How to Sharpen a Hand Saw Using Taper File!

how to sharpen a hand saw

Carpenters or woodworkers are nothing without different types of saws. One such very basic sort is the hand saw. These are been around from the very beginning of carpentry. And so is the urge of keeping them super sharp and finding ways on sharpening manually.

There are various types of hand saws counting two men felling, crosscut, tenon and what not. Of course, these come with a lot of similarities and dissimilarities.

But one common point of each of these hand saws is that they need to be properly sharp for working well. And with that note, today’s topic was born.

How to Sharpen a Hand Saw: DIY From Start to End

So, to the question on how to sharpen saw blades by handand is it actually possible, I have an answer.

Yes, this is pretty much possible if you have certain rudimentary tools around. I’m assuming this is for novices entering the work arena. So, keeping that in mind let me give you a very easy-going sharpening tutorial with the most minimal tools available. Let’s give it a go!

Things You Need

You are going to need a saw set first and foremost. These are used to reset the teeth arrangement.

Next, you’ll have to gather one or two files for sharpening. Now for the maximum cases taper files are a great choice. You have to decide the file size based on what teeth number your saw has. It refers to the number of teeth coming in every inch of a saw.


This might feel an optional thing to many. However, I consider it a very important tool for sharpening hand saw.

Do you know the slight difference between good and perfect? In hand saw sharpening, this difference comes for using this brilliant stability tool. Yes, saw vise can be that difference.

It’s really important that the saw plate is as steady as possible when you are attempting to joint and file. Who’s going to help you with the steadiness here? A SAW VISE!

Now there are two options you can choose from. Either simply make a go-to saw vise for the task. Or just simply grab one new or antique saw vise from the market.

With a shop-made version, you can get a minimal wooden jaw clamping workbench design or a complex setup with screws. A clamp is a must-have part of almost every hand saw vise, however.

To keep it affordable you can simply buy one antique cast iron hand saw vise. Don’t expect them to be as durable as shop made vise. But they are good for irregular times. If you can invest in a new one, definitely go for it.

General Idea You Need

There are a couple of things you need to know about before the actual process. This might feel unnecessary to a few of you who have an idea about the basic terms. But I’m worried about the newcomers who are completely unaware of terms related to hand saw. Experts can scroll down to the sharpening process. While the ones who don’t know what tooth count or pitch is, keep on reading!

Pitch or Tooth Count

Not every hand saw comes with the same number of teeth. So, to keep that point checked when there’s a need, the term pitch is used.

In easy words, pitch is the number of teeth that sits on every inch of a hand saw. This number is also important to determine what size of the file you need for sharpening.

The teeth number per inch is usually referred with PPI. It’s the short form for points per inch. Sometimes we use TPI or teeth per inch as well. A saw plate probably has this information.

Geometry for Sharpening

Now that you know about the pitch let’s quickly scan about two different tooth configurations used for hand saw blade sharpening. You can use rip or crosscut configurations here. There’s also a middle version that comes with both rip and cross-cut shape. It’s known as Sash tooth configuration.

Choose the Right File Size

Okay so now you can tell easily about the PPI or TPI of your hand saw, right? Let’s find out quickly what size of file you’ll need for the sharpening process. Follow the pointers for choosing a file size without being afraid of adjusting according to your flexibility needs.

  • For a 4 to 5.5 PPI, go for taper file sizing 7 inches.
  • 6 to 7 PPI hand saw needs a 7-inch slim taper file.
  • If the PPI is 8, try using 6 inches slim taper file.
  • For 9 to 10 PPI you can try an extra slim taper file sizing 6 inches.
  • 6 inches double extra slim taper file is good for 11 PPI hand saw.
  • Go for a 5 inches double extra slim taper file with a 12 to 14 PPI hand saw.
  • Finally, the 15 to 20 PPI hand saw needs a 4 inches double extra slim taper file.

Complete Check-Up

  • Start with getting riding of any rust from your saw blade. A sandpaper can help you here. Some also prefer to use a wire brush for this purpose.
  • Next, you need to check whether all of the teeth come with a similar height. If not then you need to go for a jointing operation.
  • You’ll use wood blocks and clamp the saw into a vise so that it stays rigid. Using file, you need to bring the teeth on a uniform height.
  • For this evening out, you should use a double-cut, smooth metal file. On a piece of scrap simply clamp it so that the saw blade is square.

Using Saw Set

For the setup, you’ll need a saw set. It comes with a couple of pliers that have long handles at each end and jaws at the other and also a pivot in between. You will find a spinning disc at the jaw end. This is to adjust the tool traveling by turning.

When you squeeze the handle, plunger and jaw’s mounted anvil comes closer. This tool simply bent tooth at a required angle precisely.

Teeth Setup is Next

  • First, you need to start from saw set adjustment. This is to tell the PPI of saw that might be four to sixteen.
  • Now from one end of the saw, you need to position over first bent tooth. It should be away from the tool’s handle. Now simply squeeze that handle and tooth should be set.
  • You can skip the next tooth in a set since it is in opposite direction and keep repeating this process. Make sure the work goes down saw length. So that every other tooth gets its time.
  • To make sure the setup is uniform, you need to use a similar pressure for grip. Next, you turn and do this all over again with every other tooth set to the opposite side.

Time to File Teeth

  • You should have already decided about the file size. Now time to implement whatever size of taper file you chose. The shape is always similar no matter what size you pick and usually, it’s triangular or sixty-degree triple angled.
  • This shape makes sure that file can work on both front and back of a tooth at the same time. So, a proper angle is possible.
  • You need to clamp the saw and bring blade up. The saw blade that is clamped should come closer to cutting edge. Make sure the gullets are not more than ¼ inches from jaws. This will make sure the blade is in place.
  • Use thumb of your dominant hand and simply hold the handle making an angle towards file’s point. Now grab the file’s point with thumb and forefinger this time using a non-dominant hand.
  • The gap between each tooth will need only two strokes of file. To keep the consistency and neatness of teeth, make sure you use a similar number of strokes.
  • Also, don’t forget to use a leveled file for this step. Someone observing you should see a perfect T shape of your work.

Testing A Cut

  • Time for you to test your work and see the cut. You can use a combination square for this. Also, a square draw of the straight line will work. Try making the line down on board. Then simply get a cut along that line. If you notice a straight and clear cut, then the saw is sharp.
  • However, if there’s a bind for the cut then probably set is not enough. And you need a bit more set-in tooth.
  • If the saw is tracing one or another way from a straight line, set is too much for wandering side of tooth. You’ll need to reduce the set slightly in that case.
  • Using a fine diamond stone or slip stone you can simply run it on the wandering side. Go for a test afterward and it should work fine. Or keep on repeating until satisfying results.
  • Finally, use some oil on saw plate as well as teeth to avoid corrosion issues. That’s It!


Good job guys! You are all now well aware of how to sharpen a hand saw.I hope a dull and lifeless hand saw is never a problem for you anymore.Just make sure you put on proper safety wears while trying the sharpening method. Even if you are a pro at this, it’s good to maintain the rules and ethics. It’s a part of showing how seriously you take the profession. On That Note, I’ll Be Leaving and See You Soon for Another Fun Topic!

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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