English Saws

English Saws

English Braces


Love Your Saws with Matthew Cianci


Little Tillotson

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Some years ago in the early summer I found a guy on craigslist getting rid of a bunch of old tools and decided to go check them out.

I ended up getting a little cache of nice things, my favorite of which was a sweet gem of a saw that I noticed sticking out of the bottom of a box of rust.

All I could make out in the darkness of this guys basement was the finely shaped upper horn of a small back saw… but that was enough for me.

I quickly fell in love with it and took it home despite its sorry condition. Here she was as found…

As you can see, she is heavily rusted, the brass nuts are green with tarnish, and the saw plate was as winding as a New England country road. Miraculously, though, the handle is in very good shape, with only a small chunk missing out of the upper horn. You can see from the shape of the tote how I was immediately struck by this petite belle!

A quick cleaning of the steel back revealed the arching maker’s mark as “Thos Ti…..” and “Sheffield” which I soon deciphered into “Thomas Tillotson” thanks to my trusty copy of ’Handsaw Makers of Britain’ (a book I highly recommend to any and all saw nuts!).

It turns out this princess was over 150 years old…I can only wonder where she has seen in her long years, and how long she sat un-loved in that dark old basement box o rust.

Anyway, I set about fixing her up over the next few days and bringing her, near as I could back, to her original glory.

I am very happy with how she turned out, and it was a challenging project… the saw plate was badly kinked and required hammering true, the spine needed straightening as well, and the original split nuts needed replacement (which I slyly re-fabricated from a pair of domed nuts cut down and flattened to look like split nuts). Here she is all fixed up…

I have been using this saw now for a couple months and really love the way it cuts and feels…it has a very delicate saw plate (0.02 thick) and since I found it with 14 points and filed with fleam, I kept it as such. I love filing up tiny little saws like this…The steel is so thin and they are a joy to tune. You can really make them fly through the wood with little tweaks!

This saw has become my go to worker for my bench hook and its smooth as silk. Very nice! However, I am very tempted to file the fleam out of this little lady and see how she does as a dovetail saw… her size would make her perfect for a ‘tweener of a true dovetail and small carcase rip saw. Plus, with such a thin saw plate and fine pitch, I doubt filing out the fleam would effect the cross cut quality noticeably. Anyway, we’ll see… she’s certainly doing well as is, but then again, in my shop, fleam is never safe for long!!!! Hehehehehehe…

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Spear & Jackson


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