First Rehab - The Disston Backsaw

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Blog entry by jcontract posted 02-27-2010 01:06 AM 1335 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m headed to the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop next weekend to take a class on Handcut Dovetails. The first day, we practice saw sharpening. So, rather than practice on one of the “good” saws, I found an old Disston that was in need of some serious help. I figured what’s the worse that can happen. So here she is:

Really rusty for sure, but surprisingly the handle is in good shape, and the saw plate is straight as well. I might just be able to get a working saw out of this one. That’s a bonus since all I really wanted to do was bring it to the class to practice.

The techinque used for cleaning the saw plate was really very simple. Just some automotive wet-dry sandpaper with some WD40 as a lubricant. With a little elbow grease, the saw plate came clean. Astonishingly, as rusted as this saw is, there is noticeable staining, but no pitting!

After about an hours worth of work on both sides, the plate is ready to go. I’m happy that there’s some mirror in the saw plate.

I sanded the handle, hit it with a light coat of wipe on poly, and then dyed the handle with a cherry finish. I added 2 coats of Bison Clear wax as a protectant, and she’s ready to go. What do you think ? Not too bad for a first attempt?

Here’s a couple more. I’m working on my photography as well, thanks Andy. Please post feedback to those who know what they’re doing. Thanks.

3 comments so far

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3821 days

#1 posted 02-27-2010 02:48 AM

It’s a great looking saw, nice work on bring this classic back to life. It sure beat anything new these days. You might want to check out Popular Woodworker blog site…,category,Saws.aspx...I believe some where in this section is a blog on sharpening saws. Thanks for posting your refurbish classic…Blkcherry

View GlenGuarino's profile


166 posts in 3012 days

#2 posted 02-27-2010 03:51 PM

You did a nice job on the saw. Dovetails are fun to do, I love doing them. Jere Osgood taught me how to do them 30 years ago. We have a old house built in 1927. A number of years ago I renovated our kitchen, all the drawers are dovetailed.
Have fun,


View jcontract's profile


84 posts in 3086 days

#3 posted 02-27-2010 06:45 PM

Thank you Glen. I’m a big fan of your work. You visited the Central Jersey Woodworkers and gave a presentation on design and brought a few of your tables along. As I guy just starting out, I really appreciate any feedback.

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