Recently I acquired two hand miter saws. The acquisitions were about a
month apart. The first is a Millers Falls. I got it all cleaned up and
I even had the saw professionally sharpened. The second is a Stanley.
I did not sharpen the Stanley saw. Both saws have the Disston trademark
on the brass bolts that hold the handles to the blades. The saws look
similar but are not interchangeable from miter box to miter box. The
saws are 26 inches long. The saw with the Stanley is not as wide as the
Millers Falls saw.
When I cut a board, the Stanley operates smoothly. The same board in
the Millers Falls (this is the newly sharpened blade) requires a lot of
effort and is very jerky, in short, a pain to use. I've looked at the
teeth on both. They are both 11 points to the inch. The set appears
to be the same on both blades.
Can anyone here offer any advice as to what the problem is? I'm really
thinking that there is something subtle in the sharpening that is
causing the problem but I don't know what it might be. Before I go
back to the sharpener I'd like to have some idea of what I'd like done
different. Maybe the problem is in the boxes themselves?
Not a real answer, but wanted to comment on the Miller Falls, Greenfield,
During WWII Millers Falls was 4000 strong. In an area that was ripe with
high quality USA made tools, most along the same river. Countless have
unfortunately gone by the wayside. Only one left that I know of and that is
Starrett, about 20 miles upstream on the same river (Miller Falls is
actually the dam that is at the end of the river before it enters the
Point being; a true keepsake that should be well worth the care you give to
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it is in English, thank a
| When I cut a board, the Stanley operates smoothly. The same board in
| the Millers Falls (this is the newly sharpened blade) requires a
| lot of effort and is very jerky, in short, a pain to use. I've
| looked at the teeth on both. They are both 11 points to the inch.
| The set appears to be the same on both blades.
| Can anyone here offer any advice as to what the problem is? I'm
| really thinking that there is something subtle in the sharpening
| that is causing the problem but I don't know what it might be.
| Before I go back to the sharpener I'd like to have some idea of
| what I'd like done different. Maybe the problem is in the boxes
It's been a really long time since I worked with a hand saw, much less
sharpened one; but I think I'd be tempted to check that the Millers
Falls blade doesn't need jointing. If the teeth are all the same
height, then I'd start looking at filing angles for non-uniformity.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Check the whole setup. On occasion when we used those things 30 years
ago, the guides were also key to making the saw perform correctly. The
saw guide need to be clean, free of all debris and lightly lubricated.
If the saw blades seem to be the same size, and possibly the whole saw
frame and blade, try switching the blades/saw out. If you can test the
blade someway on the other setup, you can test to see of your blade was
Sharpened does not mean sharpened correctly. These old blades were
quite finicky, and when we sent them out they were almost always ruined
by the guys with the industrial sharpener that didn't understand we
didn't need to have the profile of the tooth changed to fit his
We always sharpened ours with small files, and touched them up with
ignition point files (if any one here remembers those!) between the
really tedious full sharpening sessions.
Also loo at the set in the teeth, that is how far they are bent from
side to side. If there is difference in the set between the two
saws that might be the problem.
Are they both nice and shiny? Any rough spots? Looking closely, is
the tooth profile the same on each?
Well I checked the jointing on the Millers Falls. Just as Morris Dovey
suggested, the jointing was not done. When you lay the saw on its
side, with a light out in the distance, and you sight down the teeth
there is a wave from side to side, not much of one, but a wave
nonetheless. The Stanly, straight as can be. I really like both of
the set ups so I'm going to see what I can do about fixing the Millers
Falls.. I'm going to have to look around, probably for an old craftsman
type saw sharpener and see if this can be remedied. Any suggestions?
My thanks to all of you who took the time to respond.
| When I say an old craftsman type saw sharpener I mean a live person.
| Unfortuneatly these talented folks are becoming a rare occurance.
If you're going to be using the saws, then why don't *you* sharpen
'em? It's not really all that difficult - and it's an opportunity to
slow down and relax for twenty or thirty minutes...
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Good luck sharpening the blades on these things once the kerf is ground
out. Called "not happenin' ".
These blades are abut 1/8 thick, and there are no kerf/set tools to my
knowledget that will set them. I have several kerf tools, and they are
perfect for my old Disston crosscut saws, but were never intended for
use on something that thick.
You can still buy those blades as they are still used in the saws that
some older picture frame shops have.
You can file all you want on that machine sharpened blade that you
have, but in the end it is still toast.
Time to make lathe parting tools, scribes, mini scrapers,etc. out of
the old carbon steel metal.
| Good luck sharpening the blades on these things once the kerf is
| ground out. Called "not happenin' ".
| These blades are abut 1/8 thick
Wow! I hadn't realized they were /that/ thick.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
On 5 Sep 2005 14:16:40 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I pulled down my Stanley 358-A, which has a blade exposure of 5" from
tooth to back, and a length measured along the teeth of 25-1/2".
The body of the blade is about 3/64" and the kerf is about 1/16".
The back is 1/4" thick.
Tom Watson - WoodDorker
Hmm.... seems like we are talking about different saws. looking at
Tom's post giving the measurements of the blade, I am talking about a
different saw than you gentlemen.
We used a saw like this, with the thickest blade my boss could buy. On
large moldings, we found that the more rigid blades gave the truest
cuts, hence the thick blades. The thick blade was necessary as this
saw blade has no stiffener (back).
The saw we used was heavier built than the one in the picture, and it
was originally made for making those gawdawful huge chunky frames (most
of them that ugly burnished gold) that were the rage in the 70s. The
saw was rumored to have cost around $500, and it was a Millers Falls
brand, probably made by someone else.
Sorry if I caused any confusion. I am positive the blades on those old
miter/back saws were nowhere near 1/8" thick.
Tom Law, who lives in Maryland North of DC is a saw sharpener of
impeccable reputation. AFAIK, he keeps a board handy and saws a
kerf with each saw he sharpens.
I do not have his contact informatino handy, but if you can find
out where the OldTools mailing list is these days you will be
able to conatact him through them.
On 4 Sep 2005 08:49:19 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
I still keep a Stanley that I bought in the early 70's because the
common wisdom was, "These Rockwell electrical miter boxes ain't never
gonna catch on".
I kept it because:
1. It was useful in situations where you needed to cut a few
pieces inside and its powered cousin would have trashed the room.
2. I couldn't sell it for anything, because those electrical
miter boxes actually did catch on.
If you sent it to a saw sharpening service you may well have been
hosed by your good intentions.
Used properly, the saws do not require more than tune up filing which,
albeit tedious, is better accomplished by someone who will live with
Machine done sharpening doesn't work for any handsaw with more than
about eight teeth per inch.
A miter box saw is essentially a long backsaw, having 10 or more teeth
per inch, which have a small set to them.
Most commercial outfits screw up the tooth profile and the set.
If they have done their usual job you will have to reform and reset
the teeth - and there are a lot of teeth.
Don't send that Stanley out, and try to get a replacement saw for the
Tom Watson - WoodDorker
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