As my interest continues to grow in hand tools I started to feel the ‘need’ for some good hand saws. I started doing my research and found that all the quality saws (ones that looked good too) were $125-$250+ dollars. Veritas makes a fine dovetail saw for about $70 but I was drawn to the more traditional look of brass backs and ornate handles.
Because of the high price of entry, I decided to look for a kit. It figured would be a fun learning experience to shape the handle and what better way to get a custom saw, maybe even an heirloom piece I could build myself.
I came across Winsor Saw (winsorsaw.com) and saw that they offered a kit. There wasn’t a lot of info on these saws, but the feedback I could find was all positive. I contacted them and Robert was very helpful selecting a kit. A short time later a sharpened blade, brass back and two brass split nut bolts arrived along with the pattern Robert used to shape his handles. Well packed and in good shape. I felt the cost was reasonable, between the kit and the lumber, I will be well under the cost of a new Veritas dovetail saw. (the brass does have a little tarnish from the engraving, but it buffed right out)
From the beginning I knew I wanted to make a saw handle that was truely my own, I have large hands and wanted a perfect fit. I took a scan of Roberts template and began to tweak it to fit what I thought I would like in a handle. I also borrowed some design elements from other handle patterns I found online. I steepened the attack angle slightly, and tweaked the profile of the handle back. I also added an M flourish to the top, as my last name starts with M.
I found a nice piece of curly maple that will become the handle.
I think the general consensus for thickness is about 7/8” for a saw handle, I milled the maple stock to a 15/16” thinking I would loose some to sanding, and a slightly fat handle would suit my large hands.
I printed my pattern to scale and used a light coat of adhesive to attach it to the wood, being sure to align the grain direction for strength in the handle.
Trimmed some excess and holes drilled to shape handle with a variety of forstner buts, waiting on drilling the blade holes for now.
The next step was to cut the slot to accept the blade. The blade plate for the Windsor saw was 0.02” stock, and I found the only saw I had with a thin enough kerf was a cheap shark pull saw. I’ve seen a procedure where you use the sharpened blade blank to cut its own slot, but the set of these blades would yield a kerf wider than the blade plate, which in my mind would result in a sloppy fit. So I proceeded with the pull saw.
I trimmed the cheeks back within 1/32 of their final dimension and I used a marking gauge to mark the center around the entire cut, marking from both sides to make sure I was exactly centered. And yes, blood has already been shed for this project.
I used a square beside the saw as a reference to keep me plum, and proceeded slowly cutting the groove.
Try out a test fit and I’m in good shape, blade fits snugly and sighting down the handle shows it’s straight – I’m relieved!
Trimmed some more off the handle and call it a night.