My small shop always makes me look at ways that I can do things more efficiently. I don't own a chop saw because they generally take up too much room and they only really do one thing well. That being said, I normally break out rough lumber using a circular saw. This has been working just fine for the last couple of years with just one annoying problem – the circular saw throws sawdust everywhere in the shop. The floor and every horizontal surface gets coated with a wooden shake 'n' bake including myself. I never really thought about it much, I just figured it was something that I had to put up with because of my small space.

It wasn't until I started reading The Saw Blog that I figured out that the solution to my problem was simple – hand saws (duh!). A coarse rip and cross cut would allow me to break out my rough lumber into more manageable pieces that my small table and band saw could handle. Now, I'm not really worried about speed in my shop because I mainly woodwork as a hobby these days ... and it would give me a chance to learn and master more hand tools. Too bad the Shakers hadn't thought of dust collection when they invented the circular saw.

My experience with saws has centered on joinery saws so I had to research my purchase of a couple of saws before I went for it. After talking to Matt from the saw blog, I decided on a pair of Disston D-8's. The rip has five TPI (teeth per inch) while the cross cut has eight TPI. Both saws are on the coarse-side and will perform well for the kind of work I have in mind for them. So off I went to Doug's Happy Tool Hovel to see how much money I could give him. The saws I bought are in great shape and remarkably sharp so I can only assume that the last owner of these saws knew what they were doing. A fellow named J. Heroux judging by the stamps found on both handles. I find it very cool that both saws I bought were owned by the same guy. You can tell that the teeth are hand-sharpened because each tooth is not perfectly shaped, yet sharp. If saws are anything like any other edge tool in woodworking - it's less about the look and more about the results that is important. I plan on learning how to hand-sharpen my saws but I'm going to practice on an old saw plate that I was keeping to use for making scratch stocks.

Both of these D8's where made in Toronto, Canada around 100 years ago

The apple handles are also in great shape but the varnish is starting wear off. Functionally this isn't a big deal but why not have these saws look their best? I'll strip the remaining varnish off of the handles and give them a few good coats of linseed oil so I will be able to feel the wood while I use the saws. I'm a big fan of oiled tool handles because I find that they have a warmth to them that you just don't get from a varnished handle.

This handle will look great once it's stripped and finished with linseed oil
So now the next step is to build a saw bench. A saw bench is simply a knee high bench that is stable and will allow you to use handsaws in a comfortable way. You can use your own body weight to secure the wood that you are sawing and your saw strokes will feel natural. Matt has more on this on his blog if you're interested in reading more on saw benches. As for my saw bench, I'll post some photos when I'm done with it.

So my circular saw gets demoted from the shop to the shed to be used the next time I have to cut 2 by's or other construction grade material. So long Skil ... you just didn't make the cut.