Building a Roubo type frame resaw

Our quest to make a frame re-saw began at the first WIA when we tried out Adam Cherubini's ver­sion. Adam's saw didn't work very well and we thought it was because the blade was too thin but we weren't sure. In making our frame re-saw or veneer saw we began with a bit of research. We looked at plates in Roubo and studied photos of saws in the Hay shop at Colonial Williamsburg, we also looked at examples of Swedish saws available in our area. The saws all seemed to be about the same size with slight variations on the hardware and handle shapes. The plates in Roubo are very clear and make it easy to emulate the hardware designs. Our first iteration was based on the saw in the Hay shop at Colonial Williamsburg. We had a piece of 4 foot long x .042 – 1095 spring steel that was 1 1/2 inches wide that we thought would make a good blade. We never got around to working on the saw until I bought a manual toother and wanted to try it out on something (I hate to call it a re-toother when we are cutting teeth in new material). One Tuesday evening I toothed the blade, we punched holes in it and Dean filed it. I took a scrap of round conduit and beat it into the rectangular shape you see in the photo of the wedge blade tensioner. I turned the handles and John and Tom mortised the handles and made the rest of the frame. In about 3 hours we had our first saw, from scratch, and it worked!! We could see room for improvement so we got to working on our next version.

Roubo Plate

Roubo Plate

C.W. Hay Shop Copy

Wedge blade tensioner

Roubo style frame

Roubo Style saw

The blades were made from .042×2 inch 1095 blued spring steel that we got from McMaster Carr in a 25 foot roll. We sliced the roll up into 4 foot long sections with a large tin snips and punched 2 holes about 1 inch apart in each end of the blade with a very large punch. The blades were then toothed with a Foley manual toother to 3.3 PPI, or 8 points in 3 inches. In order to clamp the blades in the carrier bars we had to tape them together so they would be wide enough. You can see this in the hardware photo. We had to reposition the blades in the carrier bars in order to cut teeth in a 4 foot long blade. We made a jig to aid us in placing the blade in proper registration, then fine tuned the placement in the toother. I believe this could also be accomplished with a power toother but we did not try it, keep in mind that the power toothers can be operated manually as well. Smith's key shows the blades in 4 inch widths and lengths starting a 48 inches. McMaster sells the 4 inch material in 10 foot lengths and 21 foot lengths for 3 inch. Our saws work fine with a 2 inch blade.

Tom Toothing

Punching the blade

Punch in box with leather punch

Dean filing

To keep the fabrication of parts to a minimum we used a 2×5 rectangular tube with a quarter inch wall thickness with an internal opening of 1.5 inches x 4.5 inches. Using a metal cutting bandsaw we sliced the brackets off of the tube at a slight angle leaving us with a top width of 1 inch and a bottom width of 1.25 inches. The bracket was sliced on the wide end up about 2 inches and the slot spread slightly with a wedge of steel to enable it to accept the blade stock. We welded a 1 inch square blank on the top end of one of the brackets to give us more threads for the eye bolt that tightens the blade to run in. We then drilled and tapped the bracket to accept a 1/2×13 threaded eye bolt. The best source we could find for a forged eye bolt was the local big box store. The eye bolts were galvanized so we threw them in to the wood stove and burned the galvanizing off, we also ground off some raised lettering from the eye of the bolt to make them look better. After passing a die down the bolt to clean up the threads we cut them off at a length of 2 inches and ground a cone shape at the end to match a similar cone shape recess we countersunk into the wear plate. The wear plate is a piece of 2 1/2×1 x 1/4 inch flat bar stock with two countersunk holes for # 10 screws and a countersunk divot for the the tightening screw to run in. The final bit of hardware was an 1/8 inch steel rod that we bent in a U shape around a piece of 1/2 inch pipe to use as blade retaining pins.

The hardware

Blade keeper bending jig

Jig in use

The finished part

We made the wooden parts of the saw from Poplar. The two end pieces are 1 1/2×3×24 and the two stretchers are 1 1/4×1 1/2×52 1/2 with 50 inches between the shoulders. For simplicity we made a single 1/2 inch wide mortise. We inlaid the wear plate into the head piece.There is 15 inches between the 2 stretchers. We were lucky as John has a Swedish version of the frame resaw that we could look at. It has a fancier mortise.

Wooden parts. From top, blank, carved blank, original Swedish.

Mortises, our blank, Swedish

Wooden parts and patterns

You can see the layout for the volute. I just sketched the basic outline on our template and used a dividers to get the general form. I used 3 axis points. Keep it simple. We made 9 saws and our total cost per saw including a file came in at around $45. Kari Hultman has a nice tutorial on carving a similar volute at…hinking.html