I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a frame saw and kit from Blackburn tools. The saw is 48″ long and is 3 1/2″ ppi.
I ordered it to be sharpened, and the holes drilled. Boy, is it sharp. The kit is of high quality. The metal is thick and strong and the eyebolt is the best I’ve seen. Everything about it sings quality right down to the thick slotted screws. The workmanship is outstanding.
I made a temporary frame out of structural pine. The frame calls to be made from straight grained timber and pine is straight grained so it shouldn’t cause any problems unless you over tighten it. If you do that, then the likelihood of the frame exploding before your eyes is very high. You’re not doing yourself any favour by not building a frame out of quality timber. Seeing the kit is of quality, it would only do it justice to have the frame the same. However, it isn’t necessary.
There’s a metal plate behind the frame where the screw pushes against it to tighten the blade. Without the metal plating the screw would chew up the wood. To tighten the saw blade, you turn the eye bolt and to really crank it up you use something as a lever inserted in to the eyebolt. However, I caution you not to over tighten it. As mentioned above, you risk snapping the frame. If you don’t snap it, you will put the frame in twist and therefore the blade will be in twist. I just tightened mine by hand until there was enough tension on the blade to stop it from wandering too much.
I forgot to mention inserting the small metal bracket into the two holes before tightening the blade. This holds the saw blade in place. The plans call the arms to be 1 5/8″ thick. The brackets that the arms are inserted into are that thickness and it’s a good idea not to go too much under 1 5/8″ so the bracket won’t twist when you tighten the blade. If it twists, then the blade will be in twist.
The blade teeth are 3.5 ppi which makes the cut quick. Anything less would be impossible to use and anything greater will take longer to resaw.
Whilst in use, the bench skated over the floor. My English style workbench is heavy, but my floor is tiled which makes my bench slide even when I’m shooting end grain. I presume the fix is simple and I’ll get around to it soon enough, but it’s not unheard the same happening to others when using this frame saw. One solution is to butt the bench up against something immoveable.
Ah, the million dollar question; how did it perform? Well, I found it to be quite hard for one man because of its length. I’ve seen Shannon Rogers use it fine but for me it’s difficult. When I had help the saw sung through the cut, but on my own I was out of breath and had a real hard time pushing it through the cut until I slanted the wood excessively and then ploughed through it. I then experimented by sawing a kerf around the perimeter of the wood. That seemed to work. The wood didn’t need to be slanted in the vice. I also found that I cannot use the whole blade on my own. I’m now thinking if I should place an order for a 32″, but that’s another AU$420 it would cost me. It’s not cheap if you’re living outside the US.
The first time round I went off the line halfway through. The second time the cut was right on the money.
Oh, and don’t forget to decorate your frame to give it that bit of historical authenticity. My carving sucks but I will get the hang of it one of these days.
There is definitely a learning curve you must go through, like anything in the craft. I guess it always comes down to practice and experimentation. Initially, I eye had the eye bolt facing me, but then I found it painful on my stomach as it hit it on every stroke. So I flipped the saw blade round and not the whole saw so it would still cut on the push stroke.
I’m really disappointed in it not being as easy as I thought it would be and the fact I got the longest one on Shannon’s recommendation. I will not dismiss it as I’m sure he went through the same learning curve which is why he has two or three different size frame saww. Education is never free, it always comes with a hefty price tag.