Build a Dovetail Saw

Matt Cianci



Working with"The Sawwright" aka Matt Cianci, during this weekend course you will build and sharpen a 10" dovetail back saw.

You will learn how to shape the tote to fit your hand.  Matt will give you a thorough introduction to sharpening and setting saw teeth. You will sharpen the saws; Matt will share the finer details of saw tooth geometry and how to tune the rake, fleam, and set.  

The kits are sourced from Bontz Saw Works. The cost of the kit, tote material, a file and sawset included in the Materials Charge.

You will leave this class with a customized tool and the knowledge to keep it working in top condition.  

This is a shortened version of Matt's week-long Hand Saw Construction and Restoration class.

Class Description

Day 1: Saw Theory, Making the Parts

  • Discuss design of backsaws, common saw forms, elements of function, tote design, materials and wood species selection.

  • Rough out and shape the tote.

  • Shape brass saw back and spring steel plate

Day 2: Assembly, Tuning, and Sharpening

  • Refine tote,assemble and tune the parts

  • Sharpen the saw



We suggest that you bring the following:

  • A Nicholson #50 rasp and a smooth or bastard-cut 8" half-round file (most woodworking stores stock the #50s). Most hardware stores such as Ace Hardware will have a Nicholson 8" half-round file at a good price.  

    More expensive but significantly better are
     Auriou hand-cut rasps which provide a smoother finish at the rasping stage. If purchasing the French rasps, we recommend:  10" Cabinet Grain 9 and 9" Cabinet Grain 14. You can also obtain these rasps from Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen.

    We'll have a supply of rasps and files on hand for the shaping of the handles if you choose not to purchase the rasp and file.

  • For sharpening, especially with smaller teeth, we recommend a pair of inexpensive reading glasses available at most drug stores. We suggest a pair with 3 diopter strength.
  • We strongly recommend that you bring a saw vise to class. There are good instructions here on building a saw vise from scraps in the shop. As an alternative you could bring a vintage saw vise in good working order or a new saw vise from Tools for Working Wood


This class could be intimidating if it is your first time working with hand tools. However if you have self studied and completed many of the projects in Jim Tolpin's "The New Traditional Woodworker" or have taken hand tool classes elsewhere or have other equivalent experience then this will be a great class for you.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10

Cost: $ 300

Materials Charge: $ 100

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.