Okay, so Tom Law has five or six hundred handsaws in his house. So what? At least he knows what to do with them, including how to make those gleaming handles without power tools?or sandpaper.

Before Law became a custom builder, he worked as a union carpenter. On one remote bridge project with no power, his job was to file handsaws so the crew could keep cutting. From then on, his expertise in sharpening and using handsaws would come in handy, even though he later became an expert with power tools.

Take that nasty hip roof he built a few years back. It was so chopped up with dormers, hips, and valleys the whole frame had only two pairs of common rafters. The rest of the rafters had compound angles that a circ saw couldn't cut?so it was time to make those handsaws sing. Talk about the ultimate cordless tool!

Law goes to his saw quiver when it's time for finish work, too, like scribing a cabinet edge or filler piece, coping trim, and cutting base to a wavy floor. He says these jobs are easier and just as fast with a light, easy-to-carry handsaw as they are with a jig saw or circ saw. Finally, he'll tell you about woodworking and how some of the greatest carpentry in the world was done before electricity. A good sawyer, he says, can cut a pencil line in half with a sharp saw?try that with a jumping jig saw.

Law can tune and sharpen every kind of saw and has restored many in his collection. But the best collectors know what to do with their tools, and watching Tom Law cut with a handsaw is like poetry in motion.

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Contact Katy Tomasulo at 202-736-3303 or ktomasulo@hanley-wood.com.