I’m the first to admit that despite my love of the outdoors and the woods, I’m relatively unschooled in the fine art of woodworking compared to some. Natural wood has a life and character unlike any other material, and it’s hard to ignore those who make this craft their pursuit.
I love to listen and learn from passionate people, and this past week, I had the pleasure of learning how to make a classic frame saw from Steven Der-Garabedian (see his work at blackwalnutstudio.ca). Steve is absolutely fanatical about woodworking, and it comes through in every action and every word he utters. Not only is he patient and accessible, but he has that other quality that distinguishes good craftsmen from good teachers—his love of his art is infectious.
I certainly learned a lot from him during the course of a day, planning, hand-planing and joining this traditional saw using mostly traditional tools (many of which, like his box plane, were in turn hand-made).
At the end of the day, I had not only a beautiful saw that I will continue to personalize and refine, but a better appreciation for tools that are hand crafted in every detail. The blocks of wood in these pictures look like they just came from the factory, but I am proud to say that they’re that way because of the care I took in measuring, the sharpness of my blade, and the guidance of a good, experienced teacher. The mortises are hand chiseled, and I got a strange delight from fitting, adjusting, and re-trying the fit until the pieces worked just the way they were supposed to.
This version is going to be very useful for fine work at home, but I plan to try variations that I can make in the woods with limited tools and improvised materials. The results will hopefully look a bit better than my field repair on a Sawvivor.
There are many plans and online tutorials that will allow you to build similar designs, but I highly recommend taking the time to sit down with someone that is passionate and experienced. Asking questions during the build process will give you answers and insight that you can never get from following a tutorial.