Tag Archives: technique

WIA11: How to Bend a Saw

At Woodworking in America I participated in the Hand Tool Olympics. It was the best darn part of the whole show, in my opinion. Truly the only place in the entire show to try out your technique and get coaching. And boy do I need coaching.

I’m a hybrid woodworker, I’ve embraced power tools now that I’m a big boy and my mommy lets me use them. But when I was a kid I was only allowed to use hand tools. When I was sneaky I’d use a handheld power tool. I haven’t crosscut or ripped by hand since I was in my early teens. Yeah, that’s my excuse.

So at the Hand Tool Olympics, I was excited to get back to work with hand tools. I did well in crosscut accuracy, but was a little slow. In the rip, I was also fairly accurate, but boy did I have problems. Not only was I bending the saw (not permanently) in the picture below, but I caused the offcut to split from the board and hit Aaron Marshall in the back. His doctor has told him to rub some dirt on the wound and keep working.

Thanks to Vic Hubbard for the photo. Not only does he do great work, he’s a great photographer.

Matt Bending a Saw

Matt Bending a Saw, Photo Courtesty of Vic Hubbard (@Tumblewood)

So, why would I post this embarassing picture? Well, I don’t know. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment (and other things). But honestly, as Mark Hochstein and Shannon Rogers pointed out, it’s a great picture for analyzing my form. So what are some of the many things I’m doing wrong?

  1. Get that stupid badge out of the way. Can you imagine if I was going full force and caught on that badge? Even more of a hazard when using powertools.
  2. Get over the work better. My shoulder, arm, saw, and cutline should all be lined up. They aren’t. That’s why I’m reaching with the saw blade and bending it.
  3. Get a saw that fits. I’m a broad guy, but not a tall guy. My saw should fit nicely from my armpit to the tip of my hand. It looks like I am pushing too much saw in the picture.
  4. Get a bench that fits. Because I’m not tall, I’m having a hard time getting up onto that bench and lining up with the cut line. If I got up on the bench any more, my left leg would be up off the ground.*
  5. Don’t push so hard. I blame my superior genetics, physique, powerful forearms, and German “powercalves.”

*Note: Don’t get a short bench with a long saw. You’ll drive the saw into the ground and ruin it.

What tips would you give me for better sawing technique? Post them in the comments section – even you smartaleks are welcome to post.