My first sweet garage sale old tool find this year. Disston saw w nice etch

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Blog entry by Dan posted 05-09-2011 08:49 PM 7415 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I say this is my first sweet old tool garage sale find this year because I plan on finding many cool vintage tools at garage sales this summer. I love garage sales because you never know what you are going to run into. This is a great example of that. I went out for lunch and on my way back to work I saw a garage sale and I had a few min to spare so I just decided to stop and take a quick look.

Looking around I didn’t see any tools but it just so happened that on a table tucked all the way in the back corner of this garage was a table with two old hand saws marked for 25 cents each. One was complete junk but the other one looked promising as I could tell it had brass screws. The blade was covered in rust and dirt but for 25 cents you cant really go wrong.

When I got home I took a closer look at the saw and I could see just a very faint part of what I believed to be the saws etch. I have cleaned up about a dozen hand saw blades and of those a few had decent etches that I faded by mistake in the cleaning process. I took extra care when cleaning the blade on this one and I am thankful I did as I was able to uncover almost 100 percent of the full etch. When cleaning a saw with an etch its easy to fade it if your not careful. I have learned to always use a sanding block this way you will sand over the etch and not dig down into it like an abrasive pad would do. I cleaned only with mineral spirits and simple green. I learned penetrating oil like WD 40 can fade an etch.

I started right over the area where I believed the etch to be with a sanding block and 600 grit wet/dry paper. On other saws I have used much lower grits to start and I believe I damaged and faded the etches by doing that. Starting with 600 grit sanding block took a bit more time and effort but once I had the rust layer removed I could start to see more and more etch with every pass. Once I had the rust removed and could see the size of the etch I switched to 800 grit paper. I was very careful when working over the etch and I kept checking to make sure I was not fading it with the sanding. I stopped sanding when the etch was clear and decided not to go any further in risk of fading it. I know you can darken a saw etch by using gun blue but I will save that for another day.

I was able to ID the saw by the etch. Its a Handy Hand Saw which was made by Disston in the 1930s. A friend of mine who is a saw collector told me he had not seen one of these before so it could be rare. I don’t plan on restoring it any further especially if its collectible. I think I will hang it up on the wall in my shop.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

7 comments so far

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2095 days

#1 posted 05-10-2011 12:08 AM

My grandpa gave me my first hand saw. It is a Disston D-8. He told me he got it from an old man that lived across town. My grandpa was 65 when he gave me the saw. I am now a 64 year old grandpa and wonder which of my grandsons should get it when I am ready to let it go. You have a good find.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2300 days

#2 posted 05-10-2011 01:23 AM

Grandpa- I am thinking this saw I bought was once passed down before one of the kids decided to sell it for 25 cents. So to help you decide what grandson you should pass the saw down to I would suggest passing down the the grandson who is least likely to sell it. Its sad to see things passed down only to have them sold..

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View DaleM's profile


952 posts in 2803 days

#3 posted 05-10-2011 01:47 AM

Congratulations Dan and thanks for the tips on restoration. I got my old Disston saw from my father-in-law. I did get some other good tools super cheap at a garage sale just yesterday though. I picked up the old Stanley Sweetheart spokeshave first and asked “how much?” to which the man answered “Two dollars. And we both know it’s worth a lot more than that.” I got an old #5 Lakeside plane from early 1900s, an old marking gauge and bevel gauge both from the 1800s and quite a few other things. I’ve never had 15 dollars go so far before. He just wanted to get rid of the things and have them used rather than let them rust. I should just be happy with what I got, but he said all the best tools were already gone.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View dbol's profile


135 posts in 2418 days

#4 posted 05-10-2011 01:55 AM

I have not found any saw at sales yet.
But, I did find a stanley 750 chisel for .25 cents. Missing handle though.

View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2102 days

#5 posted 05-10-2011 06:27 PM

Dan, do you use Evapo-Rust when there is an etch on the sawblade that you want to preserve, or do you only use sanding blocks?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2300 days

#6 posted 05-10-2011 06:59 PM

You can use Evapo-Rust to take the rust off but the Evapo-Rust wont really take off all the crud under the rust. So either way your probably going to have to do a lot of sanding. I have used the Evapo-Rust on some saws but I usually don’t and only because I don’t have a container big enough to submerge the saw blades and let them sit.

Also its not all that much work to sand the rust off of the saws. Its not like the hand planes where you have a lot of hard to reach areas and small parts. I have found that the layer of rust comes off pretty easily but the black stuff under the rust is what takes time… I have heard that oven cleaner works really well for that but I have not tried it yet.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2095 days

#7 posted 05-11-2011 12:40 AM

Dan, I read in one of my magazines that you could use white vinegar for rust removal. They also said to wet rags and wrap larger tools to take less vinegar. Have you tried this? Just curious.

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