|...two nice parallel cuts next to each other.|
Ok, if you're still reading...This is obviously not an all inclusive guide to sharpening a crosscut hand saw. I could go into similar length with rip saws as well, which I fully intend to do, just not right now.
What this is, is saw sharpening from the beginner's perspective. In hopes to help out a fellow saw sharpening beginner. I have in my shop a total of eight hand saws. Six of which have been rehabbed and sharpened, two are waiting on sharpening.
Tuning is a simple process, but it requires your patience and willingness to pay attention to what you're seeing and react appropriately. It also requires a soft touch. When you stone a blade, just gently run the stone down the blade. Don't put a lot of pressure on it. I have a dedicated stone for this. A friend gave me a bucket of assorted tools that included an old oil stone. That oil stone has become my saw stone. I don't believe that this is the time for expensive water stones (or expensive Arkansas stones, etc). A less expensive stone will be perfectly appropriate.
Pay attention to the back side of the cut. I tend to push too hard sometimes. This leads to an increase in tear out on the back of the board. Let the saw do the work. Tear out is also a result of too little fleam. I don't know the perfect fleam number. Too much fleam leads to a saw that cuts quickly and cleanly, but dulls fast. Not enough means that it will have a stronger edge at the tooth, but will tear out more.
Rake angle is another important detail. Zero rake cuts aggressively, but is hard to start. Too much rake makes the saw slower, but easier to start.
Tooth set. I didn't cover how to set the teeth. We'll do that later. Essentially, it's the amount that each tooth gets bent over to the side. This effectively widens the cut and allows the blade to move through the wood without binding. You can typically get away with less set in a crosscut saw than a rip saw. This is due to the tendency for a board to spring back as it is ripped.
There's plenty more that can be covered. We could fill a couple of books. File size? Sloped gullets? The finer mechanics of everything mentioned above? And a thousand other topics. For now, I just hope that this post might just push one other noob like myself down the slippery slope into the hand tool world. A well sharpened hand saw is a joy to use. A well sharpened hand saw that you sharpened YOURSELF is even more so. That's it on saw sharpening for now. I have a few other saws that I will cover soon, and I hope that I (and maybe you) can learn a little more from it.