Upcoming Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events® – Philadelphia, PA

Early this Saturday morning, the saw elves and I will pack up and head east for this weekend’s Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event®, which is being hosted by the Independence Seaport Museum (the event is located in the Boat Shop). We have never been there, and are really looking forward to seeing an aspect of woodworking that is new to us.

Although the event will be held on both Friday and Saturday, I will only be in attendance on Saturday.

 

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Philadelphia, PA

Friday & Saturday, January 29-30

10:00 – 6:00 (Friday), 10:00 – 5:00 (Saturday)

Independence Seaport Museum – Boat Shop

211 South Christopher Columbus Blvd.

Philadelphia, PA 19106

Remember, the admission to these events is free, and you will have a chance to play with a lot of beautiful tools, as well as talk to other people who share your passion for them. Hope to see a few of you there!

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Upcoming Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Brooklyn, NY

This is the first LN Hand Tool Event of 2016, and looks to be a good way to start the New Year off. This event is hosted by The Community Woodshop, an organization that rents workshop space and offers woodworking classes. I only wish they had been around when I lived there.

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Brooklyn, NY

Friday & Saturday, January 8-9

10:00 – 6:00 (Friday), 10:00 – 5:00 (Saturday)

The Community Woodshop

643 Classon Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Onsite parking is available.

Remember, the admission to this event is free, and you will have a chance to play with a lot of beautiful tools, as well as talk to other people who share your passion for them. Hope to see a few of you there!

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Petite Roubo frame saw blades and kits now available

Time saving summary: Small Roubo frame saw blades and hardware kits are now available. These new 27″ and 32″ versions complement the capabilities of the original 36″ and 48″ versions. Blades and hardware are available separately, or as a complete kit (if you have visited these pages in the past, you may need to refresh them to see the new versions).  -Ed.

When demonstrating my Roubo frame saws at shows, there are several common reactions and comments. “That’s why they make bandsaws” is a frequent disparagement, usually uttered by older men wearing a plaid shirt and suspenders. If I ask them how much it would cost to set up a bandsaw to resaw a 14″ or 16″ board, the snarky smile usually fades.

Another common reaction is one of shock at the size of my largest version of this saw (with a 48″ long blade, this one most closely resembles the saw described by Roubo). While proper technique turns this size into an asset in most situations, it is also a deal killer for many. And while I have always offered a 36″ version as an alternative, the fact remains that there is a niche for even more diminutive saws that can be used in tighter spaces and on smaller work.

With this in mind, I have designed and am now selling blades and hardware for two smaller versions of my Roubo frame saws. These new kits are available with 27″ and 32″ blades (up to now, 36″ and 48″ blades were the only options). These smaller blades are paired with a scaled down version of the full size hardware. Details for the new (and old) blades and hardware are summarized in the tables below.

Roubo blade specifications.

Roubo blade specifications.

Roubo blade and hardware compatibility.

Roubo blade and hardware compatibility.

Posted in Announcements | 3 Comments

Suspension of new backsaw orders

The last two years have been tumultuous ones, both personally and professionally. As my product line, and demand for it, has grown, so has my backlog for completed backsaws. As of this writing, the lead time for those backsaws has ballooned to over two years. While this provides a certain sense of security, it has also locked me into a schedule that prevents further development of my new tools.

After much reflection and deliberation, it is with no small measure of regret and trepidation that I have decided to suspend orders for completed backsaws. This suspension applies only to completed backsaws; all other orders will be taken and filled as before. All outstanding backsaw orders will be filled.

As I work through the existing backlog, expect to see an expansion of my product lines as I free up more time to devote to developing new tools. When the backlog is cleared, I will continue working on backsaws, albeit on a more limited basis. Future endeavors will most likely take the form of spec saws; I have many designs, embellishments, and details waiting to be brought to life, but which I cannot work on while maintaining an active ordering system for custom backsaws.

Again, I am not getting out of tool and sawmaking. I have not stopped taking or fulfilling orders for backsaw parts and kits, Roubo frame saw kits, or any of my other tools. Rather, this decision reflects the increased demand for all of these tools.

I would also like to thank all of my loyal readers and customers for their understanding, encouragement, and patronage over the last several years. Many an email or comment has made me pause and think to myself that I have some of the best customers in the world; it is only natural and right to take a moment here to publicly acknowledge the role that your support has played in keeping this venture going. It has truly been a pleasure to talk with and meet many of you, and I look forward to many more years of doing so.

Posted in Announcements | 4 Comments

Upcoming Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Bridgewater, VT

This is my last LN Hand Tool Event of 2015, and is one I am really looking forward to. I love New England, fall and winter, and woodworking and its associated tools. This has all of those. This event is hosted by Shackleton Thomas, a furniture and pottery making company sited in a 180 year old mill.

 

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Bridgewater, VT

Friday & Saturday, November 13-14

10:00 – 6:00 (Friday), 10:00 – 5:00 (Saturday)

ShackletonThomas Furniture

102 Mill Road, The Bridgewater Mill

Bridgewater, VT 05034

Remember, the admission to this event is free, and you will have a chance to play with a lot of beautiful tools, as well as talk to other people who share your passion for them. Hope to see a few of you there!

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Backsaw parts now available at Dieter Schmid Fine Tools

This is a big day here at Blackburn Tools headquarters. While I have always sold and shipped internationally (20 countries on 4 continents, and counting), I am acutely aware of the high cost of international shipping. Even for small and light items, shipping charges can approach or exceed the purchase cost. With this in mind, I am happy to announce that, as of today, Dieter Schmid Fine Tools will carry a limited range of my backsaw parts and split nut spanners.

If you are an aspiring saw-builder in Europe that considered buying some of my parts, but balked at the high cost of overseas shipping, take another look. I think you’ll like what you see.

Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments

Saw sharpening series – Saw vises, Part II

This is the second entry in a saw sharpening serial. To ensure you don’t miss any future posts, you can subscribe to this blog by submitting your email address in the box to the right. You can also find related posts by searching this blog for “saw sharpening series”, or by visiting the full chronological index.

The series will be as comprehensive as possible without making it too tedious or dense for the writer or reader. Should the author belabor a point, it is because we believe it too important to leave unsaid or to chance. -Ed.

A brief look at manufactured saw vises, being the second part in a saw sharpening serial.

In the previous installment, we looked at the main criteria to consider when selecting a saw vise. In this installment, we will look at a few manufactured saw vises and briefly consider their qualities, both good and bad.

For our purposes, we will divide saw vises into two broad categories: manufactured and shop made. Almost invariably, manufactured vises are made from metal (usually cast iron), while shop made ones use wooden bodies. Over the last century and a half, dozens or hundreds of saw vise designs were patented or manufactured. How, then, does one go about selecting a vise suitable for its intended use?

If necessary, review the qualities of a good saw vise, then identify the saws that you will use the vise for. The larger the teeth you are filing, the more solid the vise needs to be. The force needed to file a 16 ppi dovetail saw is far less than that needed for a 4 ppi rip saw. While there are many vises that will work well for the former, the universe of acceptable vises for the latter is far smaller.

Unless you are filing teeth with sloped gullets, there is little need for a vise that pivots. Although it is a seductive feature, it is, in fact, often detrimental to the function of a vise since the pivoting mechanism introduces a point of rotation that almost inevitably reduces rigidity. The further this point of rotation is from the jaws, the worse this problem will be.

When you find a good candidate, examine it closely. Cracked or broken castings are usually, but not always, something to walk away from.

Check for wear on the moving parts, or the parts which they move against. The clamping mechanisms are particularly susceptible to wear over time. Dry cast iron on cast iron is bound to wear, and the inevitable contamination with stray saw filings only accelerates the process. In many cases, the cast iron becomes so worn that it is no longer capable of clamping a saw tightly. In some cases, this damage can be repaired or compensated for (the entry for the Disston 3D saw vise below has an example of this). Whether you find a good one or make repairs, it is prudent to prevent further wear by keeping the area free of filings and regularly lubricated with a dry lubricant (graphite, wax, etc.). Do not use grease or oil, as they will hold onto contaminants and exacerbate wear.

Many old saw vises had accomodations for leather or rubber jaw liners. These liners improved the grip of the vise, and reduced noise and vibration while filing. These liners are invariably missing or dried out. There are several possible replacements for these, including leather strips or laces and rubber window screen spline. Alternatively, you can stick a layer or two of painter’s masking tape on the saw blade just above the gullets.

Closeup of the dovetailed recess for a rubber insert in a Wentworth saw vise.

Closeup of the dovetailed recess for a rubber insert in a Wentworth saw vise.

 

One final thing to consider when looking for and setting up your saw vise: height matters. Whether you sit or stand when filing, it is important not to have the saw teeth too high or low. Having your saw at the proper height (your forearm should be horizontal when filing) encourages proper technique and maximizes both comfort and control.

…the vise jaws should be placed so as to be level with the elbow of the workman…This position enables the workman to get the full, free swing of his arm from the shoulder; the separate movement of the wrist and elbow should be done away as much as possible.

-File Filosophy, Eleventh Ed., 1920, pp. 17-18

I have seen many people raise the saw up high in an attempt to see the teeth better, but it is better to address that issue with proper lighting or magnification.

Now, on to some real examples and pictures. The saw vises below are some of the more commonly found vises, and represent a variety of the better and most commonly found designs. Using a little common sense and the examples below as a framework, most other vises can be readily evaluated.

 

Disston No. 3D (sometimes called D3) saw vise

This is one of the better old saw vises made. For the most part, they make solid users, but there are some things to watch out for.

Front view of Disston 3D (sometimes called D3) saw vise.

Front view of Disston 3D (sometimes called D3) saw vise.

Back side of Disston 3D (sometimes called D3) saw vise.

Back side of Disston 3D (sometimes called D3) saw vise.

Back view of Disston 3D (sometimes called D3) saw vise. The pivoting mechanism is clearly visible in this view.

Back view of Disston 3D (sometimes called D3) saw vise. The pivoting mechanism is clearly visible in this view.

 

Besides checking for cracks, look for wear under the cam at the end of the handle. Often there is a divot worn there. This divot can be repaired with a bit of epoxy and a strip of steel banding or strapping or old saw plate to act as a wear strip, but this should be taken into account before the vise is purchased.

Divot worn into Disston 3D saw vise from years of dry use. The deeper the divot, the less clamping force there is.

Divot worn into Disston 3D saw vise from years of dry use. The deeper the divot, the less clamping force there is.

Fix for divot in Disston 3D saw vise. A strip of steel banding works well for this repair.

Fix for divot in Disston 3D saw vise. A strip of steel banding works well for this repair.

Marv's repair of the divot in one of his Disston 3D saw vises.

Marv’s repair of the divot in one of his Disston 3D saw vises.

After the repair shown above, Marv added a bit of foam and metal to keep saw filings from getting down in the cam and wearing it further.

After the repair shown above, Marv added a bit of foam and metal to keep saw filings from getting down in the cam and wearing it further.

 

Perhaps the weakest point on this vise is the C-clamp. Its small size does not afford a very solid grip on the bench top, and makes it prone to moving about when filing. Fortunately, there is at least one workaround for this, which is fairly easy to do.

By removing the C-clamp and replacing it with a piece or two of angle iron, this saw vise is vastly improved. With this modification, you lose the ability to tilt the saw vise, but unless you are filing sloped gullets, that is of little consequence. Below are three examples of this modification, the first being a vise that I own, and the last two courtesy of Marv Werner, a highly respected saw filer working out of California.

Disston 3D saw vise bracket, front view.

Disston 3D saw vise bracket, front view.

Disston 3D saw vise bracket, rear  view.

Disston 3D saw vise bracket, rear
view.

Disston 3D saw vise bracket.

Disston 3D saw vise bracket.

One of Marv's Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, side view.

One of Marv’s Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, side view.

One of Marv's Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, back view.

One of Marv’s Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, back view.

Another one of Marv's Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, side view.

Another one of Marv’s Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, side view.

Another one of Marv's Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, side view.

Another one of Marv’s Disston D3 vise mounting modifications, side view.

 

 

Disston No. 1 adjustable ball and socket saw vise

This vise’s most prominent feature is the ball and socket, which Disston proudly proclaimed allows a saw to be “held straight or at any angle, the operator may desire” (Henry Disston & Sons catalog, 1914). While this adjustability is a useful feature when filing sloped gullets, it should not be surprising that this versatility comes with a rather steep price; even with a coat of friction-enhancing rust, the ball and socket introduces a rather annoying degree of rotation and flexibility when filing any but the smallest of teeth.

As with the Disston 3D, the C-clamp base is a weak point. Unlike the 3D vise, there is no easy workaround for this one.

As a general rule, I do not care much for this type of vise. Unless you like to file sloped gullets, or are sharpening small teeth exclusively, you are better off looking for another vise.

Disston No. 1 adjustable saw vise, front view.

Disston No. 1 adjustable saw vise, front view.

Disston No. 1 adjustable saw vise, side view. Vise is tilted as it would be for filing sloped gullets.

Disston No. 1 adjustable saw vise, side view. Vise is tilted as it would be for filing sloped gullets.

 

 

Stearns No. 33 adjustable saw vise

This vise is similar to the Disston No. 1 shown above. The main difference between the two is the location of the ball and socket joint. In this design, that joint is much nearer the teeth, “preventing the vice from vibrating while the saw is being filed” (E.C. Stearns & Co. 1924 catalog). While this upwards shift of the joint does indeed improve functionality, rigidity is still limited. As with the Disston Nos. 3D and 1, the C-clamp base is a weak point, and is not easily remedied. I still do not recommend this vise for filing larger teeth.

Stearns No. 33 adjustable saw vise, front view.

Stearns No. 33 adjustable saw vise, front view.

Stearns No. 33 adjustable saw vise, rear view. Note the larger pad brazed onto the original, probably in an attempt to make it more stable.

Stearns No. 33 adjustable saw vise, rear view. Note the larger pad brazed onto the original, probably in an attempt to make it more stable.

 

Wentworth No. 1 or 2 saw vise

This vise differs from the first three in that it is non-adjustable. Because of this, and despite its rather spartan looking design, it is a solid user. It can either be screwed directly to the front of your bench or to a board, and then clamped in a vise. In either case, this vise is about as solid as your bench and/or vise.

Again, check for wear before taking it home. This design has a fair tolerance for wear built into it, but still…

If I had to pick one old vise to use without modification, I would probably choose the No. 2 It has 15″ jaws (compared to 11″ for the No. 1). It’s still not perfect, but its rigidity makes it an attractive vise.

Wentworth No. 1 saw vise, mounted on board.

Wentworth No. 1 saw vise, mounted on board.

Closeup of the cam mechanism on the Wentworth saw vises.

Closeup of the cam mechanism on the Wentworth saw vises.

 

Gramercy saw vise

This vise, to my knowledge, is the only vise that is currently manufactured. It is based on the Wentworth No. 2 vise, and is, by all accounts, an excellent vise. They are sold on Tools for Working Wood’s website.

 

Finally, and mostly for the sake of showing off, here are a few pictures of the best saw vise ever made. It came off of an Acme saw filing machine, weighs in at about fifty pounds, and has jaws that are 28 inches long. They are, however, a bit hard to find, and usually go for a handsome sum when unearthed. If you do run across one, snatch it up quickly.

Acme Hand Saw Filer vise, front view.

Acme Hand Saw Filer vise, front view.

Acme Hand Saw Filer vise.

Acme Hand Saw Filer vise.

 

Coming next – a look at some shopmade, wood-bodied saw vises, with brief discussions of their working qualities.

Posted in Saw filing, Tools of a saw wright | 1 Comment

Beech billets & blanks

My current stock of beech plane billets and saw handle blanks is sold out, and I am now in the process of looking for a log or two to have sawn and dried. As this is a new process for me, I don’t have a good estimate of how long that will take.

If you are interested in some of the next batch, you can subscribe to this blog for updates to availability.

Thanks again to everyone who purchased billets and blanks this time around. If any of you have pictures to share of the completed projects, I’d love to see them. Pictures can be sent to me through email, or shared on Instagram (@blackburntools or #blackburntools).

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Update on saw file availability

Grobet 3-square needle files are back in stock, along with a name change:  Grobet has been rebranded as Glardon. I have been assured that only the name has changed, and that they are still made in the same Swiss factory and to the same quality spceifications.

I have been using the Glardon files for a month or two, and can find no discernible difference between them and the old Grobet files, but will continue to monitor their quality.

Bahco 6″ XX-slim are also back in stock. Their 10″ files are still backordered, but are scheduled to be back in stock at the end of the month.

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Some of my latest saws

The color and grain in this piece of apple were particularly striking.

Smith's Key carcase saw with apple handle.

Smith’s Key carcase saw with apple handle.

A closeup of the Smith's Key handle.

A closeup of the Smith’s Key handle.

Another closeup of the Smith's Key handle.

Another closeup of the Smith’s Key handle.

And another closeup of the Smith's Key handle.

And another closeup of the Smith’s Key handle.

And one final closeup of the Smith's Key handle.

And one final closeup of the Smith’s Key handle.

A matched set of sash saws with apple handles. This set is headed to a fellow left-handed woodworker.

A matched set of sash saws with apple handles. This set is headed to a fellow left-handed woodworker.

 

Posted in Completed saws - gratuitous pictures | Leave a comment