's profile


2387 posts in 2735 days

#9 posted 09-14-2012 06:11 PM

I’m sure that this tool will hang in a place of prominence on your tool wall.
I can only imagine the pride you have for that saw.
Give yourself two gold stars for that one. :)

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3403 days

#10 posted 09-14-2012 06:17 PM

nice saw and choice of wood!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3535 days

#11 posted 09-14-2012 06:29 PM

well done :-)

if you find your set on the teeth is too much you can lay the saw flat on a table
with the brassback outside the edge of the table and take a few strokes on each side
of the blade with a sharpeninstone on the teeth


View Schwieb's profile


1889 posts in 3881 days

#12 posted 09-14-2012 08:46 PM

Beautiful work. I admire what you have done and I to congratulate you on being inspirational to your students. My science and shop teachers were really inspiring to me as was my scout leader back in the early 60’s.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2595 days

#13 posted 09-14-2012 08:54 PM

Did someone mention first? I highly doubt it! This is a work of a skilled craftsman.

View bladedust's profile


215 posts in 2686 days

#14 posted 09-14-2012 11:24 PM

Astounding! More skill than I would ever hope to master.

-- ok, is it cut once measure twice, cut twice measure once???? I know....I'll just keep cutting until it's long enough.

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 3181 days

#15 posted 09-14-2012 11:56 PM

Nice work. Definately inspirational. Thanks for link. I’ve got some old saws that are destined for repurpose.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

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