Frame Saws, Part the Second

Before getting into the battenless frame saw for cross-cutting, sometimes referred to as “buck saws,” I wanted to point out this little tidbit. Check out the upper right corner.

roman wood shop

Capitoline Museum (Montemartini) Rome. late first century. Image from the book Roman Woodworking by R.B. Ulrich, ISBN 978-0-300-10341-0.

75-Amb-2-317-21-r.tifIt looks like the 16th century version I am using for a design pattern is a regressive example. I’m more than okay with this, as batten style frame saws are just as contemporary.

Actually building the battenless frame saws probably took as much time to write about as it did to make.

From Die Hausbucher der Nurnburger Zwolfbruderstiftungen, Subject: Karl Shrayner, d. 1425

I started with a piece of oak that was more than four times the length of my hand and at least twice as wide. This really was scrap as there was some shellac, I think, on one face of the board and I had to remove a couple nails before beginning. Of thickness, it was probably around 7/8th”. I set a rip that looked comfortable to wrap my hand around, somewhere near an inch and a quarter wide probably. Honestly, I don’t know and I haven’t measured it. I took a second board for the stretcher that was still in the rough, around 4/4 thick, and ripped it a little narrower than the parts cut for the braces. This gets all a bit muddled, but the brace ends were generally marked to have twice the width of my palm and the breadth of the saw plate, then the width of the stretcher was added for total length. A few crosscuts and viola, I have brace ends.  Well, not quite.


Pairing the brace ends led to aligning a hole for the blade pins. I laid the end of the blade mostly square over the end of the frame part and marked the depth for the saw-plate and pin hole. A quick pair of arcs with a divider found the center of the width and a square lighted the way to centering the pin-hole. Once bored, it became a simple matter of using the first as a template to mark the other three. The holes in the saw-plates are 1/4″ diameter. To make sure everything would be tight the related holes in the wooden parts was 1/64″ smaller.

I set each of the frame ends in turn into a wooden brace that was clamped to the table and marked out a center line on each. This time I ball-parked half the thickness on a marking gauge and scribed from both of the broad faces. This left a pair of marks just a bit under 1/16th”, which was perfect for aligning the saw I would use to cut the kerfs.


One, two, three, four, like scotch and water. While I had it all out, I also cut notches about a fat finger opposite the business end for anchoring the tension cords.

2013-03-31_17-00-21_174Since I had the full dimensions of the brace-ends, I could now set a divider to figure the final width of the stretchers. For this one I whipped out a sector, set it to “four” and then set my dividers to “three”.

I’d jointed one face and side of the stretcher already, and found that there wasn’t much left to remove on the other two faces to get parallel and final width. A couple passes with a smoother and I had stretcher stock prepared.

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