Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Saw Sharpening

In time management, "saw sharpening" is a metaphor for taking time to get organized. I remember once being too busy to hire an assistant. You know the feeling, when you're struggling with inadequate tools but just can't stop to fix it.

I was nearly thirty years old when I realized that kitchen knives have to be sharpened more often than just at Thanksgiving. In my youth I remember seeing my father's elaborate knife-sharpening ritual only at Thanksgiving.

Last weekend I was cleaning up some fallen trees on the trail to the maple trees - it will be time to tap the maples soon. I have a love-hate relationship with the chain saw. We never seem to agree about when and how to start and how long to keep working. And besides, it's heavy and noisy. So, whenever possible, I use a bow saw.

Three bow saws have found their way into my life. I honestly have no idea when or how. But I do know I've never sharpened them. A year or more ago, with the best of intentions, I did pick up a couple of replacement blades at Agway for $4.89 each. It turns out there are different kinds of blades. I don't know why I didn't think of that. The kind I bought is described as "straight tooth" and claims to "retain razor-like cutting edge long after conventional blades have been sharpened 3 to 4 times." The blade now on two of my saws is "course tooth" - "For the toughest cutting jobs..."

Anyway, with some WD-40 to soften the rust, I got the old blade off. (Notice the broken tooth.) While it was off, I spray painted the saw a nice blood red. I put the new blade on. At one end there's a wing-nut and an obvious tensioning device. I have no idea how "tense" a bow saw blade should be so I just tightened it as much as I could by hand. It works like a charm. In ten strokes I can cut about twice as far as I can with one of the saws whose blade has not yet been changed.


Anonymous said...

I just happened to run across your blog when I was doing research for an article on sharpening bow saws of all things. It sounds like you are a corporate refugee also. It also sounds like you are at peace. I've never been at peace in the country even though I've had a successful farm and business for 10years and now I am making a living as a writer. The stillness and quiet is starting to unnerve me somewhat. Anyway, your little story about the saw was really cool and honest. I hope you are happy and stay that way. Good luck, Jim Gober-my website is

Dave said...

I enjoyed the blog and comment #1. I have an old bowsaw and am looking for information on sharpening it. Can't find much. Maybe I'll just get a new blade.