Roubo Frame Saw Eat Your Heart Out

There is an alternative for woodworkers to the Roubo style frame saw for medium scale resawing and sawing of smaller boards. Introducing the Woodmizer -1, haha. Its a 450mm rip saw with about 3tpi, made by MIG welding a tang to a western panel saw.

I’ve felt the need for a smaller saw for ripping boards. Especially as the piece of timber that you’re milling becomes lighter, a full scale maebiki-oga becomes very hard to use, simply too much saw for the cut. While I would love to have a frame saw I feel that a pull saw offers several advantages in comparison.

First, a pull saw is much lighter and easier to use when the orientation of the cut is less than perfectly plumb. Second, the tooth line is shorter, faster to sharpen, and fits the natural length of stroke for a single sawyer. Frame saws have a definite advantage of allowing two person use, which creates good efficiencies, but most of us are working alone, and three feet of saw blade is a stretch to use evenly.  Third, there is no problem running a pull saw through a wide cant, where a frame saw can only cut material that fits between the frame. The wider the frame the more skill would be required to make sawing smooth and comfortable.

As it turns out I cut  ridiculously aggressive tooth geometry on this saw. Over the course of trying it out I’ve basically tuned it back to a neutral rake angle by back beveling the teeth with a micro bevel. Any saw will need tuning to the specific species and quality of wood you are sawing. In my case the limiting factor in milling pine is the knots. The fastest saw is not the most aggressive saw, its the smoothest saw that you can keep running with ease and rhythm in the cut. If you waste a lot of time hung up pulling through knots in tortured jerking fashion its not a fast saw. I had to push the tooth set way way out, but the kerf is still about 1/16″.

MIG welding butt edged sheet steel is not easy. My first try at the tang weld quickly failed. Forge welding would be much preferable, but using MIG meant that I didn’t spoil the saw plate temper and it didn’t need much correction of plate flatness.

Somebody asked about my preference for an ink line over a chalk line. An ink line serves as more than just a snap line, its the pot you dip sumisashi in for layout. Plus, its not that hard to make your own.

The ink throws off the line better than chalk, and sumi ink is a rich and satisfying black colour, without worry of it fading or rubbing off.

The sumitsubo is a fiddly tool, I’m still learning to keep the ink the right consistency and the wadding just the right degree of wet. Sometimes I find the sumisashi quite difficult to give a good line, especially when marking with the grain. In the end the ink pot, bamboo brush, and Japanese carpenters square have been designed to work really well together and its worth the difficulties to learn their use.

My latest Japanese franken-saw greatly exceeded expectations. I know just enough about saws now to be dangerous. The handle is a little low to the tooth line but I wanted to keep the tang weld as long as possible for strength. But if you’re looking for a cheap way to put a saw together that can handle material out to about 12″ (although fletch cut at 12″ might make a bitch out of your kerf, quartersawing is more stable), its a viable option. The perfect saw in this range for green timber in my mind is a bit larger with a thicker plate, but for such an ugly saw it does still work, and at a fraction of the cost for putting a Roubo style frame saw together. What do you think?


7 thoughts on “Roubo Frame Saw Eat Your Heart Out”

  1. Boy, you weren’t kidding about the knots, but that blue stain pine sure came out beautifully and that saw is funky (in a good way)!

    Ha! Love it! Any interest in braising-on some carbide teeth?

    1. Thanks Steven! Unfortunately I’m busy chasing sad leaves (dollars) at the moment doing handyman work, changing toilet seats and crawling under sinks to replace faucets. I have an archtop molding to make that should be a good bit of fun, I’ve never dug into circular work for finish carpentry before, and now I love the ellipse.

  2. During my visits to your shop, I got to try out one of your huge pull saws. This one seems a bit more manageable, and still has that cool look to it.

    I was worried about how aggressive you made the teeth, but sounds like you found a good way to correct them without having to start over.

    Great to see you posting more again! I’m hoping you might consider starting the meetup again, once things warm up a bit.

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