Cherry Tool Handles, Part One: Backsaw Handle


Having found myself with enough (free)Black Cherry to replace every handle on every tool I own, I began with the neediest–an old Disston backsaw that has spent years in the spare parts bin. The broken Apple handle was/is usable but unsightly, and it was the first candidate for replacement. If I had known how easy the handle was to make, I would have made one years ago.

While the saw rested in a miracle product called Evaporust, I researched how to make a replacement handle with a Google search. The best post I found was the one that advised the simplest approach–just trace a handle that you like on graph paper, and copy it. I traced the remaining piece of the old handle, and went with it.

The handle itself was split from a much larger chunk of Cherry, and then planed to size. I rough cut the shape with a bowsaw I also made from Cherry and Maple. Then I made my first mistake–I cut out the back end of the handle first, and when I went to rough out the inside of the handle, I promptly snapped off the top. It glued back on easily, but the note to self is rough out the middle first, and then the outside.

With that repaired, I moved to final shaping and finishing. I started out with the universally suggested tool, a rasp, but found it both tedious and seriously slow. After an hour of that torture I said screw it, and pulled out my roll of spoon carving tools. That decision saved the proto handle from the firewood pile, and myself from much more work. A good Swedish Sloyd knife can remove wood much faster than a rasp, and is ideal for the curves on the handle.

The fitting of the handle to the saw blade was simple enough–cut a slot for the saw blade, and mortice out for the iron back. The finish here is super blonde shellac. My last criticism is that the connecting section where the saw blade joins the handle should be beefier, but the function of the saw is unaffected. Overall, for a first attempt at saw handle making it is acceptable, and should last through many years of sawing.

Author: southernfusionfood

Writer, Woodworker, and Happy Eater

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