February 19, 2012

Learning the Foley Model 61 Saw Filer

Posting has been infrequent as I learn to use the Foley Model 61 filer.  After a difficult start on a couple of 8 and 9 point saws, I realized that it's much easier to learn on saws with big teeth.  That sounds obvious, but neither the manuals nor the Foley SF-1000 filer video say this.  Jointing is also much easier to learn than bevel filing, of course.

So I dug through the saw pile, found a couple of 7-point crosscuts and some rip saws, and started filing.  Soon, I got to the point where I felt I had learned the basics.  After much more practice jointing, I learned additional techniques that are not mentioned in the manual.  Others are mentioned in the manual, but make much more sense after trying them.

I will be posting more details later, but here are some brief suggestions for learning the filer, specifically Model 61:

-Find practice saws, 5 to 7 point, with teeth that are regular and properly shaped.  Eventually you will learn how to handle misshaped, irregular, and broken teeth, but don't try to learn this in the beginning.

-Use American made files, which will take more abuse than foreign files.  Saw files wear on the edges, and may still cut on the sides but not cut on the edge.  If the file gets slightly warm, that edge is dead.  Mark worn edges with a Sharpie.   

-Adjusting the feed rate will be very important when learning.  I had to concentrate on that for the first few weeks, and was writing down how many turns of Screw H were needed for different points.  Now, I hardly think about it.  In general, when jointing, you want to start with a higher feed rate, then back it off as the teeth become regular.  If the feed rate is a little too high the file will hit the back of the tooth too hard, but won’t break it.  If the feed rate is too low the file can hit the point of the tooth and wipe it out.     

-Don’t try to learn on saws with harder steel.  Based on my experience so far, these include almost all Disston No. 16s and some Disston D-12s.  I have not tried Disston D-15s or D-115s, but I expect these would be hard steel as well.  Disston No. 7s, No. 12s, and most other saws file beautifully.  Of course you want to learn on cheap saws, but some of Disston’s private label saws (Warranted Superior medallions) were also made from hard steel like the No. 16s.   

-Currently I’m having a problem filing the heels of Disston D-8s.  Due to the handle location, the heel sits much closer to the end of the carrier, and the feed pawl tends to push the saw down rather than forward.  Eventually I’ll find a solution and post it.