Saw Construction 1 - Saw
By D. Greco
As we mention on the web site, the saw plates that you buy from us
are made from 1095 blue polished spring steel. The raw spring
steel comes to us with a blue coating that is imparted by the
tempering process. This is chemically removed before the saw plate
has it's teeth punched. While the process that removes the bluing
leaves a clean surface, it's not the kind of surface most people
want to leave on a new saw plate. So a bit of prep work is
necessary in order to get it ready for use.
What you'll need
I also suggest wearing old clothes when you do
this. It's a bit messy. But not as bad as changing your own oil in
- 220 to 600 grit Wet/Dry sandpaper
- I usually start with 220 grit but if
the saw plate looks clean enough, I can start with 320.
Now why I may suggest 600 grit as the highest, you can
easily go above that if you want a really reflective
surface. Klingspor sells a grab bag of assorted sandpaper
that gives you a nice range of grits. I highly recommend
- Sanding block
- You need something nice and flat to
back the sandpaper up. You can buy a sanding block at any
of the big box stores or just use a nice flat piece of 2x4
with a kerf cut in each end to hold the edges of the
- Mineral Spirits
- I use mineral spirits to stop the swarf from
clogging the sandpaper. It also lubes the sandpaper and
reduces the scratches. I use a small squeeze bottle to
drip it on the saw as I sand. You don't need much. Only
enough to wet it. Not soak it.
- Some cloth or heavy duty paper rags
- After sanding with each grit, you need
to wipe the saw plate down and remove the gunk.
Otherwise you stand the risk of abrasives from the
previous grit scratching the surface
- Sanding platform
- This is nothing more than a clean, very
flat plate to work. The surface needs to be free from
divots and bumps. I use a hunk of 3/4" MDF that has a
clean screwed to one end. I also gave it a couple of coats
of finish to help it reduce the chance it'll absorb
mineral spirits and swell. The cleat allows me to clamp it
in my end vise. You could also use a wagon vise to hold it
between two bench dogs. But any way that allows you to
secure it to your bench is acceptable.You're going to be
bearing down on this a bit and you don't want it moving
around on you.
Install a piece of your lowest grit sandpaper in your sanding
block and add a couple of drops across the back half of your saw
plate. While holding the other half steady with your hand, make
steady full length passes with the sanding block. Do this until
you have a clean surface that has a consistent color and fine
scratch pattern. Resist the temptation to go back over a spot and
"scrub" it with short strokes. If you do this you will end up with
a bunch of tiny vee shaped scratches where you changed direction
Once you have a satisfactory surface on the half you are working
on it's time to rotate the saw plate and work on the other half.
Be sure to wipe the saw plate clean and check for scratches. I
like to finish one side and then flip it over and do the other
side with the same grit. That way I don't get confused where I
stopped and started with one grit versus another.
The real trick here is to look for big scratches and remove them
before proceeding to the next grit. Full length strokes and
attention to the pressure you're exerting also helps to get you to
a nice surface. Once you have done as much as you can, it's time
to wipe the saw plate clean and move to the next grit.
Rinse and repeat until you have reached a surface
with the right amout of shine you are looking for.
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