It was nearing the end of our lesson, and my student asked me why I had so many different types of hand saws. I explained the purpose of each of the saws, then he pointed to a Stanley saw that I bought in the early 1990’s.
I told him that I don’t really use that saw anymore because it is not a very good saw. I had used it a couple of times for ripping a board, but it did not do a very good job. I naturally assumed it was a rip saw since it was long. The packaging just said it was a tool box saw. So there it hung gathering dust.
Then he pointed to my “new” old Atkins rip saw, and he asked me what was the difference between this saw, and that Stanley saw. Now, here is where the story gets interesting. (wavy lines now appear before your eyes and you hear that “back in time” type of music) Until about a six or seven months ago, I really did not know much about hand saws. I knew the teeth of a rip saw were bigger, and my cheap backsaw had a lot of teeth, and that was about all the of the technical aspects of hand saws I knew. Then I started reading, “The Saw Blog”, then I fell down that rabbit hole and learned a whole lot about saws. The different types: hand saws, panel saws, back saws, bow saws, rip saws, crosscut saws, etc… Then I learned about angle of attack, fleam, rake and the set of the teeth. More than the average Joe on the street would want to know before shooting themselves from sheer boredom. And now I is an “ed-u-ma-cated” man about saws. (wavy lines now appear before your eyes and you hear that “back in time” type of music again)
I pulled down my Atkins rip saw and showed him the teeth. “Notice how all the teeth are straight and notice how they do not angle out to the side. This is a rip saw.” Then I pulled down the dusty Stanley saw, and alarm bells went off in my head. HOLY S&%T! No wonder this saw is a piece of crap rip saw. It’s a cross-cut saw! Of course, my natural acting skills completely covered my shock. Then I showed him how the teeth were bent outward from the blade, and how they were filed in different directions in a very calm manner. If you are old enough to remember watching cartoons when they only came on Saturday morning, then you might remember scenes where the main character, e.g. Bugs Bunny, might do something stupid, and his head, would turn into a donkey. Yes, in the cartoon world, I suddenly became a Jackass. That will teach me to look at things more closely now, won’t it!
In my defense, I entered the woodworking world as a power tool user, otherwise known as a “Normite”. (A reference to Norm Abrams from “The New Yankee Workshop”) When I took “Shop” in school, we used power tools. When I started watching Norm, I used power tools like Norm. In the past year and half to two years, I have truly started to understand the how’s and why’s of hand tools. Thanks to the Internet and blogging, my hand tool education has made me a much better woodworker. And even though my students; sigh, roll their eyes, and moan when I pull out the plane or a handsaw, I want them to understand the basics and fundamentals of working with hand tools. Yes, I am a jackass, but I have learned my lesson. Hey Jackass! Don’t eat the roses, look at them too!