Introduction: Make a Bow Saw (aka Frame, Turning)

About: Happy in wood shavings YouTube: Patreon:

Making a bow saw is easy with a few basic woodworking tools and skills - why not have a go!

Two videos are available. One with full details plus a shot of the plans, the other just showing the build

Free plans are available to download from my website:

You'll need some hardwood - I've used European beech (fagus sylvatica) and Dark Red Meranti (shorea spp.),

some non-elastic cord, a couple of steel pins, and a band saw blade (good way to use up broken ones).

Step 1: Arm Mortises

Layout the mortises as per the plans you downloaded ( ), or to your own design

Chop them out - I've made them through mortises, which I feel maximises the frame rigidity

Doing this before shaping the arms makes it easier to clamp whilst chopping!

Step 2: Stretcher Tenons

Layout the tenons on the ends of the stretcher

Saw the tenon shoulders and cheeks

Fit the tenon thickness to the mortise at each end

Step 3: Mate Mortise & Tenon Joints With a Curve (Optional)

This optional step makes for a strong hinge connection for transferring tension to the blade

Mark identical shallow curves at the shoulders of the tenons, and entrance face of the mortises, using a pair of compasses

Pare the curves with sharp chisels

Saw the tenons to width, making them narrower at the ends so that they can rotate in the joint

Step 4: Shape the Arms and Stretcher

As an absolute minimum, you need to shape a notch near to the top of the arms, to prevent the tension cord from sliding off

You also need to bore the holes through the width of the lower arms. I also cut a slot here, which allows for a sprung grip on the saw's blade handles

Ideally shape a comfortable grip handle too, and why not include a little decoration as well

A coping saw, rasps, and files will handle all the basic shaping

Step 5: Make Blade Handles

Turn blade handles on a lathe

Alternatively, glue a slim dowel through a thick dowel to make a very simple but functional blade handle

Slit the slim section, to take the blade

Step 6: Attach a Blade

Install the blade handles in the assembled frame, and drill blade attachment holes

Cut a length of blade the width of the frame (internal size)

Mark for, and drill attachment holes in the blade

Install the blade and secure with steel pins

Step 7: Tension the Blade

Tie a loop of cord around the upper arms, sitting in the notches

Twist cord around and insert the tension toggle (simply planed up from a length of hardwood)

Use the toggle to continue twisting the cord until the correct tension is achieved, and allow it to lock against the stretcher

Step 8: Finished!

You're ready to saw!

To protect your tool, why not give it a coat of boiled linseed oil.

Thanks for reading my instructable. If you build a frame saw, using these instructions and plans, please do let me know, and post a photo if you can