Building a small frame saw

frame saw parts

Frame Saw Bones

I have a great rip saw. It is an old Disston that has been re-sharpened almost out of existence. But it has the cool tote with the hole for my index finger, it feels good in my hands and cuts like crazy. However, there are jobs that are better done with other types of saws. I had seen these big frame saws on the internet and I thought they looked pretty handy for resawing and since I do not have a bandsaw I thought I would try building a small one. I have 3 blades that were designed for conventional frame (bow) saws that are about 24″ long so I thought I would start with building a frame saw to fit one of those. My thought is that if is works well I may get a kit from Blackburn tools and build a bigger one someday.

my benches

Dimensioning the frame saw parts

Getting Started

Since this was a bit of an experiment I just used a bit of reclaimed pine. So step one was squaring up the stock. A frame saw is a really simple object held together entirely by the tension on the blade. The main challenge is doing your joinery very accurately so that the frame stays straight and square under tension. So it is very important to have straight square and dry stock to start with.

frame saw parts

Frame Saw Bones

The bones of this project is made up of just four pieces of wood connected by four mortise and tenon joints. I would recommend doing all the joinery while the pieces are still square. This helps a ton while trying to cut the mortises and tenons.
The biggest trick in making this saw was developing a system of holding the blade straight without making changing the blade a complete pain. I finally settled on a very simple system of blocks and a pair of L shaped bolts to tighten the blade and pull the whole assembly together.
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Finishing up

Once these blocks were fitted it was a simple matter of shaping the side rails with some simple chamfers and rounding over the handles.
The biggest challenge it turned out was learning to use this saw accurately. It is a very different prospect ripping with a frame saw when you are used to a conventional western rip saw. But with a bit of trial and error and a some practice this is now my favorite way to resaw stock that is 3″ – 6″ wide.

Finished Saw

The finished saw.

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