Frame 15; Saws Review

September 5, 2014   Hours spent building to date:  98

I have worked my way back to frame 15, which sits under the driver’s seat and fridge.  The holes are for lightening and running plumbing and electrical.  Just noticed in posting the picture that it still needs slots for heavy fore-and-aft girders that run from the cabin all the way back to the engine.

Since all this sawing is pretty boring reading, I thought I would talk a bit about the saws themselves.  When I first received the plans from Mark, I saw all the straight, angular lines inherent in a Vee bottom and knew that my 30-year-old Skilsaw was not up to the job.  So I went off the deep end and bought a Festool 55, a precision circular saw from Germany that really lives up to its billing.  It is quiet, smooth, and safe.  The blade only comes out of the housing when it is cutting. The only time I’ve ever seen it is looking up into the saw itself.  The amazing thing is the Festool’s ability to cut perfectly straight lines by riding on an aluminum sled that sits tenaciously on top of the wood using some sort of anti-slip neoprene-like plastic on its bottom.  The cuts come out chip free and are better than the “factory” edge on the plywood itself.

Since my wife occasionally reads this blog, I will cover the cost factor in woodworkers code: 7X good circular saw at HD.  But worth it given the safety factor and precision.

The Festool is heavy, though, so for a short or curved cut, a bought a Rockwell Versacut, since my old 12-volt DeWalt’s batteries were shot and it just didn’t have the poop for 3/4 ply.  Another star.  The little 3-inch blade will cut the sweeping curves inherent in boats with no problem.  It makes a pretty smooth cut, and again, has a plunge feature that makes it really safe.  About $100 online.  I don’t think you need a 7 1/4-inch circular saw if you have this one.

My old Porter Cable jig saw is working just fine for curves.  I bought a bunch of Porter Cable “clean cut” blades for ply on sale, and they are much better than the hardware store or HD alternatives.

Every once in a while you want to finish a cut or do a short notch without plugging in, so a Japanese pull saw works great.  I got mine from WoodenBoat.  The cost of these has come way down, and they are much handier than a dovetail or back saw.  My students at the Workshop were amazed at the speed with which they could cut softwoods with this saw and it went from boat-to-boat all weekend.

These are great tools and I am glad to have them.  But I think one of the great things about Mark’s design is that if you want a look that is a bit more rough-and ready than what I’m going for you could build this whole boat with a $49 Black and Decker jigsaw from Walmart.


Frame 15

Frame 15

Tardis Project Saw Collection

Tardis Project Saw Collection

Big Dawg in Action

Big Dawg in Action

Lest we forget -- my faithful old Sears bandsaw that I use for all the fiddly stuff that no other saw will handle

Lest we forget — my faithful old Sears bandsaw that I use for all the fiddly stuff that no other saw will handle

The saws have been working really hard

The saws have been working really hard



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