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  1. #1
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    Default Neat backsaw handle.

    Having the saw plate, brass back, and other parts to make at least another dozen backsaws, I came across this open handle design that I plan to replicate.

    Doing a search through Simon Bailey's book British Saws and Sawmakers from circa 1660, the maker of this saw could be BROOKES Brothers (1862) or William BROOKES (1841 - 1871).

    The original photo will need to be resized to accomodate 3 handle sizes Small; Medium; and Large. Dovetail and Carcass Saws.

    I have some sweet looking dark Tas.Tiger Myrtle & figured Queensland Maple as 2 species of timber for the handle wood.

    regards; Stewie;
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  3. #2
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    That's a slim little number of a handle, Stewie. I really like the shape of the "birdmouth" on the bottom of the grip, very elegant, I reckon.

    Just a heads-up on the Qld Maple. I used some for a handle and found that sweat/grime got into its large pores and made it look rather yukky after a bit. It only had a very light coat of shellac-based finish, so maybe a penetrating finish that fills the pores will prevent that happening. It's one of my favourite furniture woods, I love working with the stuff....

    Cheers,
    IW

  4. #3
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    Default Open Handle hang angles.

    The following example shows the difference in hang angles on open handle backsaws.

    regards Stewie;
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  5. #4
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    It's a rather variable feast, isn't it?

    You can expound endlessly on this subject & come up with theoretical reasons why handles should have particular hang angles for particular tasks. When I first discovered what different angles did to the comfort & accuracy of sawing for me, I thought I'd discovered one of life's big truths, but I've since come round to thinking it's more a matter of preference and/or what you get used to. My own preference is for the steeper angles (~50 deg on your chart) for a dovetail or tenon saw, but some folks like the higher (~30 deg) angle when I give them a choice. If they find the handle comfortable to use & can saw straight with it, who's to argue?

    Variety is the spice of life they say...

    Cheers,
    IW

  6. #5
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    The handle itself seem a bit out of the proportiions for a hand. It is very wide but thin. If I would hold it, my middlefinger would touch my palm more than I like.

    The hang angle can't be decided without regarding the rake of the teeth, the thickness of the blade and the weight of the spine.

  7. #6
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    delelted, double post

  8. #7
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    Pedder, to me, that handle has nice lines, but it looks a bit skinny for my taste, too. However, there seems to be plenty of folks who like them that way. The Gramercy D/T saw not only has a similarly thin grip, it's set at way too high an angle to suit my style of cutting dovetails. However, they have lots of dedicated fans who say they're the bees knees.

    Like I said before, you can make all sorts of analyses of the mechanics of sawing & come up with all sorts of reasons why things should be a particular way, but in the end, people just have their own idea of what's right for them. I suspect it has ever been thus......

    Cheers,
    IW

  9. #8
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    Issac,
    Of Blackburn tools has a good article on hang angles.

    Cheers Matt.

    Concerning hang angles and saw handles | Blackburn Tools

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplicity View Post
    Issac,
    Of Blackburn tools has a good article on hang angles.

    Cheers Matt.

    Concerning hang angles and saw handles | Blackburn Tools
    Matt

    That link is to a good article and I found myself wondering why I had not paid more attention to these aspects myself. Then I answered my own question when I realised that most of the handles I have made are copies of something already in existence, but that only covers the timber work. However, the relationship of teeth to hang angle is interesting and I will be paying more attention to that in the future. It seems to me that the hang angle will be dependent on the height at which you will be working (particularly important for back saws where their main use will be for bench work) and tooth angle will benefit from a more relaxed rake as the hang angle increases.

    An aspect that was not discussed in the first article linked is the effect of saw weight (primarily from the brass or steel back). I was interested to see that the hang angle on the diminutive Pattern Maker's saw, which has absolutely neglible weight of it's own has a very high hang angle. The implication is that you have to add downward force to compensate. The opposite to this are the larger back saws or even the mitre saws which require very little downwards force as they have ample weight by themselves.

    One anomaly that comes to mind is the "Gents" saw with what I would suggest is a 90 hang angle which defies all the foregoing.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  11. #10
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    Default Handle changes

    Started playing around with some changes to the original handle design. (shown left)

    The changes include reducing the total length of the grip; plus adding some additional thickness on the inside profile of the grip back to the neck of the handle.

    I plane to reduce to the stock depth of the hardback from 3/4" down to 1/2". That will allow the saw bolts to remain in their current location.

    The depth of the saw plate below the hardback will be 2 1/2 inches..

    The length of saw plate will likely be 10" for the dt, and 12' carcass.

    regards Stewie;
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  12. #11
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    Stewie

    The British saw makers appeared to really like massive brass backs. I have the dimensions of the Kenyon saws, for example, and they were far bigger than those of their American counterparts from the 19th century. I have also observed (casual glancing really) that early open handled British saws from the first half of the 19th century had slimmer dimensions than those of the latter half. I think the visual balance benefits from just a little more meat and presumably there is more strength too. I don't know if this benefit is real as the backsaw is not generally subjected to the same level of abuse as hand saw. Having said that, it can still fall or be knocked off the bench.

    I think in your initial post you mentioned three sizes of handle: Not all woodworker's hands are created the same (besides left and right)?

    Regards
    Paul

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  13. #12
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    Paul, in my opinion (& I'm quite prepared to be shouted down) the relationship between grip angle & rake angle is very tenuous, and any effect of a more aggressive tooth angle for a given grip angle can be swamped by other factors, especially sharpness. A sharp saw with a relaxed rake will feel more aggressive than a dull saw with a higher rake angle; soft woods allow the saw to bite harder at any rake angle, & so on. I think we are getting into very esoteric territory adjusting grip angle for specific tooth rakes!

    To me, the most noticeable effect of grip angle is on comfort in sawing, having your wrist twisted up or down in an attempt to keep the tooth line horizontal, as we often want it to be, can be uncomfortable & makes control of the saw less intuitive. We all use saws in odd situations at times, and manage it, but for accurate sawing, having the work & my body in a comfortable position that minimises physical effort helps a lot (I like to minimise expenditure of effort! ).

    Spine/back weights are as variable a feast as grip angles. Again, I think it's pure preference & what you get used to. You could over-think this too, & work out what cross-sections of steel or brass provide x amount of stiffness for a given length of blade & then decide on what minimum stiffness is required (a decision which is likely to be quite arbitrary). Then you decide what weight is optimal to give just the right 'bite' for a given rake angle, which again would be an arbitrary decision due to the difference in sawyer technique, woods sawn, etc. Which would achieve precisely what? Just about every person I watch using one of my saws puts too much pressure on it regardless of spine weight. We all add a bit, despite what we may think, but there is a sweet spot that allows the saw to cut freely & quickly, which comes with experience & practice. My favourite D/T saw has a light 3/16" thick spine, which I find just right, but I make some saws with 1/4" spines. I've noticed the majority of people, when given the choice, go for the slightly heavier saw. This surprises me because I find the lighter saw so much easier to control as I flip it right & left cutting tails, but the customer pays their money & makes their choice.

    You could argue that a heavy spine on a mitre saw does help with holding it vertical - the heavy weight makes it more easily felt if the saw leans to left or right, but I think spine weights are also arbitrary and not based on any exhaustive empirical study. The difference in average spine weights between Britain & the U.S. supports my contention that it has much to do with tradition & perhaps the cost of metal in the days before the colony produced its own on a large scale....

    Cheers,
    IW

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanW View Post
    Paul, in my opinion (& I'm quite prepared to be shouted down) the relationship between grip angle & rake angle is very tenuous, and any effect of a more aggressive tooth angle for a given grip angle can be swamped by other factors, especially sharpness. A sharp saw with a relaxed rake will feel more aggressive than a dull saw with a higher rake angle; soft woods allow the saw to bite harder at any rake angle, & so on. I think we are getting into very esoteric territory adjusting grip angle for specific tooth rakes!


    To me, the most noticeable effect of grip angle is on comfort in sawing, having your wrist twisted up or down in an attempt to keep the tooth line horizontal, as we often want it to be, can be uncomfortable & makes control of the saw less intuitive. We all use saws in odd situations at times, and manage it, but for accurate sawing, having the work & my body in a comfortable position that minimises physical effort helps a lot (I like to minimise expenditure of effort! ).

    Spine/back weights are as variable a feast as grip angles. Again, I think it's pure preference & what you get used to. You could over-think this too, & work out what cross-sections of steel or brass provide x amount of stiffness for a given length of blade & then decide on what minimum stiffness is required (a decision which is likely to be quite arbitrary). Then you decide what weight is optimal to give just the right 'bite' for a given rake angle, which again would be an arbitrary decision due to the difference in sawyer technique, woods sawn, etc. Which would achieve precisely what? Just about every person I watch using one of my saws puts too much pressure on it regardless of spine weight. We all add a bit, despite what we may think, but there is a sweet spot that allows the saw to cut freely & quickly, which comes with experience & practice. My favourite D/T saw has a light 3/16" thick spine, which I find just right, but I make some saws with 1/4" spines. I've noticed the majority of people, when given the choice, go for the slightly heavier saw. This surprises me because I find the lighter saw so much easier to control as I flip it right & left cutting tails, but the customer pays their money & makes their choice.

    You could argue that a heavy spine on a mitre saw does help with holding it vertical - the heavy weight makes it more easily felt if the saw leans to left or right, but I think spine weights are also arbitrary and not based on any exhaustive empirical study. The difference in average spine weights between Britain & the U.S. supports my contention that it has much to do with tradition & perhaps the cost of metal in the days before the colony produced its own on a large scale....

    Cheers,
    Ian

    There are so many variables, but in regard to sharpness I think we have to assume that the teeth whatever their rake, fleam and set are at least at the same level. Again with the timber we should be comparing apples and apples, not apples and oranges. In general terms larger teeth with more set suit soft woods more than hardwoods, but we are getting into nitty gritty here as opposed to broad principles. We could end up having a multitude of saws for each specific sawing requirement: Not that I am particularly opposed to such a situation .

    When I spoke of hang angles I had in mind the type of sawing that was being undertaken and specifically the height at which we wish to work. This is going to vary for each person and in some regards dictates why we prefer a particular saw compared to another person.

    Although, I have a number of saws, my back saws are less numerous so I have less of a selection to point to. The backs on American saws are mainly made from steel and light compared to the British saws. In addition, the British saws mainly had brass. I also noticed in the Simonds brand that as the years progressed the backs became lighter again and this was over only a relatively short period between 1900 and 1926. I stress that all these comments are my subjective comment and very broad generalisations. I am sure there are plenty of exceptions.

    Having said that,

    I found about five 12" saws from both the UK and the States and being comparable I decided to see how they measured up:

    First up is the groupie. The two on the right are my everyday (well not every day) users, but the others are off the rack waiting for restoration and re-sale.

    P1070612 (Medium).JPG


    The British saws:

    The first is a "Kenyon," but a replica of one of the saws in the Seaton tool chest from 1797. Brass back 21mm x 6mm. Weight 541g. Hang angle 40

    P1070613 (Medium).JPG


    G & T Gray. Brass back 21mm x 8mm.Weight 563g. Hang angle 34

    P1070616 (Medium).JPG


    Beardshaw. Steel back 21mm x 8mm. Weight 553g. Hang angle 29

    P1070617 (Medium).JPG

    And the American saws:

    Simonds No.97. 1905 - 1922. Steel back 20mm x 6mm. Weight 495g. Hang angle 34

    P1070614 (Medium).JPG


    Bay State No.98 1900 - 1926 (made by Simonds). Steel back 21mm x 6mm, Weight 362g. Hang angle 33

    P1070615 (Medium).JPG


    I did measure another two American saws as follows:

    Bay State No.98. (Simonds) Hang angle 32
    Babbitt (Simonds). Hang angle 34


    As Stewie is looking at open handle saws, I thought it was worth comparing the Kenyon and the Beardshaw in pictures .

    P1070618 (Medium).JPG P1070619 (Medium).JPG P1070620 (Medium).JPG

    The difference in hang angle is not really apparent in the pix and this led me to question whether I was measuring correctly. In the Blackburn article Matt referenced, Issac showed the 19" back saw from the Seaton Tool Chest and as I have a replica I measured mine. To my surprise I made it exactly the same at 23 so apart from minor discrepancies as to where to measure the handle, my dimensions will not be too far off!

    Kenyon Replica 19 inch.JPG


    None of the foregoing is to say that any saw is actually correct. Really it is just to emphasise what range there is and why one saw might suit better than another. I would add that with mitre saws, as they are intended to be used in a mitre box their hang angle is low as there is little need for any additional downwards force. A typical size was 26", but 18" through to 32" was available and they had considerable weight by themselves. They can be used freehand but are cumbersome. The largest backsaws were around 18" (despite the 19" version pictured above ), which is where the mitre saws pick up.

    Regards
    Paul
    Last edited by Bushmiller; 10th June 2021 at 07:14 PM. Reason: Pix did not load
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  15. #14
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    Default Hang angles

    Paul; appreciate the additional detail on the specific angles on your backsaws.

    Pete Taran would be no stranger to many in the saw making world. The following was his response on another forum site when I posted the image showing a wide range of backsaw hang angles.

    Interesting but should only be considered notionally correct, not precise. Many older saws with split nuts have one broken or loose which can affect that handle angle greatly. No way of knowing what orientation it might be in when the picture was taken. That is, spine fully seated, cocked at front or cocked at rear. In general, the angle over time has relaxed from near vertical to similar to what is shown in the graphic.

    Additionally, through repeated drops to the floor, even if the handle is tight, the spine is likely driven in at the toe of the saw which will also impact the "angle" since the spine is no longer parallel to the cutting edge. I know many believe that "tapered" blades were a thing, pointing to the saws in the Seaton chest, but in my view, the vast majority are saws that have had a rough life as almost all saws have. I'm not aware of any engravings or etchings which show the tapered arrangement at least in American literature. I know this is contested by some, but for the purposes of this discussion, if the spine is driven at the toe, it will affect the hang angle because that is the x axis and the basis for measurement.

    If both of these are in play, observed angle in a picture is meaningless.

    Yours in saw arcana.
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  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushmiller View Post
    Ian

    There are so many variables.......



    P1070619 (Medium).JPG P1070620 (Medium).JPG

    ....
    Regards
    Paul

    Stewie, as you know, I replied to you on the SMS forum, where I asked if you could label the saws with their hang angles.

    But Paul's post here has raised a thought about hang angle in my addled brain: when you look at the two saws above, there is a second factor that influences hang angle. This is the height of the upper horn. Here, the Kenyon is much taller than the Beardshaw. This is going to encourage a higher grip on the handle compared with the Beardshaw. That must affect the centre of effort.

    The Kenyon handle looks too elongated in my opinion. I am speaking (writing) theoretically here, trying to visualise using the saw. In my imagination, my hand will slip down if I do not grip the handle tighter. Now, not only is that going to be more fatiguing, but it will affect the way the teeth cut wood (we generally want to hold the saw as lightly as possible.

    There are two handle shapes which I know of that encourage a light grip. The first is the Gramercy Dovetail Saw ...



    The handle is quite skinny and the hang is higher. See here against an IT, LN and Wenzloff ...





    The thin handle of the Gramercy forces one to hold it lightly.

    The other saw handle design is one I have used on a few backsaws. I took inspiration from woodies, where the handle increases in thickness at the lower end. This forces the hand upwards and under the upper horn. It is (in my experience) a terrific handle. I am soon to build another dovetail saw, this time with a thin plate, and will again use this design ...



    Here with a carcass saw - same design ...



    Thoughts?

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

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