now, I have always instructed students in my saw building
classes to cut the saw blade slot in their tote free hand.
This is usually the most intimidating step
for novice sawyers to complete, as they are nervous about
cutting askew and possibly ruining their saw. Because
I normally teach class like a heartless dictator, I simply
call them names, break their spirit to resist, and make them
do it anyway.
But no more. I have acquiesced. I must be
getting soft in my old age. So, from now on, I will offer students the
safe way out: a jig.
Ironically, this is how I first started to slot saw totes
years ago when I started making saws. Its quite
simple. All you really need is a pull saw and some
Before you begin its still a good idea to
mark the blade slot with a cutting/marking gauge. Then
lay the tote on the shim piece and make sure the teeth of
the pull saw line up exactly with the marked line.
Plane down the shim if its too tall, or shim with paper if
its too short.
Make sure the bench hook and shim are
cinched down tight and slowly kerf in the slot with the saw
running lightly back and forth along the layout line.
I simply run the saw back and forth with
hand pressure. Make sure you keep the plate flat and
true on the bench hook and hold the tote firmly…
When I’m about halfway through the cheek I
finish up by clamping the tote in my face vise and saw the
slot to final depth by hand. The slot is deep enough
at this point to guide the saw without fear or running
And voila: a perfectly true blade slot…
Its pretty idiot proof… believe me.