Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sharpen Your Handsaws With Ron Herman: Review

There's a reason why I took so many classes with Ron Herman at last year's WIA Conference—he's a great teacher.

In his new video, Sharpen Your Handsaws With Ron Herman, he provides clear, concise instructions.  After watching the video, you will know exactly how to sharpen handsaws—rip, crosscut, and miter.

Also included with the video is a 14-page pdf file explaining saw terminology, sawtooth characteristics, how to use handsaws for ripping and crosscutting, file sizes, and saw till inventories for different types of trades (cabinetmaker, timber framer, etc.).

Ron walks you through the sharpening process, starting with the basics—the parts of a saw and the few tools needed to sharpen them. He tells you what to look for if you're shopping for a vintage vise and talks a little bit about vintage saws.

From there, he works on a rip saw, then a crosscut saw, and briefly discusses miter saws.  Saws are sharpened in this order: joint, shape, sharpen, test, adjust set.  And when sharpening, you use your senses of touch, hearing, and sight.

When you joint the teeth, pay attention to the sound. A consistent noise will tell you when you're finished.

In great detail and with close-up camera shots, Ron shows how to sharpen saw teeth. Which are all apparently male. Little soldiers, in fact.

He explains rake and the degrees that works best with soft- and hardwoods.

He talks about what to look for when sharpening, how to position your light source, and where to put pressure on the file to address trouble spots.  Because he explains why problems occur, we become equipped with the ability to trouble shoot on our own.  Is sawdust collecting on the teeth instead of in the gullet? Your saw is not sharp. And Ron explains why.

He shows you how to position your body for maximum comfort and best results, and brings up safety issues on several occasions.

He tests each saw after sharpening, eyes closed so he doesn't try to adjust the cut if the saw wants to wander, and shows how to remove and add set as necessary. He even intentionally messes up his careful sharpening by bending a half dozen teeth, testing the saw, and showing how to quickly correct it.

Crosscut saws are a little trickier because of the fleam, but Ron makes it easy. In fact, all of it looks easy with patience and practice.

We can totally do this.

You can see the introduction to his video at the bottom of this link.


Anonymous said...

(You can't see me, but I was totally sitting right next to Kari when she took that picture.)

So? Did you do it? Did you get out my new dovetail saw's sibling and go at it with files??

Kari Hultman said...

I did not, Ethan. Your sibling is unbelievably sharp already. :o) I do, however, plan to attack a certain yellow-handled saw from the big box store with my new saw sharpening skills.

Anonymous said...



You couldn't comb hair with mine before I sharpened it, its teeth were so dull!

It isn't "unbelievably sharp" yet, but it was just my first attempt, and it definitely cuts wood now. No worries; I'll get there! And if not, there's always Matt...



gchpaco said...

Does Ron go into straightening saw plates in this DVD? That's something I had to learn through a very difficult to describe process of watching different people hit saws with hammers.

Kari Hultman said...

gchpaco, he does not go into straightening a saw plate, but that would have been an excellent addition to the video.

Vic Hubbard said...

Since I have a couple Bad Axe saws on the way, I should buy this to accompany them. Maybe some of my old saws are work a tune up.

Anonymous said...

I swore I would never try to sharpen a hand saw until I bought some parts from Mike Wenzloff of Wenzloff Saws. He was kind enough to supply me with a punched blank and instructions on sharpening the blade. I now have a dovetail saw that ever Rob Cosman said cut nice. I am proud to say it was a nice experience. Also it is great knowing that you caused the saw to cut that way.

Tom buhl said...

I made a couple of Ron’s WIA 2010 sessions. Great presenter: funny, informative and inspiring. Thanks for the review, Kari.