Until now, I have always instructed students in my saw building classes to cut the saw blade slot in their tote free hand. This is usually the most intimidating step for novice sawyers to complete, as they are nervous about cutting askew and possibly ruining their saw. Because I normally teach class like a heartless dictator, I simply call them names, break their spirit to resist, and make them do it anyway.
But no more. I have acquiesced. I must be getting soft in my old age.
So, from now on, I will offer students the safe way out: a jig.
Ironically, this is how I first started to slot saw totes years ago when I started making saws. Its quite simple. All you really need is a pull saw and some scraps…
Before you begin its still a good idea to mark the blade slot with a cutting/marking gauge. Then lay the tote on the shim piece and make sure the teeth of the pull saw line up exactly with the marked line. Plane down the shim if its too tall, or shim with paper if its too short.
Make sure the bench hook and shim are cinched down tight and slowly kerf in the slot with the saw running lightly back and forth along the layout line.
I simply run the saw back and forth with hand pressure. Make sure you keep the plate flat and true on the bench hook and hold the tote firmly…
When I’m about halfway through the cheek I finish up by clamping the tote in my face vise and saw the slot to final depth by hand. The slot is deep enough at this point to guide the saw without fear or running afoul. And voila: a perfectly true blade slot…
Its pretty idiot proof….believe me (I’m an idiot).
This ones for you, Del.