Re: Dovetailing with Lee Valley Saw

Derek Cohen (in Perth, Australia)
I have several dovetail saws from different makers. It is always a source of amazement for me that the saws from LV and LN cut as well as they do, since they produce so many saws that individual fine tuning must be so much more difficult than saws from the smaller custom houses.

I thought that my LV (14 tpi) was perfect out of the box, the 20 tpi version had a tad too little set, and the LN (15 tpi) had a tad too much set. I added set to the LV and I lightly stoned the LN. They are all wonderful saws - slightly different characteristics, but all work smoothly and are comfortable in the hand.

About a month ago I sat sharpening backsaws over a weekend at the Perth Wood Show as part of a live exhibition. Two of the saws were dovetail saws of my own, one with a new plate, and the other a restoration. Both plates were completely retoothed by hand, the first 16 tpi and the second 15 tpi. Both were given a 5 degree rake. I decided to leave them without any set as dovetails do not go down deeply. It is such a shallow cut.

My experience of the saws was disappointing. Both felt like they had teeth that were too vertical (and yet I know that I have saws, such as the LN, with zero pitch, and these work very well ... more powerful, but still cut well). The saws cut beautifully - just felt hard to push.

As a result, I added a small amount of set to the teeth of both saws. The result was that the saws were transformed. They lightened up in the kerf, and sliced through the wood, tracking perfectly.

This is the reason I am in awe of LV and LN. It can take time to fine tune a backsaw, which has a lot of small teeth to fine tune. No doubt a few will escape the attention of quality control. That so few do is why I stand in wonder. Learn to recognise the symptoms and do the fix yourself - eventually you should be sharpening your own saws anyway.

Regards from Perth


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