Perhaps I should just learn to listen to my body. My best ideas come to me in the shower. My worst ones come while I’m in bed.
This one popped into my head as I was drifting off to sleep this week. Lots of people have seen Frank Klausz’s special bowsaw blade where the toothline switches from 0° to 90° over the space of an inch. The blade allows you to saw out the waste quite quickly.
See the blade in action in this video.
There’s also a rare Harvey Peace saw that does this same basic thing. I snapped these photos of one belonging to Carl Bilderback.
So my crazy idea was to tweak a coping saw or fretsaw blade to do the same thing. I would bend the blade using two pliers so the toothline would change its axis. Then I would drop the vertical section of the blade into my kerf and then push the saw so the horizontal teeth would do the cutting.
Simply stupid. First I did this with a high-quality Olson coping saw blade. If you bend the blade with the pliers too close together, the steel can rip. And it’s game over. If the pliers are too far apart, then the toothline changes its axis too slowly and the teeth won’t bite. Game overer.
So I fiddled with it until I got the teeth to turn 90° over about 1/16” of an inch. When I put the blade to work, the whole thing went to pot. When I pushed the saw forward (or pulled it back, I tried it both ways), the horizontal teeth didn’t engage much at all. Instead, the kerf in the wood tended to bend the blade just as well as the pliers had. Yup, wood defeats steel in this instance. I could baby the teeth into engaging the side of the waste, but it was impossibly slow.
Then I decided to try something else, and this new tactic seemed promising.
What if I tool a spiral fretsaw blade and “de-spiraled” about 1” of the blade? So I’d have a 1”-long section that was .010” thick. I would drop that section to the bottom of the sawkerf, then push forward and the spiral teeth would engage the waste. I could cut out my waste right along the baseline. Brilliant!
Nope. Have you ever unwound a spiral blade? I got pretty good at it after about 10 attempts. It doesn’t take too long — less than a minute for a blade.
Almost turgid with excitement, I loaded the blade into my fretsaw. It dropped to the bottom of the kerf and pushed forward. Ting! The blade snapped.
I tried another. Ting! Ting! Ting!
My guess: Unwinding the steel blade fatigued the blade. Hmmm, perhaps I could convince a blade manufacturer to make a batch of blades with 1” of the blade unspiraled?
Or instead, I reasoned, I could stop mucking around and finish this dovetailed carcase for the traveling Campaign Bookcase I’m building.
But then I realized that I was already done. During all the experimenting I had cut eight tail boards and eight pin boards.
I need a shower.
— Christopher Schwarz