A tip from Carl…

Last week I was up in Nashua for the Martin Donnelly Live Free or Die Tool Auction, which is just about the biggest damn tool event of the year. It was a great time, and in addition to spending  the day with fellow saw geek JoshClark, we had the distinct pleasure of meeting another great man…

I was talking with Josh, gazing over the parking lot sale and up walks an older gentleman. Josh welcomes him with, “Hey Carl!” and I’m immediately struck by his face….I recognize him from his picture.

“Carl? Carl Bilderback?” I say.

“Yes, that’s me.” Carl says.

“Wow! I’m a big fan of yours!” I say before I can stop myself.

“Well, nice to meet you…I didn’t know I had any fans!” Carl replies with a smile.

For those of you who don’t know the name, Carl Bilderback is a retired carpenter and woodworker who has written articles for Popular Woodworking Magazine, and is, among other things, an absolute saw guru. (Check this out…http://lostartpress.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/the-only-review-that-matters/)

I first heard of Carl a few years ago when Chris Schwarz revealed that Carl was the reason he started sharpening his own saws. I gotta meet this guy, I told myself. And it seems that last Friday was the day the saw gods intended that very meeting to happen.

Carl and I immediately hit it off. The saw talk started flowing like water, as Carl and I traded stories, techniques, and preferences. Carl told me all about his love of Panther saws and how he has developed a skill for rehabbing them for fellow saw lovers……for free!!!! He showed me an absolutely gorgeous 18 inch Panther that he had and regaled me with his theories on dating them by “type”, much like Stanley bench planes. I told Carl all about my new business and he listened intently, offering thoughts and advice as only a man with decades of experience can.

It was a true honor to get to talk to Carl and spend the day with him. I was most impressed by his knowledge and love of saws….he shared many great tips with me.

One of the coolest sawing tips that Carl shared was about lifting the saw in your back stroke to release the saw dust from the kerf and keep the cut line clear. Carl asserts that by simply lifting your saw up off the work on your return stroke, you give the swarf (saw dust) a chance to fall from the gullets and through the kerf onto the ground below, thusly preventing it from piling up on your cut line and obscuring it.

Hmmmmm, I thought….you know that sounds like it might work….but it also sounds like a bit of a hastle to do on every stroke. Carl stated that in about two minutes it becomes second nature. So as soon as I got a chance, I tried it out.

And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work like a charm!!!!

It doesn’t take much….just lift the saw slightly so that the teeth float above the cut as you draw it back toward your body. I might be wrong, but it also seems to allow the saw to cut faster, as you’re clearing the gullets more. And this neat little trick works on all saws…whether back saws or hand saws.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Thanks Carl! :)

-Matt

3 Responses to “A tip from Carl…”

  1. Steve Jones says:

    It’s a wise man (or woman) who listens to Carl on a wide variety of topics. He may also be the world’s premier Atkins aficionado.

  2. Lance says:

    I think the normites call this an “orbital stroke saw”, and pay extra for it! :-)

    I’ve tried it a couple times, and it seems to make the start of the next stroke a little more aggressive, thus faster. I haven’t had as much luck with it clearing the cutline of sawdust. I still have to blow on it frequently to see where i’m going.

    I was at LFOD as well. Had an eye out for Josh since I knew he usually goes; sorry that I missed running into you guys. Maybe at the next one!

    -Lance

  3. Mike Mitchell says:

    Great tip on picking up the saw. Chris Schwarz (I can call him Chris now; he said so in a recent post) recommends it in one of his sawing video’s and I’ve found it to be effective at clearing the line just ahead of the cut enough to see where you are going.


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