How to Build Your Own Handsaw
A professional-quality saw, custom-fitted to your hand
Synopsis: Whether you make a dovetail saw or carcase saw, the process for making a handsaw is a great introduction to tool making. The parts are few and readily available, and it doesn’t cost a lot of time or money. Here, you’ll learn to make your own saw, from shaping the handle to cutting the slot for the blade and the mortise for the spine, to finishing.
Handsaws are a great introduction to tool making. The parts are few and readily available, and there’s no huge investment in time or money to create a top-notch saw that fits your hand perfectly. The only tasks that require care are shaping the handle and cutting the slot for the blade and the mortise for the spine, both of which are easy for a furniture maker to tackle.
Whether you make a dovetail saw or carcase saw, the process is the same. here I’ll illustrate the project using a closed-handled carcase saw (far left), but I have included a design for a dovetail saw. The carcase saw is my adaptation of an old disston pattern. The 3-in.-wide by 12-in.-long blade is a great size for cutting joinery—tenons, notches, or miters—and cutting parts to final length. I tweaked the handle design and some dimensions to end up with a classic-style saw that fits the hand better than the original.
Rough out the handle
I chose European beech for the handle because it’s fairly hard, closed-grained, and not prone to splitting. Cherry and walnut are also great choices.
Start by tracing the pattern onto 7⁄8-in.- thick stock, aligning the grain so that it runs in line with the saw plate. Make the exterior cuts at the bandsaw and the interior on the scrollsaw. After the pattern…