New Saw Sharpening Vise

My hand saws and panel saws are starting to act like they need some attention, so I spent the last day and a half building a new vise for sharpening them.

Saw sharpening vise

I originally intended to build a replica of the “swinging saw vise” featured on The Woodwright’s shop a season or so ago, but I decided that even though I’ve allowed my handtool operation to spill into the livingroom of my house, I couldn’t really justify the space (and with time flying by, I couldn’t really justify the added complexity either).  Instead, I designed a smaller vise that is held in place by my leg vise and clamps (for now) with a pair of hex bolts and wingnuts.  I will probably still throw a coat of finish on it, but it is basically ready to go to work now.

Things I would do differently if I were to build a second one:

  1. I would move the vertical posts closer to the center to allow the biggest handsaws to be clamped along the full length of their toothline.  As it stands, the left post interferes with the tote on my D-8, so I will be filing the last for our five teeth unsupported.  Oops.
  2. I might make the posts longer and leave some extra material at the bottom where the hinges attach.  I believe this would help create beter clamping pressure on the sawplate.  I’m not sure if this is a problem yet.  The vise seems to hold the plate securely, and it is unlikely I will be bearing down on a file so hard that the plate would shift, but I won’t know how well things perform until I start sharpening.  Luckily (I guess), I have six saws or so that need work, so I’ll find out soon.
  3. I would consider making the vertical posts a little wider.  I was thinking of using the Moxon vise hardware from Tools for Working Wood instead of the (much cheaper) hex bolts and wingnuts.  I know this would give me better clamping pressure, but I worried that half inch holes might be a bit much for the narrow posts (my hex bolts are 3/8″).
  4. I’d use something stiffer than alder for the posts.  It’s pretty soft and flexible.  However, I had enough scrap to use on this project (and not really enough for something more substantial), so here we are.  At least it’s pretty.  The hard maple jaws will certainly hold up to some abuse.
  5. Even though I would make a smaller vise for sharpening backsaws (especially my dovetail and carcass saws, which have too shallow of a plate to be accomodated by jaws as large as these), I would probably cut some recesses on the insides of the vertical posts.  Without doing this, this vise will not accommodate the back of a backsaw.  This would be an easy enough modification for me to make to this vise, and I still might do it.  I could then use this vise to sharpen my larger tenon saw.

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