January 6, 2013

Foley-Belsaw Model 387 versus Foley Model 61 saw filer

 If you are looking for a saw filer and have wondered what the difference between them is, here is a brief comparision.  There are the Model 61 and other older ones, the 387 and SF-1000, and the Model 200 which is rare and about which I know next to nothing.

My experience is with the Model 61, but yesterday I set up a Model 387 to get it ready for a new home soon.  I thought the filer had had a little use, but when I plugged it in the motor ran in reverse, so apparently it had not been used at all.  After lubrication, making the adjustments, reversing the motor leads, and smoothing a few of the wearing parts that were not broken in, I pulled a few hand saw blades out of the scrap bucket and filed away.  Here is what I learned:

Models 387 and SF-1000 will give fast results with saws that are in good condition, meaning regularly spaced teeth that have previously been competantly filed by hand or machine.  If you plan to sharpen for others or otherwise need a quick turnaround, this is the machine.  If a saw has been poorly filed and is run through a 387, it will look worse fast.  The 387 will file broken teeth as long as the feed pawl can catch something, but otherwise a retoothing is necessary.  The 387 or SF-1000 are probably easiest to learn on, and you probably won't break anything on the machine.  If you are filing top of the line saws with high carbon steel, the 387 should give faster results.        

Model 61 and earlier are best for saws with any degree of irregularity.  With patience and a good file, many saws can be redeemed on a Model 61 without retoothing.  The reason is that because of design and wear, there is some side movement in the Model 61's file arm.  This allows it to file a tooth that's too large without breaking it.  The 387 has zero side play in the file arm so when it lands on a large tooth it will wipe it out.  If points per inch are off from one end to the other, the Model 61 will allow you to gradually file the small ones larger and the big ones smaller, as hand filing would.  The Model 387 requires lots of care to avoid reducing the odd teeth to stubs.  The Model 61 has a weak part, the rocker arm, that will break if the machine jams or the vise is tightened too hard.                                  


  1. Thanks for taking the time to post this nice comparison. I am a novice saw filer (to say the least) and I have the chance to buy a used model 387 from a local auction house here in Cheyenne Wyoming. I am unsure if I will as the price is $225 and the machine looks like it has seen a fair amount of use. I always wanted a saw filer but I am a bit unsure. . .

  2. I have a model 61 Foley filer and I need parts help. I also have a retoother Foley of the same vintage but don't know if it is all there. The filer appears to have the wrong vise in front.

  3. Looking for bandsaw Attachment for the 387 filer No. 358578