Foley Filers and Retoothers 


fun tools that sharpen saws 

What the hell is this thing?!>@?

A Foley Filer is a piece of equipment that sharpens saws, but for most people its an automated way to destroy saw teeth. The retoother shown below is a much easier to use tool which actually cuts new teeth into saw blades.

My Foley Filer is a model 387, probably the most common model you will come across in the wild. My retoother is a model 32000, the only one I have ever seen of that model number, but it is very similar to both the 385 and 332 which are booth very common models. 

How does it work?

To start using the filer you mount the saw into a carrier bar - on a side note these things are quite fun to find because often times people who sell off a filer have no idea how it works and junk the bars making the filer useless until you can find or make new bars. Once the saw is mounted in the bars you slide them into position and setup the feed adjuster and file. The last 6 words "setup the feed adjuster and file" are the hardest part of using the filer. If the adjustments are off the teeth will be crap. Furthermore, if the teeth are already crap you often times can't use the filer, so....

... that brings us to the retoother!

If a saw is missing teeth or the teeth aren't evenly spaced, or the moons aren't aligned, you often have to retooth the saw first. I don't sharpen many old saws, but I have been making a lot of new ones so I end up using the retoother on nearly every saw. The retoother is a far more important tool than the filer, you can use a retoother on any saw and get nice evenly spaced teeth which you can then hand sharpen or run through the filer, but the filer can't handle saws that don't have nice evenly spaced teeth. 

And of course, as you probably guessed, the retoother needs those fun carrier bars, and as they say on TV, but wait there's more -- you need ratchet bars too! These are difficult to find and command a premium quite frequently, but are essential to using the retoother because they tell the retoother how to put the teeth on the saw. The bars can each do 2-3 different teeth spacing, such as 8.5 points per inch or 4 points per inch. The standard Foley Filer came with 5 ratchet bars:  (13/7/4tpi), (9/5tpi), (8/4.5tpi), (11/6tpi), (10/5.5tpi). The retoother ratchet bars attach to the carrier bars. Once the saw is mounted into the carrier, and the ratchet is attached to the bar, you feed it through the foley retoother. The flywheel is spun which gets the punch and die going and a feed pawl moving that moves the saw to the next tooth.