What is the process for sharpening a crosscut saw?

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Home Improvement

Crosscut saws are large tools used for cutting down trees and sawing trunks into pieces. They come in one-man and two-man versions, with the latter having wooden handles on either end attached to steel sockets. While crosscut saws feature large, deeply cut teeth, they still require regular sharpening as their blades and teeth are typically constructed of soft steel.

If you own a less expensive crosscut saw with rough, machine-ground teeth, you can sharpen them to improve their performance. To do so, purchase a 7.8 inch-long (19.8 centimeters) three-square saw file with slightly rounded edges to produce a slight curve in the base of the teeth, preventing the blade from cracking.

Secure the saw in a saw vise as close to the base of the teeth as possible, minimizing vibrations. If the saw is in poor condition, file back and forth with the saw file to trim the teeth until every tooth has had its tip sliced off, leaving one or two short teeth acceptable. Then, file every tooth until they are all the same shape, using three or four strokes per tooth. Guide the file between the teeth at a 60-degree angle, filing the back and front of two teeth each time and lifting the file on each return.

It’s important to note that crosscut saws are not usually carefully constructed, designed for rough use rather than fine carpentry. As a result, new crosscut saws will typically have machine marks and burrs on their blades and teeth. It’s a good idea to polish and sharpen them with a saw file even before they have a chance to become blunt.


1. What equipment do I need to sharpen a crosscut saw?

You will need a saw vise, a file, a jointer or mill file, a saw set, and a saw sharpening guide. You may also need a flat file, a round file, and a feather file depending on the condition of your saw.

2. How often should I sharpen my crosscut saw?

It depends on how often you use your saw and the type of wood you are cutting. As a general rule, you should sharpen your saw every 5 to 10 hours of use or when you notice a decrease in cutting efficiency.

3. How do I know if my crosscut saw needs to be sharpened?

You will notice a decrease in cutting efficiency and the saw will start to bind or veer off course. You may also see burn marks on the wood or notice that the saw is making a lot of noise.

4. What is the correct angle to sharpen a crosscut saw?

The angle will depend on the type of saw you have. Generally, a crosscut saw will be sharpened at a 60-degree angle with a bevel of 25 degrees.

5. What is the correct order to sharpen a crosscut saw?

You should start by jointing the teeth to ensure they are all the same height. Next, use the saw sharpening guide to file each tooth at the correct angle. Finally, use the saw set to adjust the set of each tooth.

6. How do I file the teeth on a crosscut saw?

You should use a smooth, consistent motion to file each tooth. Start at the heel of the tooth and work your way to the tip. Make sure to file each tooth the same number of strokes to ensure they are all the same length.

7. How do I know when the teeth are sharp enough?

The teeth should be sharp enough when they can easily cut through a piece of wood without binding or veering off course. You can also use a magnifying glass to check for any burrs or rough spots on the teeth.

8. Can I sharpen a crosscut saw by hand?

Yes, it is possible to sharpen a crosscut saw by hand, but it can be difficult and time-consuming. Using a saw sharpening guide can help ensure that each tooth is filed at the correct angle and length.

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