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ajwilson1978's picture

Hello all,

One of my first posts to Knots....

I have been woodworking for almost 3 years now, and I initially rushed out and bought almost every power tool I could get my hands on. Then about a year ago I bought a Lie-Nielsen block plane and a Veritas low-angle smooth plane, as well an Independence dovetail saw and a set of German-made bench chisels. (This was sparked by a visit to Rob Cosman's booth at a Toronto woodshow)

I found I was actually building skills and learning wood as I used my prized hand tools. However, I have had limited success trying to use a bow saw. (The bow saw purchase was from reading "Seven Essentials of Woodworking" by Anthony Guidice...maybe he's on this forum and can answer my question?)

I bought my bow saw from and have practiced a lot with it. My frustration is that as I make a rip cut, the saw starts straight and cuts fast, but as the rip progresses the blade always drifts to one side of my cut line. In my hands it has been impossible to correct this, especially once I'm already into the cut. It's frustrating because I can make straight cuts almost effortlessly with the dovetail saw, but not with my rip 24" bow saw.

I have already searched the Knots forum for answers and found some generic talk about making or buying bow saws, but nothing about actual technique.

Is there no European master lurking on this forum that can help me?

Jimma's picture

(post #98441, reply #1 of 7)

Not sure about the reason for your problem with the bow saw, but I had a dovetail saw that cut to one side and had to file the set off a bit on the side with the problem. (That was before I got an Independence saw.)

hammer1's picture

(post #98441, reply #2 of 7)

It's possible that the teeth on the blade are worn on one side or improperly filed. Hitting a knot or scraping the blade against something metal can dull one side and make it run. When following a line, tip the saw so that it is laying back, not standing straight up. A wider blade is better for ripping than a 1/4" one. There are many different types of blades for bow saws, not all are suited to ripping. I prefer either traditional hand saws or Japanese saws for hand sawing. I save the bow saw for shapes. Keeping the weight of the frame from twisting the blade is difficult, especially if the frame is set on the side.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

ring's picture

(post #98441, reply #3 of 7)

It is my guess that something in the set of the teeth is sending it off track.   Get a new blade and see if the problem is still there.  If this solves the problem, then find someone who can sharpen and set your blade as it should be.  If another blade gives you the same difficulty it might actually be something in your technique, although I think this is unlikely.  The saw frame itself cannot be at fault, as long as the blade is reasonably taut.


RickS503's picture

(post #98441, reply #4 of 7)

Have you check the tension you have the blade at?  Might have it too loose or too tight - most likely too loose

1 - measure the board twice

2 - cut it once

3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go

4 - get a new board and go back to step 1



" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

mike4244's picture

(post #98441, reply #5 of 7)

How far can you saw before the blade drifts?If the saw drifts after cutting a couple of inches the blade is set more on one side. You can see it when looking down the blade. If you can cut up to a foot long before it drifts then the blade is too slack or you are inadvertently turning the frame.


EdHarrison's picture

(post #98441, reply #6 of 7)

If you are following along with the philosophy in AG's book, you know that he thinks these saws have too much set as delivered. If you're tracking to one side or another you may want to take all the set out of both sides and put just a slight amont back in (one-half the width of the blade, which is thin, indeed).

Here comes the pure opinion part, and only applies if you don't have a saw set: I think the brand new Japanese import saw sets you can buy at various woodworking catalogue web sites are junk, but just barely good enough to get the job done. A better tool is old the Stanley 42 or Millers Falls 214 saw sets that you might see on ebay. I bought my Millers Falls 214 saw set on ebay for less than $10 plus shipping and this 50 year old tool is just like new and one of my best tools. Search "Millers Falls" and "214" on ebay and you should see one come up every two or three weeks or so. They run a little cheaper than Stanley just because of the name. Good luck, Ed

Location: Western Montana

glueguy's picture

(post #98441, reply #7 of 7)

Hi aj . Hope this helps you . I own 6 of those bowsaws. A 9 pt 28 in a 5 pt 28 in and a 9  pt 16 in   danish saw plus 3  different size scroll saws . as well as one  seperate  bowsaw for cutting green firewood. The best information . I found on the care , use and troubleshooting of these saws was  in a set of 3 early books  by fine woodworking on techniques. I believe it was the second one , written by tage frid that had a long article on  bowsaw use , maintenance etc. I found the information valuable.I looked at my  spare blades yesterday . All the putsch blades had way too much set for cutting dry hardwoods.Mr guidice recommends a setting of 9-10 for  the 9 pt. saws and 10- 12 for the 5 pt . saws. I have an old millers falls set for the 5 pt and a new jap saw set for the 9 pt. Everything has to work in unison the teeth have to be leveled and  you have to  put in   the right amount of set in the teeth . I use a slim taper file for the 5 pt and  a double  extra slim for the 9  pt. Remember to  use  the same amount of file strokes for each tooth 1 or 2 . Teeth need filing when  you see light shining off  their tops.I/m guessing your problem  might be a} uneven teeth height, or wrong amt of set. When I first got the blades from woodcraft . the first thing I did  was flatten the  blade on the flat end of a cheap machinest/s vise all along  the blade. Then I went in and put  in a very slight amt of set in each tooth. Ag gives a rough guide to this in 7 essentials of wood working . Good luck and keep practicing ernie