last updated on : 06.27.2013
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HOW TO: spacer PACKABLE BOWSAW
Copyright:  Mike Sillett

Contents:

1. Intro
2. Equipment
3. Procedure

photo of a modified bowsaw to make it packable.
A 24 inch bowsaw made 'packable'.

1. Intro

I remember once, long ago, I had taken a roadtrip a few hours from my residence. At a location that looked like it was good mushroom territory I decided to take a walk in the woods so I threw my lightweight pack on my back and took off.
It was during this walk that I discover the most beautiful uprooted / blown over northern white cedar.
From the looks of it I concluded that it had been blown over three or four years before which meant that it had seasoned enough to be lighter weight than if fresh and therefore easy for me to handle on my own.
It was just the thickness at the base that I prefer, just a bit thicker than a foot.
What made it exceptional though was that the trunk was straight as an arrow for about 13 or 14 feet or so and had no limbs for that length.
I always have use for the heartwood of good northern white cedars so this was particularly disappointing because if I would have had my bowsaw with me I would have salvaged me a couple of 6 foot lengths of heartwood. The folding 6 inch pruning saw that was in the pack was the wrong tool for this tree.
It was on that trip that I resolved to always have my bowsaw ( albeit in parts ) in my daypack.

Since that decision years ago It has become second nature to always have the bowsaw with me because it is always in the pack that I grab.
Because I always had it with me there have been many serendipitous wood finds over the years.


2. Equipment

Bowsaw
Hacksaw
Drill and appropriate bit
Screws
Wood insert
A sheath to keep the blade in. I kept the original cardboard sheath from when I bought the blade.


3. Procedure

A bowsaw weighs very little.
I carry a 24" bowsaw all the time when the pack is on the back.
Probably 90% of the time that I take my jaunts in the woods ( pack is always on the back ) I never even think about it much less use it.
I bet it weighs less than a pound.
Such a bowsaw can be pretty formidable though, especially if you have a sharp blade and are not in a hurry.



First thing to do is to remove the blade and cut the bowsaw in half.

photo demonstrating the joint of a modified takedown bowsaw.
The bowsaw was cut in half at the label.

Once it has been cut in half you have some options in putting the halves back together. An insert of some sort will be needed to slide into the hollow halves and some screws, bolts, cotter pins, dowels, etc. to keep the halves attached.

I chose a piece of seasoned hardwood to make an insert from. Mine is approximately a foot long. That length allows about 6 inches of insert to be slid into each hollow.
Ideally you want a piece of wood that has a slight ( very slight ) bend in it, biased away from what the bending stress will take.
I'll explain that later.
Carve it from both ends so that each end fits snugly into the frame of the bowsaw.
It's important that the piece of wood you choose is fully seasoned. Wood shrinks upon drying so if you use just any old piece of wood you will discover pretty soon after making the insert that it has shrunk and become too loose. If the insert gets loose you won't be able to keep the blade taut enough.

photo showing the insert used to keep bowsaw halves together.
I chose short wood screws to keep the halves attached to the insert.
Note that the insert has a bend bias contrary to what stress will be appled when the sawblade is tightened via the clamp at the handle end.

Once you are satisfied that the fit is just right for both halves it's time to put it together. You want the fit to be snug but not so snug that it will be difficult to take apart once together.
Get it right then it's time for drilling holes.

On each half, at the joint ( insert removed at this point ) drill two holes through one side of the metal. It's not necessary for the screws to go through all sides. The screws just keep the halves from separating.

Once the halves have been drilled put the insert in place and drill two holes in one of the halves insert, put the screws in place and then drill two holes in the other half's insert. Put in the two screws.

Now comes the time to put the blade in place and tighten the clamp. The blade needs to be tight or it will not do it's cutting very good. Fortunately, the insert you made is wood. You can always make another.

Make it better the second time!

photo showing a bowsaw that has been modified to be a 'takedown saw'.
This is my packable bowsaw.
With the insert in place and the blade clamped tight this sawblade is very taut.

Now that you know that you have the insert just right you will know you can always throw the parts together any time you need to use the saw. Test it by cutting some wood. You want to be sure it will perform as needed at the time.

photo showing a takedown bowsaw that is being tested to make sure the connections  are good to keep the blade taut.'.
If it will cut nice discs from a length of apple wood ( it's hard ) then I know
that it will perform beautifully when needed in the field.

To pack up the bowsaw remove the blade, put it in a sheath and bend it so it fits the contour of your pack. Separate the halves via the screws. Keep the two halves and the insert ( with the screws kept in the insert for storage ) in other parts of the pack if possible to keep things from banging together

photo showing the bowsaw blades limberness.
The blade is very accommodating as far as bending is concerned.
Once in the pack you will not hardly ever notice it's there.
photo demonstrating the parts of the bowsaw packed in a backpack.
The white curved strip at the upper part of the pack is the blade within it's sheath.
NOTE that I keep one part of the bow in the upper part and the other in the lower part of the pack.

Once you have a bowsaw like this you also will be prepared for almost any tree during trips in the woods.

 


PACKABLE BOWSAW

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