The new Veritas saw file holder is a great tool for holding a saw file at the proper rake and fleam angles. For a good review of this innovative new tool look here. If you have been thinking of trying to sharpen your saws I hope this tool will push you to it, because it is not as difficult as you think and this tool will take the guesswork out of holding the file at the proper angles.
However, if your tool budget won’t allow for a $40 file holder, or you just don’t want to spend money to make the saw sharpening attempt then read on. Below is a re-post of an article that I wrote some time back on the saw file holder that I use. This one can be yours for a little time, some scraps of wood and a screw and washer.
As a semi retired toolmaker/machinist I have learned the value of jigs, fixtures and tool guides. In this article I would like to share with you the file guide that I use for hand saw sharpening. Shown above. It is a simple device that is easy to make. This file guide will help you to file the desired rake angle. Also, it will help you keep the file perpendicular to the saw plate for filing rip teeth or keep the file at a predetermined angle for the fleam that you want. This guide is a great help in keeping the desired angles consistent from tooth to tooth.
The saw filing guide is simple to make. The block can be made from whatever scrap you have on hand. I have made them from maple, pine, poplar and oak.
The following dimensions are not critical. My blocks are 2 ½” long and 1 ¾” wide. The thickness is 5/8” and this is the only dimension that is required. If you make the block much thinner you won’t have room for a long enough screw to hold the adjustable angle bar and if you make it much thicker it becomes too high above the saw teeth to accurately judge parallelism with the tooth line. The only other thing to remember is to make at least one side square to the front of the block. This allows you to accurately set the angle bar parallel to the front for filing rip teeth or to whatever fleam angle you choose.
The adjustable angle bar is 3/32” to 1/8” thick, about 3/8” wide and about 6” long. The length allows great accuracy in maintaining the angle formed by the saw file to the saw tooth.
The hole for the saw file is drilled to one of three sizes, depending on the size of the file to be used. The following sizes have worked well for me and will accept all of the file sizes that I normally use. They are 9/64” or #28, 3/16” or ¼”. The location for this hole is on center length wise, ¼” up from the bottom. Be sure to drill the hole for the file all the way through the block. This will allow you to use a punch to remove the file. If you try to remove the file by wiggling it around you will bell mouth the hole oversize or you may break off the tip of the file. The hole for the angle bar is on center and 3/8” from the front of the block. The size of this hole is determined by the screw that you use.
Next attach the angle bar using whatever screw you have chosen. Then using a protractor set the bar to be parallel with the front of the block, for filing rip teeth and draw a line along the side of the angle bar so you can easily reset the bar again in the future. You can do the same for the desired fleam angle, usually 15 or 20 degrees. Now you can use this block to file any rip or cross cut teeth that this file size is suited for at this rake angle.
Using a protractor mark the rake angle on the front of the block tangent to the file hole. The angle should slope downward away from the saw handle. You will need two blocks if you file the teeth from both sides of the saw. With the saw handle to your right the rake angle line should slope downward from right to left. When you turn the saw around in your vise the handle will be on your left. You will need another block with the same rake angle sloping downward from left to right.
Insert the saw file into the hole with the facet that you wish to use parallel to the angled line you just drew. When filing a tooth keep the top of the block parallel to the saw’s tooth line and the file perpendicular to the saw plate. The 6” long angle bar makes keeping the block parallel to the saw much easier and more accurate. It also makes filing perpendicular to the tooth line for rip teeth or keeping the file at the desired fleam angle easier and more accurate.
This saw filing guide will help you put your file at the desired angles and keep it there tooth after tooth. At first you need to go slow and concentrate on holding the file at the set angles. After a few saws you will begin to develop muscle memory and holding the file to the pre set angles will become like second nature.
Now go sharpen some hand saws!