Hand Tools Archive

final preliminary conclusion
Response To:
Maebiki vs. Frame saw ()

David Weaver
I added a handle to the small maebiki yesterday, which gives more options for reaching further down below the toothline to pull the saw. This is like changing hand position and rake angle on a dovetail saw (high back corner and strong handle rake and a dovetail saw can become difficult and aggressive quickly and needs to be filed accordingly).

This instantly brought the bite of the teeth to bear (i left the handle long to experiment) and a grip close to the tang is best where I've set the teeth). The filing feel that we all love with a saw (it's smooth through the cut with some resistance, but just the right amount, and without extra influence from the user) is present.

Iv'e cut poplar and cherry with it. It's not hard to learn to steer, but in use with wood in a vise and the need for accuracy, it's cleaner to start a resaw with another saw first and then allow the maebiki to cut a wider kerf through that - the saw is enough wider than a hand saw that it doesn't bind like you'd normally get swapping saws around doing this - it happily cuts right through the original line and widens it. Very nice.

It's usable. But, there's one thing you can't get around. Even with a smaller big saw like my small one, you will still be cutting a kerf somewhat wider than the saw plate , so you're probably slotting 8 hundredths or so of wood out of a cut (I could measure this - I will, actually) and this isn't that practical if you're resawing stock as you'll often bump up "I could've almost gotten 3 out of that instead of 2".

The kerf also dictates that you cannot get around actually doing a greater volume of work than a frame saw (.042" plate with minimal set). The toothline of a maebiki is deceiving - it's short, but you can push the saw forward almost out of the front of a workpiece and then pull it all the way through until just the nose is in the cut, and so on, so your cut length is longer than the tooth line. But removing the wide kerf is always going to mean more work, it may steer as easily ,but not easier, the frame saw can start its own cut, and if you were ever so lucky to have a willing person on the other side of a frame saw, you could really saw fast.

The maebiki will cut an 8" cherry board at about 2 inches per minute, and the frame saw 4. This difference may narrow slightly, but by the amount of physical work done, I wouldn't be capable of matching the frame saw without an exploding heart.

I'm anxious to find a log to try the other one. I think it will shine in wet wood. The frame saw betters it in dry wood work pretty easily.

One piece of advice for anyone who gets one of these without a handle - file the teeth as they are on the saw, and make a long handle first, find out where you like to grip it, and then trim. Gripping the tang on this saw made it so that your hand position is too high. Once I put the handle on it, I instantly was able to get more aggressive positions than needed and it made much more sense in use.

Sawing bulk amounts is a lot like planing (warren will probably agree). Lots of little things make the difference between being able to do it indefinitely or really wearing yourself out, and the cut rate is the same either way. For example, if a saw is so aggressive that it grabs at the very end of the cut, that seems innocent, but it is a shock to you (however small it may feel) and will leave your muscles burning fast. If the saw is just still sliding through the end of a cut, this fatigue doesn't occur. It didn't really take that long to find the sweet spot with the grip on the maebiki where the cut has that feel, but you're not pulling fishhooks through a board covered with eye bolts.

The frame saw is a wonderful thing for a one man shop with no band saw (and I've ruined far less wood with it). You have to tell yourself that you're blocking use off as exercise, but once it's set right, you could resaw everything you need for a large project (less planing is the result) in two morning sessions, or you can split the work up if you want to really make it exercise and push the pace for a half hour and be dragging on the floor when you're done.

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