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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Dovetail Saw - Winsor Kit Build

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.

 

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Well, I'm hooked! After trying my second set of handcut DT's, I have realized that I want/need an saw. After seeing the prices, I am very curious about this. Can't wait to see this play out.
 

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I'm with Fabian...

I'm watching too. -Had no idea they made kits, and I'm sure to follow your example.

So...

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quick update, only had about an hour in the shop last night. Time to cut the slot for the brass back. I started by fitting the brass back onto the blade and setting the blade in its cut to mark the edges of brass back for the cut. Used a marking knife as a landing area for chisels later.



The brass was 3/16” wide so I used a brad point bit of the same size to hog some material out



After a lot of chisel work and sever test fits, slot is complete.



Blade and brass back fit nicely.





I went to get started drilling the holes for the bolts. Come to find out the diameter of the bolt head is 7/16” not ½” like I originally suspected (by eye – at least I measured before I did anything…). Unfortunately I don’t have a 7/16 brad or forstner bit. All I have is a spade and that won’t work for the ‘countersink’. Nothing at local Home Depot so I had to order one – thank god for amazon prime, it should be here in 2 days. Probably start shaping the handle in the meantime….more updates soon.
 

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I pulled up the site but didn't see kits, just parts. Did you put the parts together from that list yourself?

I've been thinking about getting a sash saw kit from TFWW for a while. I'm part way through making a LV wooden spokeshave from a kit, and it is lots of fun, and a far different challenge from making boxes or furniture. I was surprised with how many tools I had scattered across my bench trying to make a tool...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Pricing depends on what you want, in talking with Robert @ Windsor it sounded like he could accommodate just about anything you'd like, dovetail/carcass/tenon, sharpened & set or not, different blade lengths.

Contact him through his site www.winsorsaw.com with what you have in mind. It seems like he makes things to order so lead time may vary. But I found the price very reasonable and worth the effort to build on your own.

This is the first saw build I've ever done so take everything I say with a grain of salt. :)
 

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I am going to be watching this one. Very good, detailed post. Can't wait to the the project come along.
 

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This is awesome Ben! Thanks for posting. As with others, I'm very interested in how this goes together and thinking about making one myself some day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Made a little more progress tonight and things are really starting to take shape.

Started by trimming to final dimensions on the bandsaw



From there I cleaned up the flat surfaces with chisels and a flat file, still have more work there. Then the fun really began...I broke out my microplanes and started into shaping the handle. This was an iterative process of filing and testing for feel and fit. This was a really enjoyable hour in the shop, watching a big blocky handle transform into a nicely curved comfortable warm piece of wood, makes the effort worth it. One of the benefits of making your own is you can fit it to your hand. It ended intentionally asymmetrical, but it's a perfect fit to the shape of my hand (probably very uncomfortable if a lefty wanted to use it, as I hogged out some extra material where my thumb wraps around.







Still a lot of smoothing and sanding to go but it's starting to look like the real thing!



 

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That is coming along nicely and is going to be a beautiful tool when you're done. Thanks for sharing with us!
 

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Nice. Real nice.

I would no doubt contour any handle to my hand as well.

On another note, the workbench (and vise) in the background sure looks handsome from what one can see of it in the pics. Care to share a few details about it (pics, etc.)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Nice. Real nice.

I would no doubt contour any handle to my hand as well.

On another note, the workbench (and vise) in the background sure looks handsome from what one can see of it in the pics. Care to share a few details about it (pics, etc.)?
Thanks! I wish I could say I built it but I found it on Craigslist for an absolute steal. A photographer had bought it as a prop for some high end tools he was shooting so it was basically brand new when I bought it, as he had never used it as an actual workbench. Picked it up for $200 which is less than the materials cost to build it.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I was chatting with Robert at Winsor and he put my project up on his blog:

http://winsorsaw.wordpress.com/

Sweet!

As for kit prices, mine was $52 shipped, that included the sharpened and set blade, brass back and two brass split nut bolts. The lumber was part of a larger piece, but if you consider the BF price, I have $3 worth of wood in the handle - so the total cost will be $55 plus some quality time in the shop :) That is assuming you don't count the $6 for a 7/16" forstner bit....

Also, I'm happy to share my handle pattern with anyone wanting to build a kit, just PM me with your email address and I'll send you a PDF.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
My 7/16" Forstner bit arrived so it's time to drill holes for the bolts. This is actually a fairly involved process, not difficult but lots of steps, so I took a lot of pictures...

First up, I squared up my drill press table, it was slightly off, but it's always good to check before you start any precision work. Start with pilot holes all the way through the handle, use a tiny bit, this hole is only to guide future cuts.



Next I chucked up the 7/16" forstner bit (a brad point would work here also, anything that will give a flat bottom hole). This is used to cut the countersink on both holes, both sides. I kept the brass bolt handy and checked for depth frequently. I went very slow here, easy to take off material, not easy to put it back if you go to far.





Finally, using an 11/64" bit I cut the last 2 hole all the way through. The pilot hole kept everything nicely lined up and centered.





Next step was to chop out the....i don't know what it's called. The thing the keeps the bolt from spinning.... It's 1/4" square so a freshly sharpened 1/4" chisel will do the job. I worked slowly here, careful to get side as square and centered as possible.





I left the bolt slightly proud here, it will be sanded flush later, better high than low.



A little better detail on the cuts.

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
More Shaping

For the top of the cheeks I wanted a chamfer that was rounded on the handle end, so I used a small round microplane to shape the rear rounding I wanted, basically by eye but making sure to leave some material at the top of the cheeks so it didn’t come to a point where it meets the brass back, about 1/8” of flat.





From there I chiseled the chamfer with paring strokes – needed sharp tools for this, maple is pretty but it’s hard (TWSS)





I finished off the night with some more smoothing on the back of the handle, used a round/flat bastard file to smooth what was left behind by the microplane. Some sanding should finish it off.



Here’s a trick I picked up looking through Roberts blog at Windsor that was a big help. Using a wood screw clamp in the vice raises the work piece up where it’s easy to file and sand, and the angled jaws allow for better angles with the files etc.



That’s all for now…
 
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