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How To Sharpen Your Bow Saw? Follow These Easy Ways

No tool shed or garden shed should be without a trusty bow saw. They are great at cutting green or fresh wood like living tree branches and logging newly cut trees that have not dried out. These saw come in a variety of different sizes for different conditions; small and fairly compact bow saws are great to take camping with you, if you want to be able to quickly cut down some branches for firewood or to make a quick shelter.

Some bow saws are so big that you need two people to operate these are for logging large trees. Most of the ones we have in our tool shed will be a medium size between 0.5 meters long and 1 meter long. The large teeth are made up of triangular cutting teeth for cutting through the wet wood and fishtail raker teeth to clear the build-up of wet saw dust on both the push and pull stroke, without the fishtail raker teeth you will find the saw blade would get stuck or jammed.

Over time and with use, these essential tools will dull and loose their edge making them not as effective as they once were. But that does not mean you should throw out your bow saw and buy a new one, the bow saw can be sharpened and with proper care these fantastic tools will last a lifetime.

Getting Started

You will need a vice to hold the saw blade, a triangular file, a flat file, a pair of pliers or a saw set. If you have diamond edge files these are best but not essential. Get everything you need ready at your workstation, so you are properly prepared for the job at hand.

Start With Jointing The Saw

Hold the blade flat in a vice with the teeth pointing up. Then get the flat file and carefully run it along the blade so all the teeth are the same height. The raker teeth are set below the cutting teeth but don’t worry about that just yet they will get adjusted and set later on in the process.

Get the Triangular File to Put an Edge on the Triangular Cutting Teeth

These teeth should be filed at a 75-degree angle to the cutting plate and alternate on each tooth, so the cutting angle is always on the inside. You should do one tooth at a time and only put pressure on the file with the push stroke, this will help keep the file in good condition and you can easily make adjustments to the angle of the cut. The outside of the blade will remain flat on both sides. Eventually you will have to deepen the depth of the groove on the cutting blade; this can be done simply with a chainsaw sharpening tool.

Move Onto the Fishtail Rakers

These are filed at 90-degrees to the cutting plate with the tips being filed into a chisel edge with the pointed edge facing either end of the saw. The filed tips should lie below the triangular cutting teeth. Keep this in mind as you progress along the saw blade.

Get The Set

Your bow saw like most saw blades has a set, this means that the cutting teeth are pushed out slightly away from the saw plate, making the width of the of the cutting tips wider than the saw plate. The width between the cutting tips is called the ‘kerf’. Using the saw set or a pair of pliers, push each triangular cutting tip out slightly. Making sure you alternate each tooth to keep that angled edge on the inside of the blade. You do not set the rakers.

Go For Test Cutting 

After sharpening your saw blade make sure you do a test cut. See how the well the saw performs against how it was before you sharpened it. This should also highlight any small adjustments that may need to be made.

Final Considerations

Remember to take you time and not to rush this process. You want a good job not a quick job and if you are rushing you may slip and potentially injure yourself. Even if your saw blade is dull it will still cut you if you slip and run your arm across the saw blade. Minimize the risk, take your time and if you have a good pair of gardening gloves that allow for decent hand dexterity, wear them.

With proper care and maintenance your bow saw will last many years and do everything it was designed to do. So, if you are ever caught short with a tree that has fallen down, or a bush that needs to be cut back, your saw is sharp and ready to go, making your gardening jobs nice, easy and quick.

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