Enoch Root Inspired Back Saw Handle Angles to ab.b.p.w.


Did'ja ever wonder what the average handle angle on a backsaw was? Enoch Root mentioned Bob Brode's web pages on various handle shapes and, being a data freak, I measured the angles of the handle examples on Brode's pages and posted Open Hanlde and Closed Handle data and results in a.b.p.w. for anyone who likes obscure woodworking stuff. (I'll do almost anything to avoid doing my taxes)
charlie b
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The charlie b entity posted thusly:

Interesting. Do you have any thoughts on why the average angles of open vs. closed handles are so different?
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Oleg Lego wrote:

I think the handle angles are smaller on the "finer" saws... finer in the sense of 15pt vs. 10pt.
Rational: you're going to be hanging over your workpiece more as you saw if you are cutting a narrow dovetail, paying attention to the cut on both sides and how straight the blade is. With a bigger job and a longer (tenon) saw you're wanting to get more behind it for a more effective push. Being more on top of the saw it feels less awkward if your hand is tipped up to grasp the saw than if you had to grab the saw from behind at a lower position and angle.
aside: I noticed on an old panel saw (an early Jackson) I have, that if I rotate my wrist with the saw in hand the axis of rotation of the saw blade is very nearly colinear with the teeth of the blade. It's a small saw (~18" blade) and this doesn't work for a larger D8, though, so it may be a coinkidink.
er
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Oleg Lego wrote:

That one's got me wondering too. The pictures don't show the whole saw, just a bit of the blade and all of the handle. Most, but not all, of the closed handle backsaws appear to be tenon saws while most, but not all, of the open handle backsaws appear to be dovetail saws. Could be that the wider blade of the tenon saw raises the handle more above the top of the cut and that the rip cut is much longer than those of a typical dovetail.
I suspect it also has to do with how the cut is made. With a dovetail saw, the part is held vertically in the vise and the cuts are made basically straight down, with the teeth horizontal. With a tenon, the part is often tilted and the cut s made with the blade at an angle to the long axis of the part then turned around for the next cut and finished off with horizontal cuts - an inverted "V" This gets you more of the saw in the cut so the cut guides the saw once you get started. Imagine cutting a 1" thick board. If you cut directly acrossed it, you never have more than one inch of contact between the sides of the blade and the wood. But if you cut at 45 degrees you've got 1.414 inches of contact. More side friction and more force or more strokes required, but staighter cut. 1" ____ dovetail cut made horizontal
/ \ 1" / 1.414" 1.414" \ _____ cut 1 angle cut 2 angle finish cut Then again, it could be the personal preference of the first guy and everyone else thouth "well if it's good enough for him . . ."
The longer rip and cross cut saws all had closed handles and the handle angle looked closer to 90 degrees. With those saws the user is typically sawing almost straight down.
It is interesting that the handle of "western" saws dictate how you can use the saw - it's fixed more or less and the part must be oriented properly to make the cut. With a japanese saw like a dozuki, you can go from a horizontal cut to a vertical cut in a smooth, continous motion without having to reorient the board. Imagine cutting an inch and a half notch in the corner of a wide panel. The best part orientation would be flat on the bench and the cut started almost horizontal and then switched to vertical once started. But with a western saw you either have to kneel on the horizontal panel and saw leaning over the cut or try, in spite of the handle, to cut vertically.
I like the Japanese pull saws - more options - and having options is always good.
charlie b
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