View Full Version : Completed Bowsaw (PIC)

Marc Hills
06-09-2003, 11:43 PM
Here's my attempt at traditional tool making. If this bowsaw design looks familiar, there is a good chance you've seen a stack of these in the "Sightings" photo on the Hand Tools forum at WoodCentral.

I really like this particular design. The rounded elements at each end to the stretcher made the mortise and tenon joinery a bit challenging, but they also make the project distinctive, and seem to allow a wider range of tension adjustment.

The frame is oak, and the tensioning paddle and blade handles are maple. I had to improvise with the blade mounting hardware. I couldn't find 5/16" brass rod locally, so I used brass-finish door hinge pins. I cut them down to size and then sawed a slit in each with a hacksaw. After drilling holes, clipped brass finish nails served as the blade retaining pins.

I don't have a lathe to turn the blade handles, so I used the ends of a maple rolling pin I found at a local unfinished wood furniture store.

It actually cuts very well, using any of the 3 pack of 12" blades available through Dieffenbacher tools. I used the mail order opportunity to buy a spokeshave, which was invaluable for contouring the uprights and stretcher. Does anyone else find it really hard to sharpen a spokeshave blade? It's too short to really hold well. I was stumped until it dawned on me to snap on a pair of small vice-grip pliers. Honing was a lot easier that way.

You know how they say that wood putty can cover a multitude of sins? Well, no wood putty here, but the low pixel count likewise hides a lot of rough spots on this project. But I'm pleased with how it came out, at least by my standards. The fact that it also happens to be a functional tool just makes it particularly satisfying.

Dave Anderson NH
06-10-2003, 9:17 AM
Congrats Marc, so far this is the first bowsaw I've seen of this design from all of the plans I mailed out and gave to friends from our guild. What did you use for a finish on the oak?

Steve Clardy
06-10-2003, 10:03 AM

Robert Goodwin
06-10-2003, 11:01 AM
Wonderfull. I have been wanting to make one, but I have to finish the workbench first. There must be a great satisfaction from using a tool that you made yourself...

Great work!


Marc Hills
06-10-2003, 11:20 AM

If Iíve restored your faith in helping out beginners, then I have accomplished something. The finish is 3 coats of BLO and a little paste wax. Thanks for all your assistance.

Lars Thomas
06-13-2003, 2:21 PM
Marc, I absolutely love hand built hand tools (almost an oxymoron, isn't it). Your's looks great. Low pixel count or not, I can tell you did a good job. Care to share any hints you may have learned cutting the tennons?

I just got my plan from Dave earlier this week (Thanks Dave!). I am anxious to get started. But a few projects are 'in the way'.

John Schreiber
06-13-2003, 3:41 PM
Marc, Your bowsaw picture is now wallpaper on my PC at work. It really makes me want to make one.

Marc Hills
06-13-2003, 10:20 PM
If you find any, send it my way. But thank you for the kind words and encouragement, everyone. This forum is a salve to a new woodworker's fragile ego.

Lars, if I do it again (and Dave Anderson thinks I should), here are a few things I'll pay attention to:

If you look closely at the picture, you can see that the convex tenon shoulders on the ends of the stretcher don't quite fit perfectly with the concave mortise shoulders on the uprights. Any slop in there could affect the alignment and rigidity of the saw. Mine seems to stiffen up nicely when I tension the blade, but it's something to watch for. Make the tenons and convex surfaces first, and then cut the mortise and concave shoulders with a slightly smaller radius. Then sneak up on a good tight fit with a round or half round file.

I made the circular, raised relief elements at each end of the stretcher using a chisel *VERY* carefully. A carving tool would have been a whole lot easier. I found a bastard file good for cleaning up the rough cut circles though.

Don't spend a lot of effort smoothing and finishing the areas where the wooden handles contact the upright arms. I didn't give it much thought at the time, but found I had to later rough up that area a bit to keep the blade from rotating when using the saw. You need some friction in there to keep things aligned.

Finally, if you stick to the plan dimensions, I definitely recommend getting the three blade set of 12" blades (something like 12, 18 and 24 tpi) from Dieffenbacher tools. They appear to be exactly the same set that Dave Anderson recommended I order from Garrett Wade, except Dieffenbacher has them on clearance for about $10 less and their shipping is a bit less to boot. My order arrived within 5 business days and was very well packaged.

Fairs fair, Lars. If you build it, we expect to see pics.

Lars Thomas
06-14-2003, 4:25 PM
Marc, thanks for the pointers. I've printed your message and put it with Dave's plan. Not to worry Marc I AM going to make one, but it'll be some months out. Unless I sneak it in between other projects. I have a beautiful old chunk of birds eye maple that I think will be perfect for the project. Lars