The Lost Art of Crosscut Saw Filing

Posted by SCC on Monday, April 20th, 2009.
Warren Miller showing how to draw temper from old saw teeth

Warren Miller showing how to draw temper from old saw teeth

 

Charles learns to sharpen the crosscut saw

Charles learns to sharpen the crosscut saw

Some of the many vintage tools used to sharpen Crosscut Saws
Some of the many vintage tools used to sharpen Crosscut Saws

 

From April 6th-10th I traveled to Missoula Montana to learn the lost art of crosscut saw filing.  The training was put on at the USFS Ninemile Heritage Center outside of Missoula.  The instructor, Warren Miller, was one of the people who wrote the USFS manual on crosscut saws, and is still the respected authority of crosscut saw filing for the Forest Service.

The best crosscuts are “vintage” as in they were made before 1960.  Those are still the saws that are used today.  When sharpening these crosscuts you are working with a piece of history.  Even the tools used are vintage.  Few new crosscuts are made today and most sawyers perfer the vintage saws to modern saws.  The crosscut was quickly replaced by the arrival of the chainsaw in the 1930′s but many sections of federal land are wilderness, and no power tools can be used.  In these areas the crosscut is still king.

Over the period of a week I learned the many steps involved in making a vintage crosscut saw “sing”.  Even with a week training it will take many saws before I would say that I am a good saw filer. 

 

We where rewarded on the last day of the training by using the saws we hard sharpened to cut down and buck up some trees.  I wouldn’t say my saw sang, but it cut a whole lot better than the week before. 

 

Charles Weyer

SCC Sonoran Desert

Field Operations Coordinator

chaz@sccorps.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “The Lost Art of Crosscut Saw Filing”

  1. John Nelson wrote:

    WTG, Charles! And you learned from one of the Crosscut Jedi Masters, man! Warren wrote one of the two books on this (the other is David Michael’s “Saws That Sing”). The biggest thing in my mind is that it’s real addictive buying and fixing up and sharpening old (and new, I guess) crosscut saws. What a treat! And they’re a blast to use in the field when you’ve tuned them yourself. Congrats, enjoy!

    John (Flagstaff)

  2. David Beers wrote:

    Hello, I still use crosscut saws on the job, wilderness in NPS, TOOLS !!!! do you have any links or info to where I may find these tools to buy so I can keep our saws set and sharp. THANK YOU,
    DAVID W. BEERS
    NPS/SNP

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