Tales from the saw sharpening shop: Inverters, bent backsaw blades, and more!

Vern Burke SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Here are a few questions I’ve seen show up in search engine hits on the blog and web site and the answers to them.

1. What type of inverter do I need for mobile sharpening?

The real question is not type (most inverter types will run small sharpening equipment just fine) but size. Remember, there’s a LOT of inertia in large grinding stones and it takes a LOT of current to get the machine started.

On my small machine that I use for knives, plane irons, planer knives, etc, I had to remove the coarser aluminum oxide wheel and just leave the wet horizontal fine wheel because I couldn’t start the machine consistently without overloading the biggest inverter I could get, due to the inertia.

2. How do you straighten a backsaw blade?

It takes a special talent to bend a backsaw blade, since the spine holds them super rigid. The only credible sources I’ve seen recommend removing and reinstalling the spine after straightening but I think this is liable to produce sub-optimal results. I straighten a lot of handsaws here, but I wouldn’t attempt a backsaw.

3. How can I tell if a handsaw is combination tooth?

Combination teeth have the same slope on the front and back rather than being raked toward the front like a normal crosscut or rip specific handsaw. If you find one of these monstrosities, which crosscut and rip but do both poorly, I recommend running over it a number of times with heavy equipment so that nobody else makes the mistake of attempting to use it.

4. How do I sharpen sickle bar mower knives?

The best tool I know of for sharpening mowing machine knives is the same on the old timers always used, the hand cranked or foot treadle cut stone grinding wheel.


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