Fine Tool Building

Because sometimes when you need a good tool, ya just gotta make it yourself...

The following was submitted by Darrell LaRue.

I'm jealous. Nuff sed.

Stair Saw

After recently cutting a few dados in narrow stock at odd angles, I decided that I would finally build myself a stair saw.  First I need some wood.  Here we are.  Cherry offcut, that'll look nice.  Check out a couple of my older saws for examples of what a comfy handle should look like (the good ones all have that unsightly bulge that feels so good in yer hand).  I spent a bit of time scribbling on the wood until I had what looked like a nice profile.  Now I gotta cut it out.  Bore holes of the appropriate diameter where the curves match up to an auger bit.  Rough out the shape on the ole neanderbuddy.

And then lots of shaving, rasping, filing, scraping, sanding, and oh yah, those floats I made leave a niiice surface; gotta make another float, a bigger one.  Someday... yah, sure, someday.

Lemesee... now I need a blade.  Where did I see that piece of saw steel I got from Eddie... <rummaging about in the corners of the shop>  Must've been a couple of years ago he had that sale <rummage rummage>  Wonder if he's still makin' those Adria saws <dig dig dig>  Here it is!  In order to get this to fit in the body of the stairsaw I need a kerf cut in it.  Do I have a saw that will cut a kerf to match this?  Nope.  Nope.  Yep.  See?  Sometimes you need three dovetail saws just so's ya can get the right size of kerf.  You wouldn't expect me to get by with only one auger bit would ya?

Here's where the tension gets the thickest.  Gotta get a good clean deep cut and it's gotta be square to the sole too.  <sawing sounds emanate from the shop...> Hmmm.  Not *perfect* but it will do quite nicely.  Man that is slow cutting when you've got to go through that much material all at once.  Dovetails aren't nearly so much work.   Oh, and I taped a scrap of pine on the end of the lower inside horn to protect it from the dovetail saw.   Right, so the saw blade blank will fit nicely in the kerf, but I first have to cut the blank down to size.  A bit of filing to score the blank, and the some gentle pressure followed by a sharp rap with a wooden mallet (don't fergit yer safety goggles here folks!).

Now I have to drill a couple holes and hacksaw the slots in the blade.  This is pretty much a brute-force thing.  I just reach into the bin full of 1/4 inch drill bits and sacrifice one.   And then a fresh blade in the hacksaw for the slots.  Yuck.  How did I miss that layout line by so much?  Oh, well. It'll be hidden inside the body of the saw, so just leave it.

Now I gotta cut some teeth.  Cross-cut teeth no less.  Delve into the papers & info and see what the experts have to say.  Sounds pretty straighforward.  But how to get the teeth started evenly?  Ah yes, that nasty old Craftsman cross cut saw Andrew gave me at the WNY Galootapalooza.  An old saw with reasonably even teeth makes a really great indexing jig to start new teeth with!  Thanks, Andrew!  There, now I have some nice even teeth, which have to be filed and set.  According to the stuff I've read you can do it both ways: file and set or set and file.   Flip a coin.  Set & file it is.

Now how do I get this thing to stay put?  Couple of bolts I guess.  I start digging around in the parts bins and suddenly I think No!  Andrew's old saw to the rescue again!  Sawnuts.   A nice touch, eh?  Some final sanding, and a couple coats of Paddylac.  But first we try it out.  Sweeet.

And after it's all done and hanging in the tool rack, I start wondering about sliding dovetails.  I'm guessing I should make another one of these saws with a beveled fence.  Or does anyone out there have a good way of attaching such a fence to a stair saw?  I'm runnin' out of sawnuts here... unless I want to use the Warranted Superior medallion.

I brought the saw to work to scan it (not wanting to wait the eternity it takes to finish off and develop a roll of film...).  Whilst I was poking around at the scanner, somebody came over to see what I was up to.  "Oh, a tool, I should've known..."  was her comment.  And then she looked closer...  "You put a saw in the scanner?  Won't that hurt it?"  Well, I said, it might darken the finish on one side, but it won't really hurt it.

happily puttering away in the shop when he should be workin' on that sleighbed...

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