Friday, September 4, 2009

Breaking-in The New Saw

    After a lot of practice cutting dovetails by hand (and making a few banners for extra $$) I decided to get a new dovetail saw. I have been using a Crown Gents saw so far and it works pretty well especially when you can get on e for under 25 bucks. It is, however, a bit slow to cut in 3/4" and thicker material. I won't go into the justification part much since I will freely admit that I love tools. The problem is a lot of those tools are kinda pricey. Don't judge me!
    I decided to go with what seems to be the more popular choice of Lie-Nielsen. I've already got the LN rip carcass saw and have been very impressed with it. Besides, Woodcraft had them on sale for 15% off at the time.There was a really helpful sales person there who just happened to work for Lie-Nielsen during their trade shows. That's nice to see 'cause some of those guys don't seem to know much about hand tools. Anyways, she talked me into the progressive pitch dovetail saw. This one has teeth ground into the blade at a variable spacing from 16 points per inch at the end, or toe, to 9 ppi toward the handle. She said it's supposed to start its cut easier. So that's what I ordered and two weeks later I picked it up.
    My first impressions, other than how nice it looked, weren't all that positive. This saw had a lot of hype around it with the progressive pitch part and all and I had some big expectations. I've had the LN rip  carcass saw for the last six months and It's been wonderful. Even with 10 ppi it cut very smoothly and left a decent finish. I figured the dovetail saw would be even better. Instead, I found it to feel a bit rough although the cut quality was about the same as the carcass saw. It vibrated quite a bit and seemed to catch at about the last third of the blade. I figured the rougher feel was probably due to the progressive pitch but I still wasn't happy with it catching. 
     Since this is a new saw I decided to break it in and see if it would help. Apparently new saws need a breaking in period because the freshly sharpened edges have little burrs that can make it grabby. So, I made about a hundred and fifty practice cuts in some poplar scrap. A little better, but it still seemed to catch a bit. Then I tried some oak. Even worse. I posted this on and it was suggested that I needed time to get used to how it cut. I had considered the possibility of returning it. 
    After some more thinking I decided to try something else. Not wanting to drive all the way up to the north side of Indy and deal with the bumper-to-bumper traffic I decided to stone it. No, not throw a brick at it or light up a fatty, but lightly rub it with a fine sharpening stone. Just a few times on each side as evenly as I could. I tried some cuts again, this time in cherry and walnut. Sweetness. I made another fifty cuts and it seemed to behave nicely. It cut straight and fast.
    I've since decided to keep it and I am looking forward to using it on my next project, dressers for the boys. I'll be using dovetails for the carcass joinery. The kind you can see in the top of the dresser. And I think I may be ready after a few hundred more practice cuts.


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