Making a new handle for a dovetail saw


I recently started cutting dovetails and found my 14 inch tenon saw a bit unwieldy for the job. One of the Australian Woodwork Forum members was able to help out with something more suitable that he’d started work on and thought I could finish.

It’s a 10 inch Disston backsaw with fine teeth, but it needed a new handle. The previous owner had started to cut one out of American Oak and sent it along with the blade for me to work on.

The first step for me was to change the design to an open handled one as the closed handle grip wasn’t going to fit my hand. A bit of work with the coping saw and I had the below handle to work with.

I put the z-vice to good use holding it while I took to it with a rasp and sandpaper, until it both looked good and felt good in my hand.

Then comes the hard part – cutting the handle for the blade. I marked it carefully and using its own blade started the cut, then finished this with a tenon saw and a small gents saw.

Because this is a back saw I had to clear a spot for the spine to fit into, so I marked it out and used a narrow mortice chisel to take out some of the wood around the top so it would fit.

Then came careful marking of the holes by laying the blade on top, drilling the holes and then drilling them out with a countersink bit so the screws fit in. It still needs a little more work to seat the screws properly and some more sanding before I finish it, but it’s looking good and fits my hand nicely.

Once done I will mix some stain into some boiled linseed oil and try and match it to my other saws, then give it a good sharpen before putting it to use.

I was quite scared at trying a saw handle as they look quite complicated but I found it was only a few hours work and it was very enjoyable seeing it take shape. Cutting the handle for the blade was the scariest part and it’s not quite perfect on this one, but it isn’t going to effect it in use. I’m going to try another handle soon because I had a lot of fun doing this one.

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