Saw Sharpening (Part 1)

When sharpening a saw blade, there are three particular angles to consider relative to the file being used.

1. Rake – angle of the front of the tooth on a file.

-‘Negative rake’ is used for cross-cut saws.

-‘Zero rake’ is generally reserved for ripsaws.

2. Fleam – angle of the file relative to the saw blade.

Cross-cut saws will always require some degree of fleam. Reversing the position of the file relative to the blade allow sharpening of the second side of the tooth.

Ripsaws require zero fleam; simply hold the file perpendicular to the blade.

3. Slope – angle of the file beginning parallel to the blade. Zero slope refers to the position of the file directly perpendicular to the blade.

-Slope helps by giving the gullets more space to clear the waste, avoiding sawdust build-up between the teeth.

-Some slope is recommended; however, too much slope will cause the saw to tear at the timber rather than sliding smoothly through it.


Note: Using a small amount of wax on the file prior to use will allow it to slide across the blade smoothly.

Example: For a cross-cut blade, sharpening would use a little bit of slope, quite a lot of fleam, and the negative rake would present a flat side of the file at the top. Use the exact same action for every tooth (or every other tooth, as the case may be) to ensure uniformity along the entire blade and therefore, a more efficient saw.

For a saw vice, use two pieces of sturdy hardwood screwed together, with a block at the base and two softwood jaws mounted at the top inside; using softwood here is less likely to cause damage to your saw blade. Once the blade is inserted, secure with a clamp and vice.