Making a Gramercy Bow Saw

The Office of the Cheeks made to the Frame Saw is, by the twisted Cord and Tongue in the middle, to draw the upper ends of the Cheeks closer together, that the lower end of the Cheeks may be drawn the wider asunder, and strain the Blade of the Saw the straighter.

Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises, 1677

I made my first bow saw over twenty years ago using an idea from Roy Underhill and Drew Langsner. I still use that saw, I made the frame from some black oak (quercus kellogii) that I had harvested from my Paynes Creek, California property and the handles are mulberry that were turned on a spring pole lathe. The blade is made from a band saw blade.

Like many wood workers, I have longed to have a sexy curvy bow saw just like those joiners of old, so last night and most of this morning I made a nice bow saw from some black walnut.

It was over six months ago when I purchased handles, pins and blades from Tools For Working Wood and I had this crazy idea that I was going to convert a couple of hickory pick handles into sticks to make this bow saw. Those pick handles are still in the other workshop and last night I dimensioned some walnut that I had on hand. This morning I made a template from the Gramercy plans, which are available at Tools For Working Wood website, and started in on work.

I made sure that I got the mortices and tenons completed before I started shaping the uprights!

Then came the shaping work. I used a draw knife, a sloyd knife, several wood rasps, a coping saw and some spokeshaves.

The finished product.

This isn't an exact copy of a Gramercy saw, I didn't want to spend a lot of time shaping the wood where the handles enter the uprights, I need a basic saw to get the job done. I used some 20lb. fly line backing for the cordage and made a very simple tongue, or toggle, to tighten the cord. This saw is amazingly light, I can't wait to use it!


  1. this is a handsome piece, i'm sure its light weight will make it a nimble tool.

    hello sir! I always enjoy reading your posts that show up on the unpluggedshop drift net.

    Know what? I got shipped the wrong bandsaw blade today and was wondering what to do, but maybe you've planted the seed... tell me, er, the web: what do you do with this kind of bowsaw in lutherie?

    1. I use a bow saw to rough out the heel on a guitar neck and to cut out the slots for the tuning machines in the head stock. Oh, and to rough out the crest on the head stock, this saw will be a little easier on my arms than a regular coping saw.

  2. I have the same kit and the brass saw blade holders are loose in my the handles. TFFW says this is ok that the epoxy will hold them. How was the fit on your brass and handles?

    1. The fit of pins and handles were a little loose and I used epoxy to glue handles to pins. Epoxy is a wood worker's friend!

  3. You'll really enjoy using this saw. It's light weight and Granercy's fine blades make it a very nimble addition to any shop. I reach for mine anything a line curves.

    1. Thanks, Bob! I can't wait to take it for a test drive!


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