A frame saw is a style of rip saw featuring a flexible slender blade held between two opposing sides of a four-sided wooden frame. Use sugar maple wood to build the frame saw because of its strength and resilience. This is often called "hard maple" and is also used to make butcher's blocks, pool cue shafts and bowling pins. Sugar maple also features elaborate grains such as flame maple, quilt maple and birdseye maple that make the wood ideal for staining.
Building the Wooden Frame
Build the wooden frame using a ratio of 3:4 for the arms to the stretchers. For example, if the stretchers are 18 inches long, the arms should be 24 inches long. The arms are positioned parallel to the saw blade, while the stretchers are perpendicular to the blade to hold it in place. This design makes the frame saw easy to balance and track a line when in use. Connect the stretchers to the arms with half-blind dovetails. This joint is more resistant to the stresses of sawing than a mortise and tenon. Cut a 1/4-inch carriage bolt slot into the middle of one stretcher and a 1/4-inch hexagonal-head slot into the middle of the other stretcher. The carriage bolt prevents the blade from twisting, while the hexagonal-head slot will be fitted with a wingnut at the end to adjust the tension of the saw blade. Use a hacksaw to cut a shallow slit in the middle of each slot. The saw blade will slide through the slits to be held in position by the bolts. Use a rasp or file to shape the arms into comfortable handles since you'll be using both hands to guide the frame saw when in use. Apply stain to the wooden frame to give it a personal touch and enhance the patterns in the grain of the sugar maple wood.
Installing the Blade
File flats on the sides of each metal bolt that you'll use to hold the saw blade in place. Always do a dry run before any drilling to be sure that the holes in the bolts will line up with the holes in the saw blade. Drill a hole through each bolt, and then drill a hole through each end of the saw blade where the bolts have been measured to fit. When you're certain the measurements are correct, fit the saw blade into place on the wooden frame, and insert each bolt to hold the blade in place. Secure the carriage bolt with a small nut and the hexagonal-head bolt with a large wingnut to adjust the tension of the saw blade.