A new beginning

Owl family

“There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of the day, so do I.”  

John Steinbeck

Due to unforeseen circumstances in my life, I will be relocating my shop from Fort Collins, Colorado to Missoula, Montana. I should l have a shop space set up by early June. I will also be doing some work on my website, so you may see a glitch or two.

Customers who have already ordered saws should expect a slight delay. I will keep you informed, and deal with this on an individual basis.

A couple of side notes:  I’m  tentatively looking at moving my shop and living quarters into an insanely huge and awesome, old train depot. it has a ten ton overhead crane, which would be very handy for moving my saws and tiny boxes of supplies around. I definitely need a ten ton overhead crane. It’s even occupied by a family of owls.

The other side note, mostly something for you to look at, and maybe give me some feedback on.

The following picture is of a small square I purchased while tool scrounging today. It was liberated from a box full of rusty detritus. It’s the coolest little square I’ve ever seen, with some very nice details. It has nice little ogee details on both ends, similar to old  try squares I’ve seen. It also has very small notches filed into it, spaced 1, 1/16″ apart, as well as another small filed detail. The dime is in the picture for scale.

I suspect it was a pattern makers square, probably user made. It appears to be cast, and has no makers mark, and exude’s a hand-made quality. It was also with other tools that appeared to be pattern makers tools.  Unfortunately it has a small crack in it, and is out of square. I am hesitant to file it back into square, until I know more about it. It’s the best $1.00 I’ve ever spent. If you’ve seen one similar to this or know what it is, let me know.

The other blurry picture is of part of the owl family that resides in my new potential shop. Such amazing creatures.

Thanks,  KLR

A gem of a square

Becoming one with file and rasp

A selection from my file arsenal.

Making hand-made tools requires plenty of file and rasp work. These tools are indispensable for the amount of control and precision shaping required for this trade. I love both of these types of tools, but I have to admit that long hours of filing and rasping can make both the body and mind very weary. My mind begins to wander, and I start thinking about computer controlled CNC machines, or perhaps a gang of neighborhood kids that work for only $1.00 per saw handle.

But then I realize that a tool made by a robot robs us of the hand-made qualities and uniqueness of these tools, and paying kids only $1.00 per saw handle violates child labor laws, and would be considered a sweat shop. I support neither.

So my mind wanders back to the task at hand, and I begin to break down my blade or handle blanks, notch by notch, stroke by stroke. I discover the subtleties of each tool, working with and against the grain of wood and metal. Sometimes the movements are bold and crude, hogging out material; sometimes so dainty, I wonder if I even removed any material.

Soon (several hours later), I look at the clock, and am amazed at how absorbed in the task I have been, shaping this small bit of utilitarian sculpture. The form has taken shape, in contrast to  its rough origin. I wonder, “Have I become one with file and rasp?”

The next work day dawns, and I find myself dreaming about robot sweat shops and such. Then I start shaping the material, with each stroke of the file and rasp. New forms blossom from crude materials, once again, I have become lost in the action, a snake chasing it’s tail.

My rasp collection.

The completed saw blade from Durer’s “Melancholia”


Here is my interpretation of the saw from Albrecht Durer’s “Melancholia” print.  I filed the teeth to 8 ppi with a good bit of positive rake, similar to the saw in the print. I did not, however, file the teeth as unevenly as the saw depiction, they are a bit uneven, though. It was a compromise between usability and aesthetics. I wanted it to be recognizable as a copy of the saw in the print, but reasonably usable.


I was really curious how this saw would be in use, as the closest saw to this that I’ve used is a Japanese pull saw, obviously very different since you pull it, not push it. It is honestly a bit awkward, but perfectly usable. I’m sure most early saws were awkward to use compared to our fine-tuned modern saws. Such is the process of tool evolution.

What I both enjoy and find awkward about this saw is the great curve in the blade and the pointed tip. Who knows why saws of this era were designed as such. It may have been due to available materials, forging technique, etc. This effectively gives you vastly different rake angles, which are further varied by the angle of attack upon the wood being sawn. It would also seem to make the saw more versatile, allowing for piercing cuts in the center of a board. This is all speculation, of course. I’ll continue to explore medieval saw forms, and  learn a thing or two about the tools of our past.


I’ll have this saw posted for sale  sometime soon, you can contact me for custom work if you would like to be put on my backlog for this saw. Also, a final note: I will be out of my shop from April 22nd through May 30th. I will be checking my email and still taking orders, just expect a delay. Thanks


The saw from Albrecht Durer’s “Melancholia”


As a custom job for a client, I am recreating the saw pictured above in Albrecht Durer’s Melancholia. This is a very exciting project for me, as Durer is among my favorite artists, and it creates the opportunity to explore another ancient saw form.

I will not be making it exactly as pictured, the teeth will be more evenly cut. I’ll embellish and fine-tune it, until it does what it’s supposed to do.  Once I am happy with the saw, I will list it for sale with my others. Just a sneak peek for you, stay tuned….

I can now receive payments on my “For sale” page

Thanks for your patience while I’ve set up my paypal links. You can now order through my ” For sale” page. It will send you to an Etsy/Paypal link. Also, I’ve added a new page for sending a $100.00 deposit on custom work and backordered saws, and to secure a spot on my back log, it too will send you to the same link. Thanks,  Kevin Reeves, North Wind Toolworks

Trimming a butterfly key, in a burl slab, with the NO.1 Compass saw.



Moxon and No.1 Compass saws in use

Following are some photos and commentary on the Moxon and No.1 Compass saws in use.

A brief note about the filing on my saws: My saws are filed without fleam, which as evidence suggests, is how saws were filed in centuries past. We can’t know this for sure though. These are a few things I’ve discovered about fleam-less saws:

  1. They crosscut quite well.
  2. They are easy to sharpen.
  3. They are not really “fleam-less”, as a small amount of angle is always introduced into the tooth during hand filing, though it may be a negligable amount.

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”  Friedrich Nietzsche



ImageCrosscutting with the Moxon saw.

ImageRough dovetails, with the Moxon saw.

ImageSawing a small dado with the Moxon Saw.

ImageDovetail cut with the Moxon saw.

The following series of photos shows me using both saws to fix a joint that I botched. I accomplish this by clamping the defective joint, and  kerfing it in, until it’s tight. The Compass saw is provided with a small chiseled hole on the inside of the joint.ImageMan, that’s one ugly duckling!ImageKerfing in the top.ImageKerfing in the center with the No.1 Compass saw. Repeat these steps until the joint closes up.ImageIt’s still ugly, but it will do for rough joinery.ImageExample of No.1 Compass saw, in use.




The Moxon Saw


First, let me introduce myself: my name is Kevin Reeves, owner and operator of North Wind Toolworks.


At the top  of the page is my interpretation of the saw in plate 4 of Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises. It’s made mostly to scale, with my own touches to make it  comfortable and nice looking. I say mostly to scale, because if I’d exactly followed it to scale, it would have felt like holding a sharp, weird, banana-shaped stick! Not a comfy saw, and of course we can’t take the drawing in plate 4 as a literal example of what the saw was like, as it’s only a wee sketch.

 I embellished, and added my own touches, to create a form that I am truly happy with. I find myself often reaching for this saw, mostly for secondary cuts (quickly knocking down a small board or dowel, cutting a kerf for the wedge in a hammer handle, etc.), but the saw is capable of rough joinery (don’t expect it to replace your dovetail saw). The saw is fairly aggressive, and is a bit jumpy to start, but once the kerf is established, cuts very nicely, both rip and crosscut, even though it is essentially a rip saw.  The handle on this one is figured maple. I’ll post more in the future about the Moxon saw in use.    

When I first began working on creating this saw, it seemed really goofy, and just plain wrong. I was thinking that whoever designed it perhaps had powdered their wig a bit too much that day, or dipped into the glue pot one time too many. But as I chipped away and designed something that could be used comfortably, I saw its beauty and simplicity. On first inspection, the top horn looks all wrong, but I found it facilitates a nice overhand grip for ripping. So powder up your wigs, tighten them shoe buckles, and get to sawing! No fleam, thank you.


 A note about my split nut hardware on the saws: You may notice that the bolt itself has two little indents in the head. Not a traditional form. So in this regard my hardware isn’t strictly traditional. I feel it is superior to traditional split nuts, as you can easily crank down your saw bolts when needed, and not strip out your split nuts. A small screw driver or split nut driver can be inserted into the split nut to hold it stationary if needed, while tightening or loosening the saw bolt. A special driver for my hardware is included with each saw order. ImageImage