I have just completed work on my newest frame saw. I used a sawplate and hardware from Blackburn Tools. I opted for the 3″x36″ plate, drilled but unsharpened. I have a 21.5″ blade from Bad Axe that works very well for narrower stock, but I wanted to have a longer saw for heavier duty resawing. My original plan was to use my existing hardware, but I ran into a couple of problems. First, the Blackburn plate would not fit into the kerf of my existing hardware, which had been rough cut with a hacksaw, and I had no good way of widening that kerf. Second, when I took apart my original frame saw, I noticed a few problems and decided I might be better off rebuilding the saw. I purchased the Blackburn hardware, then one of their spade drill bits to drill holes to fit the new hardware.
The hardware package from Blackburn was top-notch. The only thing I had to do was to file a small ridge inside the brackets; otherwise, everything was ready to use out of the box. The strike plate is nice and thick, as is the tightening bolt. I build the saw using cherry that I had left over from another project, and soft maple arms. I used a simple stub tenon, as recommended by the Blackburn plans, and traced out the end pattern from their plans as well, though I shoretend the ends overall to match my shoulder width.
I built a quick hanger for my saw and installed both on a french cleat. Since this saw is a worker, I didn’t spend a ton of time refining the shape. It’s got a coat of boiled linseed oil. As I use it, I will refine the shape further to fit my hands and make it more comfortable, using a new coat of BLO each time. The new saw is heavier than the first, obviously, but not by a ton. The Blackburn hardware is lighter, for one, then my orginal (made by a lcoal metalworker friend).
The saw came together well on tightening. I used a cheater bar (a dowel or a piece of pipe) to get the last few turns. My method for these is to tighten by hand and then check for twist. I find if there is a small amount of twist, I can correct it by resting one end on the ground, using my feet as counter resistance, and manually twisting the frame genntly the opposite direction. Once it is true, I tighten it a few more quarter turns with the cheater bar until the blade no longer deflects much in the middle and gives a satisfying rattle-free thump like a bass guitar when plucked. If you find you can’t correct the twist, you made need to dissassemble, check your tenon shoulders for square and your arms for equal length (shoulder to shoulder, the length of the tenons is unimportant, so long as the mortise depths are sufficient). I had no trouble correcting a slight twist and my saw has stayed perfectly true since.
In use, this saw is great. The classical design is actual more versatile then I expected. You can use it on the push stroke, with your hands either vertical on the end knobs, or horizontal an the back of the saw (I beveled the edgs substantially for comfort, though I may fully round them over in time). You can also use it on the pull stroke, though it’s a little tougher. The pull stroke is good for deeping the running kerf. I still used my Fidgen Kerfing plane to establish my primary kerf to track the saw. It tracked beautifully, much better than what I was getting with my shorter saw in lumber as wide as 8-9″. The small saw is still going to be the go-to tool for narrow stock resawing, but this long saw will get plenty of use for wide pieces when I’m making shelves, guitar tops and similar.
I was worried with the montstrous teeth this saw sports that it might be difficult to push, but that has proven no great challenge. It tracks beautfully in an established kerf, with the wide plate providing very good stability. It works great and I’m more than happy with the results. A power tool to do similar work would have run me in the neighborhood of $1500, so this tool is a wise investment as well.
If you’re a woodworker, I highly recommend you build yourself a frame saw, and Blackburn Tools is a great company to work with. Or, if you’d like a saw, but don’t have time to build one yourself, contact me to discuss how I can make one for you AT COST. I am still learning my skills and would like to build things for people. I am basically volunteering my services to allow you to have the tools you desire and allow me to build skills and reputation. Let me know if you are interested.