How To Sharpen a Cross Cut Saw

Not too many people actually own a cross cut saw anymore. Cross cut saws are different from the normal saw as these particular saws are made – as indicated by its name -  to create cross cuts, or cuts made horizontally through the trunk of a tree. The teeth of the saw were created to cut into wood at a 90 degree angle in the direction of the wood grain. This unique design for the cross cut saw makes cutting through the trunk seamless like a hot knife through butter – well maybe not so effortlessly. An old fashioned version of this cross cut saw is manned by two people, with one person handling one end. Handling such a tool is difficult, much more when you have to maintain it to keep it in optimum condition. Here’s how to sharpen a cross cut saw.

In sharpening a crosscut saw, you will need the following materials/equipment:  two vises, a workbench, and a small metal or diamond file. A vice is a screw apparatus much like a clamp which is used to secure tools such as saws, planes and etc.  A bench vise - which is needed for this task - is a pair for vises attached to a bench.

Since a cross cut saw has teeth on both sides it is best that you deal with one side first. Secure the cross cut saw between the two vises placed on your workbench with the one side of teeth side up. Once secured, take your metal or diamond file and place it against the bevel of the first tooth. Just start on one side of tooth and using a sliding motion, let the file run off the end of the bevel upwards to the top of the tooth.

There are different tooth patterns found on the cross cut saws. There is the plain tooth which is triangular in shape, an M tooth which has edges shaped like the letter “M” and other irregular shaped tooth designs like the Champion, Great American, Lance and Perforated Lance tooth designs. Regardless of design, just follow the edge of the teeth and remember to file upwards. Don’t sharpen by filing back and forth. From the bottom or base of the edge, slide upwards and then lift. Then start from the base again.

Move on from one tooth to the next until all the teeth on that side of the saw are sharpened. Once done, flip the saw and secure it with the vises again. Sharpen each tooth with the file again.

To ensure that all the teeth are the same height, you may use a tooth gauge to check if all the teeth are uniform in shape. A simple ruler or drawing a tooth guide would also do the job. Once you have finished sharpening the rows of teeth, use sandpaper or a scrub and pass it over each side of the saw to remove an burrs caused by the filing. Once that is done, you are good to go!

When using a cross cut saw, remember to lubricate the metal to prevent the wood and chips from sticking to the saw.


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