Finally, I can make a decent cut with a Western Saw!

I took the day off to get dental work and found that my dental issues were not as bad as I feared.  So there was nothing for it, I went to the Dallas Lie Neilsen Tool Event.

It was a very important day for me.  As a woodworker, I have suffered from the inability to make anything like a reliable cut with a Western Style Saw.   Not the worst handicap, since I have no issue when using a Razorsaw(Gyokucho) 650 Royoba.   Sometimes however it would be nice to push a blade and not have sawdust covering the line.

At this event I met Frank Strazza, from the Heritage School of Woodworking.

Frank Strazza

Frank managed to teach this old dog a new trick.


I was missing four things.  The first clue is the sound of the saw.   I can’t really show that.

The second is the grip, solidly held with absolutely no pressure or tension.


The third was the stance.


The fourth thing I was missing was how to hold my other thumb when starting the cut.  When drawing a Japanese saw, I am pulling, and I guide with the side of my hand.  For starting a push cut I needed to see the other side of the saw clearly.  By using the tip of my thumb as a guide I was able to manage a decent guide when I needed it.   I practiced without my thumb to get the method clearly, but I can assure you when I cut a line that matters, I will be using Frank’s method from here on out.

Frank is a brilliant teacher with the ability to watch for a while and figure out better approaches for a task.  I would love to take several of his classes.

Lie Neilsen’s crew was wonderful as always, and I had the pleasure of meeting Lynn Dowd!
Dowd's Tools
Lynn Dowd is the person to contact if you are looking for fine vintage tools in Texas.

Dallas is quite a bit out of my way, but getting to go to this event really helped justify the time and expense.


5 comments to Finally, I can make a decent cut with a Western Saw!

  • Rob Wageneck

    I went to the LN event as well. Had a great time with all those tools, but the best part was Mrs. dowd’s Jalapeño Cherry pie. I took two classes from Frank and it was tremendously helpful in learning handtool woodworking. You will never meet a more patient, and more gifted instructor than him. Having said that, Shawn has a school down in San Marcos that is pretty amazing. I took the Dutch tool chest class form chris schwarz down there last year. Chris was the one teaching the class, but I have a feeling Shawn is actually a better teacher. Chris is a great lecturer, and is quite entertaining however. Shawn is hosting a handtool boot camp in about a month with Shannon Rogers that I plan to go to if I can convince my wife….

  • sadie

    I saw a exterior-grade milk paint recipe you offered several years back, leveraging different pH in a 2-coat process. I want to paint a large nut and bolt to prevent rust, and am wondering if the acidity or alkalinity of either coat will degrade the metal at all? Thank you!

  • Bob Strawn

    Testing it would be the right thing to do. I have not data either way.

  • Bob Strawn

    I am not sure, testing would be the only way to be sure.

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