Bow Saw

Here are is a photo of the bow saw I built. The hardware, pinned blades, and plans are from Tools For Working Wood. I have lots of small pieces of old hard maple (recycled gym floor) so I used that instead of hickory that the TfWW plan calls for. So far the maple has worked well. But I’m not sure I’m tensioning this down as far as I should. I’ve used the ping-test – tightening until I can pluck the blade, and it gives a clear note rather than a dull thud. Having never seen a working bow saw, I don’t know if this is tight enough, or if I need to gather my courage and tighten farther and really test the strength of these maple arms.

I drilled the holes for the pins in the dead dry, middle of winter. By the time I finished the saw the humidity was rising, and the holes expanded just enough so the saw would not always stand upright. So I glued two small disks of leather, one to the handle, and the other to the frame. When the saw is under tension those hold nicely.

If you’re interested in trying a bow saw, there’s lots of good info on design considerations at the link above. Their plan is available free from their site, and includes full-size drawings in pdf form. Their brass pins and pinned blades are a great solution if, like me, you want to focus on the woodworking and not have to mess with the metal working that would otherwise be needed to make this saw.


About johnjoiner

Computer nerd by day, Dad and woodworker by night. Woodworking blog at
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3 Responses to Bow Saw

  1. Very nice, are you going to use it on any upcoming projects? Sometimes that motivates me to make a tool.

  2. It's really beautiful. Is that weird to say about a saw?

  3. johnjoiner says:

    woodshopbug: No. I'm working on a dry sink right now – fairly large wood and few curves.This was actually a warm-up for a larger frame saw I want to make, a la Tage Frid. I have another set of pins and a much larger blade. But there are a few things on the list before I get to that.Jen: No, that's not weird. A lot of people get into this, just for the beautiful tools.

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