Wednesday 23 March 2016

Vintage Books and Frame Saws

Spring is coming soon.

One of the good news about it is, that the flea market season is starting.

And I had a real nice find on one of the first markets this season.

It's already March. The last winter days are ahead of us. But in a few weeks spring is coming. Hopefully.
One of the nice things is, that with the upcoming spring the flea market season is starting again.
That said, we have been on one of the first markets this late winter. It was indoor and we have been there for the first time.
It felt good to enter the hall. All the booths with their great stuff. I had some nice finds.
The first one was a book about furniture from 1800 to 1900, with a lot of nice examples. But it was too expensive and the dealer didn't want to negotiate. So I didn't bought it.
Secondly I found a very nice Roberts radio from the mid-century (I guess early 60ies). What can I say? That was much more expensive than the book. And as much as I liked it, I resisted.
I found another brace in pretty good condition and bought it for a good price.
But the finding I really want to write about today is a book.

The title of the book is "Fachkunde für Tischler". I think the best translation is "Technical knowledge for cabintemakers".

It is a textbook for cabinetmakers in apprenticeship. The edition is from 1952 and has got a lot of explanations of woodworking techniques. Although in the 50ies automated production was already usual, this book describes hand tool working basics.

"Why is he so excited about it?" you will ask.
Let me try to give an explanation. Most of the stuff I know about woodworking I've got from anglophone books, magazines and videos.
That's okay for me. I find most of the information I need and alongside I can improve my English (at least I hope so).
The more I'm plunging into woodworking the more questions are arising, which I have no answers to.
One of the questions is about saws. I've tried to find a nice rip or panel saw on flea markets or online.
But I must recognize that this wasn't very successful.
So I asked myself if nobody had used such kind of saws in the past. I already knew the answer. But I couldn't find any confirmation.
Now I've got it. Apprentices were educated to use frame saws for most, if not all of the (hand) sawing actions.

Side trimming

Now, what does this tell me? Perhaps I should give frame saws a try.
The real good thing is that you only need one frame and be able to change the blades. There are rip and crosscut blades available and also you can get a blade for the use as turning saw.
And last but not least you can buy Japanese blades for rip and crosscutting and a universal all purpose blade.
So, it seems a frame saw is the McGyver under the saws.

Ripping action

I never have tried one and to be honest they are looking so unwieldy to me.
With the flea market season in front of me I think I will keep an eye out for a good, used one.
Perhaps one day I will build one (on my list now).

In addition to my saw question, there is a chapter about saw maintenance like sharpening and setting.
As soon as I've studied and practiced that I will report about it.

There are some other details in there. But to increase the excitement I will save them for another post.

That's pretty much it for this week. Not too much woodworking because I'm busy with a honey do project.
Makeover our bedroom. Painting, paper, and so on. You all know that stuff. I think it will keep me busy the next weekend too.

Stay tuned!


  1. Hi Stefan,
    My first saw was a frame saw and I got because Tage Frid said I should get it. It was the only saw I had for ripping and crosscutting for years. It is only in the last 10 years or so that I switched to western style handsaws.
    ECE sells the hardware for making a frame saw and all the blades you mentioned.

    1. Hi Ralph,
      and how is your experience with this kind of saw? Do you like it?

  2. I don't know what was used in Eastern Europe but frame saw were standard in Western Europe (at least "on the Continent" as UK people would understand it.)
    I think frame saws have some advantages:
    - the blade doesn't use much steel;
    - the blade is in tension and would not easly buckle ;
    - the blade is narrower and would not bind as easly.

    The possibility to change the blade between cross and rip cut is probably not very practical and it is quite easy to make another frame (you don't necessarily need the nice turned handle on each saw).
    Being in Germany, you would be able to find ECE or Ulmia production easely.
    They have 700mm blades; conventional and Japanese ones.
    700 mm blades would be nice to rip as on the picture.

    1. Hi Sylvain,
      thanks for your thoughts. You are right. Perhaps it is not very practical to change the blades during the work. It's just the idea that you can if you want to.
      I just wanted to explore and understand the past of woodworking a bit better.
      As mentioned, spring is near. Flea market season is starting and I have got a new goal for this season ;-)

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