I have a new website

For those of you still following this wordpress blog, You should know that I have a new website, www.nwtoolworks.com, which was supposed to be linked to this site, but was apparently not linked. My new site accepts credit cards through pay-pal. Also, I am on sabbatical in Europe, and will not be taking orders until further notice.

Check out my new site if you like, and happy holidays-

Kevin Reeves

Coming soon: A variety of blade finishes

I will be offering a variety of blade finishes Standard polished, highly polished, blued, and patinated (antiqued). Prices will vary on each blade finish option.

I will also be offering a wider variety of woods for my standard saws: Beech, cherry, walnut, and maple. Highly figured woods and tropical woods will be considered a custom option and priced on an individual basis.

Also, a couple of changes: The blades on my Moxon saws are now .032 thick rather than the previously stated .030. I plan to experiment with some different blade thicknesses and tooth configurations with this saw, in the future.

I am also going to have my site revamped soon, so it is more integrated and user-friendly. Please be patient. I can still receive orders, it may just be out of wack for a bit. Snail mail and checks are always an option (what’s he talking about?).

Also, once again, I am currently a one man operation, and saws are made to order. I do make them in batches occasionally, and you might get lucky and get it quicker than most. But expect 3-8 weeks for delivery, depending on my work load. There are only so many hours in a day! I sometimes wish I were a robot.

Thanks-  KLR, North Wind Toolworks

The saw pictured below is the Moxon with a beech handle and a patinated blade. If you like the look of an old tool, but the performance of a new one, this may be your cup of tea. Or is it hand of saw?


Custom “Melancholia” saw

ImageThis is just a couple of photos of a custom saw, based on the saw pictured in Albrecht Durer’s “Melancholia” print. The handle is lilac wood, with a brass bolster that I turned free-hand, and filed to shape. The teeth are progressive, 10 ppi at the toe to 8 ppi at the heel, the blade is lightly colored, for a more antique look.

ImageA fun, “Medievalish” saw to make, (that’s a word right?), a difficult blade to cut teeth into, overall a great project-


My Frankenstein saw vise

To be able to sharpen a saw properly, you need a vise that will hold the saw plate firmly and does not quiver and quake with each stroke of your file. This is not an efficient way to sharpen a saw, and only creates frustration for the saw filer, as well as dull or poorly shaped teeth, not to mention prematurely worn files.

I’ve used some old, small, cast iron varieties, and have mostly been disappointed with their performance. The jaws are not long enough, they don’t grip tight enough, and they vibrate something fierce. I do have an old Disston vise with the ball and socket base, pretty handy, and just fine for the occasional tune up or shaping. Great for the wood-worker who wants to tune up their saws occasionally.

But if you make saws for a living, you need a serious saw vise, with big jaws, plenty of holding power, and it should be as solid as a rock, and have minimal vibration. All pretty simple things, but not easy to find in a manufactured unit. I looked for an old acme, but to no avail.

The best answer to the problem? Make your own. This could be accomplished in all sorts of ways. I have all kinds of ideas flowing through my head, beautiful pieces of utilitarian art, monuments to the art of toolmaking.

So, this is what I came up with:

My Frankenstein saw vise

A hideous hodge-podge of salvaged/second-hand materials.

The main works is formed from a small cast iron Colombian bench vise I purchased for $15.00 at a second-hand store. The front jaw consists of a piece of oak with a strip of angled brass at the top, a piece of salvaged door threshold. This is what engages the saw, pressing it against the back  jaw, which is a piece of aluminum angle from an old computer main frame, with an oak spacer, to allow for handle clearance. This  has leather glued and tacked onto it, to further dampen vibration. The oak and brass front jaw is attached to the cast iron vise with a couple of pieces of plywood, four small bolts, and a robust amount of drywall screws.

It’s a real beauty, a true monument to the craft of the toolmaker!

But, it has a beast-like grip, minimal to no vibration, and big, long jaws. Plus, I only spent about  1 hour  making it. I can file the entire side of most saws, without having to reposition the saw plate. The jaws are about 20 inches long, so bigger saws require some repositioning.

So, in a working shop where efficiency and economy rule, this hideous little champion  can’t be beat.

Perhaps I’ll build my beautiful, finely crafted version another day, and place it in my hand tools only hobby shop, or maybe I’ll see the inner beauty of Frankenstein.

Engaged with the monster

Side note:  I’m fully rooted back in Montana, and am in full swing.

Also, I wanted to give a special thanks to a client, Fred, whom graciously sent me some nice tool books to show his appreciation. Much appreciated Fred, I’ll try to make the next saw extra special for you.


Mesmerized by the ghost

Ever since I started down the path, through the forest of wood-working, my imagination has been captivated by turning. It always seemed so magical to me, yet intimidated me.

I remember my first experience at turning. The lathe was some old little piece of cast iron, attached to a motor by belt and pulley. I have no idea how many RPM’s the thing spun at, I believe it was a bit fast. My brother was showing me how to do it, fresh out of shop class (no offense bro).

File/Rasp handles, and a rugged candle stick.

The wood held captive on the lathe was a rugged, old, crusty piece of oak.  Not something I would choose to turn these days. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had harbored some barbed wire, deep in it’s bowels. The “turning tools”, were actually dull, poor quality carving tools, from a big box store.

So, the wood is buzzing away at who knows what RPM, and I hesitantly ease my little dull carving tool into the work piece. It was not pretty, and I’m amazed I didn’t rip a finger or two off. My career in turning lay stagnant after that, for a good long while.

But a day came when I regained some confidence, a little know-how, and tools. I started on small pieces of green wood, and I was hooked. I am no pro at turning, but find it to be one of the most enjoyable wood- working tasks. It’s highly meditative to me and relaxes my mind. It’s more of a shop past-time for me, besides the handles I turn for some of my saws.

One of my favorite fun-time projects is turning file and rasp handles. I can be as creative as I want, I experiment with new shapes and patterns on each new blank, and approach it with wonder and excitement. If I screw up on a handle, no big deal, it’s only scrap wood after all. It’s economical, fun, relaxing, and satisfying.

The ghost, working it’s mojo.

I’m not sure about the terminology of turning, but I call the outline you see on the work piece as it’s spinning, “The ghost”. I may have read this somewhere, I’m not sure. If you’ve done any turning this terminology may seem apparent to you. The work piece almost becomes translucent.

So when my mind is filled with turmoil, I find it very soothing to step up to the lathe, lose myself to the action of cutting spinning wood, and become mesmerized by the ghost.

Side note:  I am in the process of setting my shop up in Montana, and will be back in full swing in 2-3 weeks. Thanks for your patience – KLR

The Moxon and Ancient style carcase saw, in figured walnut

Moxon saw, in figured walnut

My last post was quite dull, so I just wanted to top it off with some pictures of a couple of saws I recently made for a client. I love how these saws turned out. The client did also. The Ancient style carcase saw is filed at 13 ppi, with a relaxed rake. It is filed without fleam, and rips and crosscuts nicely. I compared it to a japanese pullsaw and a well-known makers carcase saw, and it held its own. If you would like a spot on my back log for this saw, let me know. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am in the process of moving my shop, and will have a shop space set up in early june. Expect a delay.  The price for this saw is $325.00, $40.00 extra for specialty woods, excluding very exotic woods. I deal with these choices on a case to case basis.  I hope you enjoy the photos.

Have a fine day. KLR

Ancient style carcase saw, in figured walnut

One of the best tools in my shop

This stool has seen better days. And you might think I’m lazy for claiming it as one of the best tools in my shop, but it’s great. I love it. I also get a bit nostalgic about it, as I spent many hours as a child, hanging out on it, in my parents antique store. It’s been around the block a time or two.

ImageI use it to sit on, (obviously), and rest my feet. I use it to get the best angles on a blade or handle while sharpening or rasping, (lowering my working height). I use it to set my tools on while standing and rasping or filing. It’s great.  KLR