Sharpen your own backsaw
It's easier than you think
Synopsis: There’s a lot of complicated detail out there about the best way to sharpen a handsaw, but professional saw maker Mark Harrell says you don’t really need it. You can sharpen any backsaw using a few simple tools and his step-by-step method. Learn how to turn your vise into a saw vise using a few strips of angle iron and some leather. Then learn how to mark and joint the teeth, and file the gullets for the tooth pattern you want, whether it’s rip, crosscut, or a hybrid of the two.
If you can sharpen a plane iron, you can sharpen a sawtooth. There’s a lot of information online about tooth geometry, and it can be valuable for folks like me who sharpen saws every day, some of which are heavily damaged. but that level of detail is overkill for most woodworkers, who simply need to sharpen a Western-style backsaw that is in good shape but dull.
Maybe you have a nice vintage saw, or you purchased a great new model a few years ago and it’s time to freshen up the teeth. In these situations, you can simply replicate the original sharpening angles and make things easy on yourself. but you can use my methods to resharpen almost any backsaw—be it a tenoning or dovetail saw sharpened for rip cutting, a dedicated crosscut saw such as a carcase or miter saw, or an all-purpose saw with a hybrid pattern.
Wondering if your saw is dull? If you have to apply downward pressure to get the saw to cut—in other words, if the weight of the saw is not enough on its own—your saw needs sharpening.
You don’t need many specialized tools to sharpen a saw. You can turn any vise…