Make It - Wooden Bow Saw




Introduction: Make It - Wooden Bow Saw


This a wooden bow saw that I made using some Beechwood and a parts kit from Gramercy. The kit includes blades, brass pins and the wooden handles; everything else is up to you!

Check out the build video if you'd like to see it come alive in 8 minutes or less...

Step 1: Cut Some Wood, Then Cut It Some More.

I ripped down the three pieces of beechwood I needed on the table saw. The two side pieces are identical and the center section is a lot smaller. I the two side pieces and attached them together using a handy trick that works great if you don't have any double sided tape handy. Attach a piece of painters tape to each piece and then glue the two pieces of tape to each other with CA glue. I used an activator to cure the CA glue immediately. They are now seriously stuck together! I attached a paper template to the recently joined pieces of wood and cut out the rough shape on the bandsaw. My blade is on its last leg so it burnt the wood a little (lot).

I cleaned up the edges on the belt sander before prying the wood apart with a knife. Once the tape is removed, you'd never know they were stuck together.

Step 2: Shaping the Saw

The tops of the side pieces taper in and that's the next step! I scribed two lines on each piece and removed the bulk of the material at the bandsaw. I then put the pieces in the vise and cleaned them up with a hand plane. A sanding block or file could also have been used. The bottom also gets a couple curves here and there which are easily done with various sanding devises.

Step 3: Mortise and Tenon, Then Stick Some Things Together.

I marked out the location for the mortises on the side pieces and removed the bulk of the material at the drill press. I then cleaned them up with a sharp chisel and a mallet to make two rectangular holes. I marked the tenons and cut them using a flat top blade on the table saw with a sled. Lots of shallow passes until the fit was perfect.

This next step is going to upset the old and grumpy people who are stuck in their ways... I THEN GLUED THE THREE PIECES TOGETHER!!!!:( :( :( :( :( I did that so I could sculpt the area where the pieces meet and there is honestly no downside to doing this. The saw still tensions just fine! Anyways... I clamped the center section to the bench to keep it flat, glued the side pieces onto that and clamped the whole thing up tight.

While the glue was drying on the saw, I used two part epoxy to join the brass pins to the wooden handles.

Step 4: Continue Sculpting, Drill Some Holes and Apply Some Finish.

I used an assortment of hand planes, chisels, files and sandpaper to round over the edges and sculpt the three pieces into one continuous bit of beauty. Then I drilled out the holes for the brass pins and applied several coats of danish oil.

Step 5: Tightening Thingy

To tighten the blade, a string is wrapped around the opposite end and twisted up. This makes the center section a pivot point and pulls the blade into tension. It's simple, it's genius, how can we complicate it? Easy!

The plans call for a simple wooden pin that is stuck between the string and you use that to wrap the string. It works great and there is no good reason to do otherwise. Now let me show you how I didn't do that.

Using some beautiful ebony pieces I had laying around, I created an eye shaped piece with a hole in the center that will be wound up in the string. To keep the string from slipping off, I filed a shallow groove into the edge using a round rasp. Then I made a stick to slide into the hole by rounding over another piece of ebony on the router table. In my opinion, my tightening mechanism looks cooler and also allows the string to be turned in half rotation increments.

Step 6: Assembly and Test Cut!

Now we come to the most rewarding part! Seeing it all come together. I started by putting the handles in place and at this stage, it doesn't matter which one goes where. I used some waxed thread, typically used for leather work, since It's all I had on hand. I wrapped the string loosely around the saw 4 time and added a couple inches of slack to that. I tied the piece of string to itself so I had a big loop. Then I wrapped it around again and made sure it was evenly laid out. I placed the eye shaped piece in between the pieces of string and put a few twists into it to hold it in place. Then I stuck the stick through to keep it from unraveling. I placed the blade in the grooves of the brass pins and continued to wrap the string until the blade felt properly tight.

I did some test cuts on some scrap walnut and it works great! When the saw isn't in use, it's best to release the tension so the wood remains springy and no undue stress is put on the blade or string.

Thanks for following along! Take some time to watch the video if you'd like to see the whole thing come together in under 10 minutes!

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    2 years ago

    Can you give me a drawing of the plan?


    6 years ago

    Windlass not doing much as you glued the stretcher to the arms. Pretty sure it's all supposed to break down into arts when you're not using it. Otherwise a really nice project. Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 5 years ago

    I second dart70ca. The is an excellent instructable with a critical and fatal error.

    The stretcher (the middle piece between the two arms that hold the blade) should not be glued to the two arms. Gluing this joint prevents the arms from pivoting at the ends of the stretchet in order to thighten the blade. Without this pivoting action, you will likely eventually break the top of the arms because the lower part of the arms are not allowed to move when the top of the atms are tightened with the windlass.

    Where to find blades?

    Tools for working wood carries the saw blades. They also have a kit that has 3 blades and the brass pins that hold the blade between the two turning handles / knobs. The kit is very reasonable. I have bought two of these kits for my bowsaws. I have not been able to find the blades elswhere. They also have a printable template for the bow saw wood parts at no cost.

    Many Kind Regards . . . Allen


    6 years ago

    A very neat project you've made very well.

    The Tightening Thingy is called a Spanish Windlass but you did not say anything about the blades. I made some for my Bow saw a few years back from 1/4" Bandsaw Blade stock, with a fine saw pitch, they work very well.