Turning Saw – Roughing Out the Frame

While I was waiting for my 1” mortise chisel to arrive to complete the dummy frame, I decided to start on another project.  The dummy slats had left me with a surplus of hickory that I decided to use for something I had been wanting to build – a turning saw.  For those unfamiliar with this tool, a turning saw is a type of small bowsaw that performs many of the functions of the bandsaw.  It has a thin, tensioned blade something like a coping saw, but is larger, generally in the 12” range.

Tools for Working Wood has a wonderful turning saw for sale, but for about $150 – a little more than I wanted to spend.  However, they also provide the parts and free plans to allow you to build your own, and this is a project that should be within the skill range of most woodworkers.  In addition to the parts and plans, there is an excellent page of construction notes to make your life much easier.  Kudos to Joel and his team at TFWW for providing this excellent reference.

I started by ordering the set of pins and three blades from TFWW.  Since I have a lathe, I would make my own handles.  I then downloaded and printed out the plans.  Remember to use legal-size paper and turn scaling off to get a properly scaled set of plans.  That said, the plans are excellent quality and very easy to work from.  One page is even a set of templates to cut out the cheeks and stretcher, hence the need for proper scale.
Turning Saw 1
I cut out the templates for the cheeks and stretcher, and attached them to the selected pieces of stock with spray adhesive.  It’s important to use straight-grained stock, as these pieces will be subject to a considerable amount of stress.  Once dry, I cut the pieces to shape using my scrollsaw.  A bandsaw with a narrow blade would work as well, but mine was set up with a wide blade, and I didn’t want to change it out.
Turning Saw 2
Once the pieces are cut out, remove the templates and you’re ready to go.  My favorite way to remove patterns attached with spray adhesive is through the use of a heat gun.  These are more useful in the workshop than many give them credit for.  Not only can they strip paint or thaw pipes, but they can even (with judicious use) accelerate the curing of epoxy in cold conditions (judicious, I said).  A quick wipe-down with mineral spirits removes the rest of the residue.

If your cutouts are a little off, as mine are in places, don’t worry about it.  There’s really very little that’s critical about this design.  Sure, you want the two pin holes to line up as well as possible, but even that’s not as big a deal as you would think.  Remember, the whole thing is just a way to tension a blade and let you hold it while you cut.  It’s certainly not rocket science or laser optics.  You can even out most mistakes later.

Next time we’ll turn these parts from rough chunks to finished components.  Also, we’ll make the knobs and winding toggle.  Stay tuned!


3 responses to “Turning Saw – Roughing Out the Frame

  1. Good project choice. I really need to make one of these. Looking forward to following your progress on it.

  2. I need to make one of these myself. I’ve always wanted a Bowsaw.

    I will have to build one this spring when the weather premits so I can go out to my shop when it’s warm!


  3. I’m looking forward to watching the progress.
    Have you considered making a making frame saw for re-sawing.

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