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Douglas Fir 2 X 6 Deep Back Dovetail Saw

author-gravatar Dylan Sep 14, 2015

Submission for the /r/woodworking 2x challenge.

My father has a birthday later this month so I decided to build a dovetail saw for him. 

Cuts much better than I had hoped for. The handle isn't too bad either. 

The finished product. Happy birthday pops!

2x6 douglas fir for home depot

Planed down to 7/8" 

Pistol grip handle pattern I found on at

Drilling the radii, my forstner bit set only goes up by 1/8" increments, close enough

All drilled, ready to cut the handle out on the bandsaw

Rough shaping on the sander

Grain orientation is important, looks good.

Marking the slot for the blade

Cutting the slot for the blade

Shaping the handle with rasps and files

More shaping

Finished shaping.

So we have the handle of the dovetail saw, now we need some steel for the blade and some brass for the back. This steel came coiled, and cutting the tie of the coil was legitimately scary, as at this point that steel is essentially a 50" x 6" razor blade, and it doesn't want to be coiled.

Blue tempered 1095 spring steel, rc48-51 hardness. Rough layout of the blade within the spring steel.

I made 5 or 6 shallow passes with the angle grinder because I didn't want it to get too hot and ruin the temper. The steel holding it in place also acts as a heat sink. 

Shallow cuts

After a few passes I just snapped it off.

This is the muscle of the operation, the Foley 385 Retoother, I found it on craigslist in a lot of Foley sharpening equipment, had to go to Reading, PA to pick it up, but I got a good deal.

And doing a bit of routine maintenance work before running the machine and I snap not one but both set screws linking the flywheel to the main shaft. Well this just sucks.

Drilled a hole in a piece of steel and welded it to the set screw, backed it out as much as I could then cut the steel. 

... I hate set screws... keyways we like...

This is the punch and die and will be creating our new saw teeth. They were pretty beat up, so it took a bit of grinding and filing to get them in good shape

This is the carrier bar and the ratchet, a feed pawl can be set to engage with every notch or every other, ect., there are 9 ratchets in the set, I have 7 I think. I can cut 3.5 ppi (points per inch) up to 15. 

Here is the carrier with the steel attached going through the retoother. Oh, I have 2 of them, because I had to buy the whole lot. 

Where the toothing happens

A simple vinegar bath to remove the blue from the steel

What is a backsaw without a proper back? I tried to build a metal break to fold the back but either my design was flawed or I am not strong enough to bend 1/8" brass, not sure which is worse...

Filling to get the two pieces to the same size

So I used JB Weld to epoxy the brass pieces to the steel blade, and also drove three 3/16" brass pins through the brass and steel to maintain the proper alignment. Oh, you need a carbon steel bit to drill carbon steel. The blade itself is only .020", but you will ruin titanium bits, they will just burn up, and probably ruin the temper on the blade. I bought a spade bit, it was $13 from 

Filing down the pins

Cleaning up the back


Cutting relief for the brass back

Need to notch the blade so it will fully set in the handle


Drilling holes for the brass screws

Makeshift saw vise out of plywood to file the teeth.

Filing... I had never done this before, and was kind of intimidated, but thank you Paul Sellers for the instructional videos. I filed a progressive rake à la M. Sellers, rip profile.

Introducing set to the teeth, I used the lowest setting, so the least amount ot set

60 Year Special

15 ppi

Tung oil on the handle. 

Test cut.

Not bad...


Impressive!! Not sure what I enjoyed more, the final product or reading each description. Felt like I was right there along for the ride with you. Please post more of your work! An inspiration to us all.

Ps I'm actually in need of a new saw. 

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