Saturday, April 12, 2008

Carrier Bars

Foley 387 saw filers can be found all over the place these days. Unfortunately, the carrier bars are usually MIA. You can find replacements on ebay, but they cost a small fortune. So, why not make your own? You only need one carrier to do both panel and backsaws.

The dimensions are going to be for straight saws. Foley also made a 'crowned' carrier bar, but that'd be a bit difficult to replicate.


The horizontal bar is 44" long. The critical dimensions are the thickness (1/8") and the width (1"). The last 1" of the ends are cut at an angle for easy insertion into the machine.Pairs of holes are drilled & tapped for the vertical bars at 13.75", 18", 22", and 30.25" from the left side (nominally). The pairs are 1" on center, with the center of the pair at the distances given. For example, the second set of holes is drilled & tapped at 17.5" and 18.5" (not 18").

The vertical bars are also 1/8" thick. They are 1.5" wide and 6.75" long with a 5/16" channel cut through the middle.

In between the vertical and horizontal bar are a pair of spacers that the machine screws go through. The OD is 0.435" and the ID is 0.20", but those aren't critical. The important dimension for the spacers is the length, which is 0.55".

The screws are flathead and use a 1/8" hex head wrench and are countersunk into the vertical bars. The threads are 1/4 - 28 (or finer). The total length of the screw from top to tip is 0.795". That might be a 3/4" screw or a cut-down 1" screw.

For attaching the saw to the carrier, I like the older versions which just use a wing nut. The newer carriers use a cam lock, which is a real PITA in practice.

Below are a couple of pics for the backsaw holder. Saws without a back will use piece that looks almost identical, except that it has a bend on both sides, not just one (i.e., channel iron, not angle iron). Each piece is 1.5" x 1.5" and 1/8" thick. The bend will make it stand up about 1/4"



Feel free to post questions or comments or even links to this page. I'll try to keep it updated with the latest news on these antiquated machines!


  1. Hi Matt,
    I have a Foley Mod 32000 retoother but no carrier bars. Are they the same as for the saw filer?

    I have a newer Foley handsaw filer with the bars so I could use them if need be.
    Jim Allen

  2. Don't you need the ratchet bars to go on those carriers so you can get the right TPI when feeding through a retoother or filer?

  3. Hi Mat,

    I hope you’re still around, alive and kicking. I recently bought a Foley 387 at a yard sale for $50. As usual, no carrier bar or clamps, so a machinist friend and myself made a set to your exact specs and they work perfectly. Thank you so much.

    There seems to be 2 gauges that when placed on the carrier bar, give the proper height for clamping the handsaw for filing. Of course I don’t have these, and am very doubtful that they can be acquired.

    In this regard, would you be able to tell me how high above the carrier bar or above the vise jaws the saw teeth are to be for optimal saw filing. Maybe even a picture of an actual gauge, or a drawing with the dimensions.

    I presently just use a little ¾” block of wood on top of the bar, left and right to make the height even.

    If you’d like any pictures of my setup, let me know. I am retired, but do sharpening out of my garage for the public. I used to do just about everything except hand saws, because of failing eyesight, but with this new / old filer, I can offer hand saw filing as well. My first attempt yesterday, on a rusty old saw seemed to work quite well.

    Thanks, hope to hear from you soon.

    Ron Cumming

    1. email to Mat did not go through. Ron Cumming

    2. I just called Foley company, and it just so happens that they still have replacement gauges for the carrier bar, so I've ordered them and I'm good to go.