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I recently inherited this saw, which needs a sharpen. Before I invest in the (large - the saw is 5tpi) file needed, is it possible to sharpen them? I can foresee at least 2 challenges.

First, normally one would rest the narrow edge of the file in the gullet, but this isn't possible in the large gap between the groups of teeth, so how is the file supported here? Second, the rake of the "half tooth" immediately behind the gap is wildly different to that of the other teeth so how would one adjust the fleam to compensate?

I'm assuming a cross cut because that's probably what I'd use it for, but maybe these are always rip?enter image description here

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    Hi, welcome to Woodworking! I believe this tooth pattern will always be on a crosscut saw, although I'd need to check old catalogues to confirm. I'm not even sure by the time of this saw type whether anyone did any ripping (of logs) by hand. But certainly the first modern saw I thought of this tooth style is a crosscut. As with all old saws that need a sharpen, it's best to assume the teeth aren't all the shape they are supposed to be! Saws have a low temper (they're soft) so esp. large teeth can very easily be bent out of shape by rough handling, and old saws are rarely in pristine shape.
    – Graphus
    Nov 19, 2023 at 7:51
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    Like all old saws this is intended to be user-sharpenable. The specialised files originally intended to file this and similar tooth patterns is still made and still available I just discovered, but TBH I doubt you have to be too too fussy about exact geometry on a saw of this type depending on how much you intend to use it. If quite a bit, the wood(s) you intend to cut, and whether mostly green, part-green or fully air-dried.
    – Graphus
    Nov 19, 2023 at 7:56

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Before I invest in the (large - the saw is 5tpi) file needed, is it possible to sharpen them?

Yes. Like all old saws this is intended to be user-sharpenable.

I'm assuming a cross cut because that's probably what I'd use it for, but maybe these are always rip?

AFAIK these and most similar saws are made for 'bucking' and other crosscutting jobs.

And certainly this pattern — the Great American — is specifically designed for cross-grain cuts. There are minor variations in the various saws identified as having this tooth pattern, as you'll see if you compare your teeth groups and gullets (in width and depth, plus taper/no taper) to other Great American saws.

Sharpening
Good news on the sharpening front is that the files originally intended to sharpen this and similar tooth patterns (which have a teardrop cross-section) are still made and still available, see here and here.1

Then see this thread on crosscutsawyer.com Although it may be worth hunting down further info that clarifies certain details of the tooth geometry and filing method I think the thread has enough information to get anyone started sharpening a saw of this type.


1 I want to also note that these files seem relatively abundant on the seconhand market so vintage files are another possibility. Even if rusty a vintage or older file may be restorable to good user condition, see previous Q&A How to restore old files? for more if interested.

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