For the manner in which men live is so different from the way in which they ought to live, that he who leaves the common course for that which he ought to follow will find that it leads him to ruin rather than safety.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Let's talk about crosscutting

 Since we've figured out a thing or two about sharpening a crosscut saw, let's look at putting one to use. This is definitely not the be-all-end-all guide. My method usually only involves marking the cut line on the top of the board. I've added a step for this write up, and for the foreseeable future, I'm going to continue to do it. The additional step is to mark the line on the back of the board as well. The idea is to reduce tearout on the backside of the cut. It works! And to prove it, I made a second cut with no knife lines at all.

Step one is to scribe a knife line. A square and a flat backed marking knife are the tools you want for this. Actually, I think a flat back marking knife is the marking tool you want for everything. The angled side of the marking knife goes towards the waste. Wrap the knife line around the board.

The next step is to use a chisel to widen the line. On the waste side of the line, make small paring cuts towards the line. This will make a track for the saw to follow. I found it hard to take a picture of doing this. I have a problem, see, I was only born with two arms. Anyway, the chisel cut doesn't need to go all the way around.

Today's tool of mass destruction is my Atkins no. 54. A lovely saw.

This is roughly the angle that I try to start the cut. By relaxing the angle of the saw and taking most of the weight off of the blade, it is easier to establish the cut.

Once we're into the cut, the angle can be raised. This is something I need to work on, as often I find that I start dropping the handle end of the saw as a cut.

Not too bad. Purdy darn square. However...

...I am off on the back side. This is user error. Though it's not the worst thing in the world. Again, this comes with experience. You need to train your arm to know where vertical is. You can see the knife line.

Another shot of the back of the cut. This is why I said to wrap the knife line around the back side. You will notice that there is no tearout ruining our board. if there was, it would take some extra plane work to clean up. As it is, I just have to put this thing on the shooting board and work up to the line.
I cut the end of the board again. This time with no knife lines. I marked out both sides with pencil only. I'm getting better at holding a line. There are two primary factors when it comes to holding a line. First is the user, we have to learn how to cut straight. Second is the saw, it has to be tuned to cut straight. Either way, it's up to you to make sure that you and your saw know how to work together. My saws and I have spent some time at teambuilding classes and therapy to strengthen our relationships. It seems that we'll have many happy years together. As long as...

...I always remember to bring along a knife! Illustrated here are the results of both of the above cuts side by side. You can see quite clearly that the knifed cut has no tearout on the back side. The pencil line cut, however, is pretty ragged. There are saw tuning techniques that should reduce the tearout, and I should spend some time on those little tweaks. For now, the knife line seems like a good way to keep the ragged edge at bay.

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