Panel Saws Sharpened by Matt Cianci


My Dutch tool chest isn’t big enough to hold full-size handsaws, so I’ve been on a long search for the right panel saws that fit the chest and suit the work I do on the road.

After searching three tool-swap meets without success, I grew tired of the hunt and asked Matt Cianci at the to find some panel saws for me and fix them up so they were good to go.

I’d met Cianci in person for the first time last year at a meeting of the Early American Industries Association (no good panel saws there, either). There I watched him sharpen a few saws and tried out several of the saws he had sharpened or made. The guy is dead serious about saws, and his filework is both crisp and precise.

The panel saws arrived this week, and I’ve been breaking them in. For those who are curious about the configurations of my saws, here are the details of what I like in toolbox saws.

Crosscut Panel Saw: Matt found a 22” Disston D8 that he restored for me. The saw is taper-ground (.035” at the toothline; .025” at the spine). Matt filed it as an 8-point with 15° of rake and 25° of fleam. That is a good general filing configuration for a crosscut saw – a filing I also have on my full-size handsaw.

The saw was made during the early years of the 20th century – check out the Disstonian Institute to learn a crazy amount of information on dating Disston saws.

Rip Panel Saw: Spear & Jackson No. 88, also with a 22” blade. Matt estimates it’s circa 1930. This saw is also taper-ground, though not as much as the Disston. Matt refiled this one with 7 points, 0° rake and 0° fleam. That is a fairly standard filing for someone who is comfortable with rip saws. If you are a new sawyer, you might like 3° to 5° of rake to make the saw easier to manage.

I file my own saws and am good at it. But Matt is embarrassingly better. If you have some old saws that need to be refiled or restored, I highly recommend you drop Matt a line. I am a satisfied customer. Matt’s filing job will be an excellent foundation for me as I file these saws in the future.

Thanks Matt – not only for digging up these saws for me, but for making sure the “art manual” of saw filing isn’t lost. After Tom Law died, I was worried. Now, not so much.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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7 Responses to Panel Saws Sharpened by Matt Cianci

  1. Matt does a great job. He filed a few saws for me when I was getting started. It was a great way for me to know what a sharp saw feels like and what it can do. I highly recommend his sharpening.

  2. Chris – There is an outstanding 1897 tool catalog on line that has the best text about the fine points of buying hand saws. A must read.

    (From my 153 page list)
    Antique tool & machinery descriptions & pictures from the 1897 Charles Strelinger & Company Catalog.- The article on hand saws is the best everor go to: Hard copy of 1896 above catalogue – easier to read but the same information

  3. 4gallonbucket says:

    So what was your max length requirement for your tool chest? I take it that if the handles were not let-in that a 20″ would be the max for blade length?

    • lostartpress says:

      The chest can accommodate 25-1/2″. Each of these saws fits with about 1″ to spare.

      So I don’t have to chop their horns off.

  4. Josh Salomon says:

    Do you find that you ever use the panel saws in your home shop, or only on the road? I am trying to decide whether I would make much use of panel saws, so just wondering whether there are uses that I haven’t thought of besides working away from home.

    • lostartpress says:

      If panel saws weren’t so expensive, I’d probably recommend them for many woodworkers.

      But there are SO MANY awesome full-size saws out there for almost no money, that it would be a foolish recommendation.

      So no, buy the 26″ saws.

      • Tim Aldrich says:

        I agree shorter (20″-ish) panel saws are harder to find. My only option, because local flea markets are horrible around here, are online auctions. The prices of 20″ saws frequently go way past what I’m willing to pay for something I can’t see in person. As you mentioned, the longer saws can be had for a song and a dance. I took a “four finger” saw that wasn’t worth anything and chopped the plate to the length I wanted. I also turned a “sharp point” saw into a shorty, ground the dull teeth off and made a nice cross cut saw out of it.

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