Saw shop tech: crosscut saws, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

I occasionally wander around YouTube seeking videos of folks using old vintage tools like the ones I restore. Unfortunately, a lot of these videos are poster children for how NOT to use or maintain these tools. In this post, I’m going to share a couple of the latest hits and misses I’ve seen on crosscut saws.

This first video is a one man crosscut saw and definitely goes in the miss pile. The first problem is using a crosscut saw that is WAY too long for the wood being cut. For one man, a crosscut saw much longer than 42″ is a pain to handle. For the size of wood being cut, a 36″ crosscut saw would be plenty long enough and a lot more comfortable to handle.

The second mistake of this video is sawing way out on the toe of the saw. Restrict your use of the toe teeth to getting the saw started, then do your sawing as much toward the handle as possible where the blade is stronger and you’ll be much less likely to bend or break the saw.

The second video is a definite win and an example of something you rarely see being done. Since the log in this video is only supported on the ends, attempting to saw it from the top would only resulted in a pinched saw. The axe handle is used to provide support to hold the crosscut saw blade up against the under side of the log. The only problem with this one is one man sawing with a two man crosscut saw. Use a one man crosscut for this and you’re spot on!

Finally, there’s the ugly video. Don’t use Western style crosscut saw handles without the knuckle guards! The first couple of times you get your knuckles pulled into the log hard, you’ll wish you had them.

Visit me at any of the following locations:

Elm Plaza, Waterville, ME (Mondays)
Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1 & Log Cabin Rd, Arundel, ME (Fridays)
298 W Front St, Skowhegan, ME (all other days)

If you’re looking for a special tool, please drop me an
email and let me know and I’ll restore one just for you!

SwiftWater Edge Tool Works provides mobile sharpening services across Maine and mail in services around the world for handsaws, carbide blades, planer knives, hand planes, chain saws, knives, scissors, hair clippers, router bits, and almost any blade!


2 thoughts on “Saw shop tech: crosscut saws, the good, the bad, the ugly.

  1. Always good to be in the winners column. I made the video for a traditional tools workshop intended for trail maintainers. Since they often carry two-person saws, I used a big guy in the example. As you stated, a smaller saw would have been easier to handle given the size of the tree being cut.

    • Good to hear from you, Dan! Since I make at least part of my profession from restoring the old tools to user condition (and consulting with people about what they need and how to use them), I thought it would be worth trying to sort out a bit of the cruft people were seeing on YouTube.


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