Two hours and what I saw

You know, there is a lot to be said for the phrase, “seeing is believing.” And I will add to that, actually looking is mighty important too.

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.

This is what it looked like

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.

My Atkins rip saw

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!

About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
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3 Responses to Two hours and what I saw

  1. Torch02 says:

    There’s nothing like those “a-ha!” moments.

    If you want to go further down the rabbit hole, Bob Rozaieski did a two part series on Nicholson’s saw definitions (Part 1 & Part 2) where he laid out the choices for his till. Chris Schwarz also did an interesting piece on back saws a few years ago to add more info for us obsessives hobbyists.

  2. Slissie says:

    I had one of those “tool Box saws” as a matter of fact the same exact model. I was cutting a piece of a small downed Oak (cross-cut) when I realized that the saw was no longer cutting well, It was about that time that I drew back the blade and realized that it was an Iron Oak…OK it was really just a white Oak with a decent sized nail in it. (EEEE-AWWW) I would have expected that the teeth would have been dulled and bent but to my surprise I looked down (and we all know what it means in cartoon physics when you look down) Yup, half the teeth had popped off like how corn kernels comes off the cob in cartoons. I couldn’t have hit the nail more than a few times even. Needless to say, I was so disappointed with it, I filed it in the pile of “here is some steel to make some other tool with” and there it has set for three years now….ARGHHH. Now I know that it was not the manufacturers fault that I do not always look at what I saw, but goodness I would have hoped to have salvaged it even if just for cutting tubafirs. Thank you for the awesome story Yaakov! I learned my lesson.

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