I feel a little stupid posting this as I cannot believe I haven’t figured it out before. Likely it’s so obvious that no one thought to tell me.
When using a flush-cutting saw (a saw with zero set), I always noticed that the first cut was relatively easy. Then each subsequent cut became more difficult.
“Hmmm,” I thought. “Perhaps the blade is heating up in use. And that heat is swelling the wood fibers in the cut, increasing friction
And while that swelling might be true to a small degree, something else was going on: a lack of lube.
Right before I put any saw away in my tool chest or hang it on the wall, I wipe its blade with oil to protect it from rust.
So when I pick the saw up the next time, it’s lubed. The first cut I make with it is full lubricated. Each subsequent cut removes more of that lube.
Now when I use my flush-cutting saw, I wipe its blade with an oily rag after every cut. And miracle of miracles, it works like crazy.
— Christopher Schwarz
28 thoughts on “Wipe Your Way to Better Flush-cutting”
I say! When found, make a note of, so: noted!
Just out of curiosity, have you tried wiping the saw blade with the block of paraffin instead? Just wondering, given that that works so well on a plane sole …
Works for any other saw use I do, or can think of. Let the jokes begin.
The teeth on those really tend to clog as well.
Oh how I want to make a lube joke….but alas knowing LAP’s disdain for anything improper (unless it has to do with goats) I will with hold my sarcasm.
It’s amazing how well all passingly sharp saws seem to cut with a little wax or oil on them. I knew a guy who always used a bar of soap, that worked too! Irish spring worked the best he said.
What oil works best?
Almost any oil. I use camilia and jojoba.
I learned from Pete Galbert to cut perpendicular to the wedge direction, which eliminates the binding of the saw that the wedge creates. Also I’m not sure of the set on your saw, but flush cut saws with set on one side rather than no set at all tend to go a little easier.
Yup. Cutting perpendicular to the wedge helps. But it doesn’t eliminate the friction/binding in my experience. All the flush cut saws I’ve experienced have set on one side. Usually the the brand’s label on the saw should face up while cutting so the set is facing up and into the waste.
The addition of the oil after every cut is what makes the final difference with me.
Excellent point on lubing the small saw. A couple years ago, getting a Forest Service certification on using 2 man saw I learned, just like the chainsaw, it needed to be lubed, regularly. I’m slow but i can learn.
That’s a really great idea. Like you I should have thought of that years ago. I’m going to do that from now on. Also, what brand is that saw in the photo?
I don’t know the brand (I don’t read Japanese). But I got it from Lee Valley.
Choose the option “single edge.”
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
This make so much sense. It seems like the glue tends to cause a little bind as well and I bet this would help clean that off as well. Definitely a head slapping moment for me. Add lube! I do that with all my other saws, why haven’t I been doing it for flush cut saws?
I use the ‘rag in a can’ with leftover (new) 10w hydraulic oil for all saws, planes and even chisels. Can’t see my comment as I type so who knows what I am about to post…
I oil my tools couple times a month when putting them back in the chest. I use wax on my planes and saws as need when using them. I use the denim tuna can system it works well.
Paraffin wax works well too, and isn’t oily.
I have always used wax to lubricate and maintain my tools. Is oil better?
I recall a story by Roy Underhill about Thomas the apprentice looking for sheep tallow for the same purpose. Roy recommended checking at the meat counter in any grocery store since they normally throw away sheep fat and you can get it for free. Then render it to get the tallow. I tried it and it works.
Roy Underhill had a story about Thomas the apprentice’s search for sheep tallow for the same purpose. Roy recommended checking at the supermarket meat counter for sheep fat since they normally throw it away and you can get it for free. Then render it to get the tallow.
And here I was thinking it was the swelling of my confidence after nailing the first cut that was causing the next one to suck.
Well, perhaps a combination of factors in my case. 😅
Same , Same!
I’ve got to try this today!
15 years of woodworking and a few flesh wounds where the saw comes out the other side, and here I thought the saw was loading with wood as it got harder to saw through.
Thanks for a tip we all should have figured out a long time ago.
A few years ago a put together a “Rag In A Can Oiler” which I believe is a Paul Sellers thing. Its simple, compact and works like a charm for quick blade and plane sole lubrication..
I also use the “rag in a can” promoted by Paul Sellers.
He has a video about it and a nice one titled “bad vibrations”
Caution: don’t use linseed oil which is self igniting.
I read the title of this post and smacked myself in the forehead. I mean, I have a container of lamb tallow on my workbench for greasing other saws. Why don’t I grease the flush cut saw? So I feel your feeling of stupidity. And appreciate your sharing it.
1pt awarded for gratuitous use of both Wipe and Flush in a post.
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