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Going Galoot #5: I came, I saw . . . . . .

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Blog entry by JayT posted 119 days ago 941 reads 6 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: In search of the perfect dovetail Part 5 of Going Galoot series Part 6: Time to step up to the re-plate. »

Shop’s Log: March 27, 2014

Part of going galoot involves finding quality hand tools. While there are now some manufacturers making high quality hand tools (Lie-Nielsen or Lee Valley/Veritas, for instance) there are also a tremendous amount of vintage tools that make great users if you are willing to put in a little work. I have refurbished squares, adjustable bevels and a ton of hand planes, but was now ready to move on to another vital tool for the galoot ….... hand saws.

My till was full of saws picked up here and there for bargain prices that needed a little love, so I set out to get them back to working order. This past weekend, I buckled down and got a bunch cleaned up, like this Disston No 7

And this Phoenix panel saw

One of the fun parts of saws is all the different medallions and etches that are out there, like this custom one:

The biggest problem is that as you remove the corrosion from a saw plate, many times the etch loses its contrast. On the “handsaw thread”, several of us had been discussing how to bring back the detail of an etch, so that is the focus of this blog post.

LJ Tim had posted a link on bringing out an etch using brass darkening solution. That is not a commonly found chemical, but there is an easy to find substitute—more on that in a bit.

First thing is to clean up the saw plate, being careful to not remove too much metal around the etch. Tonight I worked over a 26 inch Disston No 4 that I picked up last week with it’s partner Stanley miter box.

After scrubbing off the corrosion and grime with a Scotchbrite pad, here is what I had for an etch.

Legible, but not very easily, so let’s see what we can do to darken it up. First important ingredient is:

Wipe the saw plate down with a rag or paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol to remove any oil, grease, dirt or fingerprints. Keep turning to a fresh part of the rag and repeating until it comes up completely dirt-free. The metal must be very clean or the next step will not work. Now for the brass darkening substitute, I use:

This cold bluing solution is available nearly anywhere that carries hunting and gun supplies, even many Wal-Marts will have it either by itself or in a gun restoration kit. Look for it near the gun cleaning supplies. I always keep some around to touch up bluing on my handguns, but it has proven just as valuable for tool restorations and modification. Plus, it’s pretty cheap.

Using a cotton swab, spread the bluing solution liberally over the etch and surrounding area.

(Sorry for the glare, my shop is set up for good light for woodworking, not glare free photography)

Don’t worry about the blotchiness, it will take care of itself as you move on.

After letting the bluing set for a minute or so, rinse off the saw plate with cold water and dry. Then, using some 400 grit sandpaper on a sanding block, gently sand over the blued area. Since bluing is a chemical reaction, causing oxidation of the metal, you do not have to wait for anything to dry. Using a block allows the sandpaper to remove the bluing on the flat, while not touching the metal in the etch.

After this, repeat the whole process. Alcohol, bluing, rinse, sand. You will notice that the chemical reaction is probably darker and deeper in color the second time and even more so the third, causing the etch to come out even a bit more.

The whole process only takes 10-15 minutes, and the results are so worth it. After finishing, make sure to wax the plate for some rust protection or you will get to start the whole restoration process over again in the near future.

Oh, the rest of the Disston.

. . . . . . now to conquer saw sharpening.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835



16 comments so far

View walden's profile

walden

443 posts in 621 days


#1 posted 119 days ago

These look great! I like the trick for bringing out the etching. From one galoot to another, is your whole shop hand tools at this point?

-- "When and if the day comes a lion is on my roof, I am hiring a realtor." ShaneA

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1221 days


#2 posted 119 days ago

Jay – your glueing was more effective than other examples that I’ve seen. Great job.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View JayT's profile

JayT

2087 posts in 809 days


#3 posted 119 days ago

Thanks guys.

walden, no, I would still be considered a hybrid woodworker, though leaning heavily to the hand tools side. I have a table saw, sliding miter saw and drill press for machinery and a bunch of power hand tools that get used mostly for home improvement chores. I’m not ready to tackle those tasks with hand tools, yet.

Once the miter box is fully functional again, though, I may very well sell the powered miter saw. I also am planning to purchase a lunchbox planer to speed up lumber prep and dimensioning. I can do it with hand planes, but my project queue gets additions much faster than I’m crossing them off and the biggest time drain is rough planing.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View walden's profile

walden

443 posts in 621 days


#4 posted 119 days ago

I think you’ll find the hand miter box is more accurate than the sliding miter saw. I agree with you on the lunchbox planer. If you can get one side flattened by hand, which doesn’t take too long, the planer would save a lot of time on the other side. It is very time consuming to try and get that second side flat, parallel to the first, and have all your lumber come out at exactly the same thickness. Although I’m all hand tools now, if I were to buy one power tool, the lunch box style planer would be it.

-- "When and if the day comes a lion is on my roof, I am hiring a realtor." ShaneA

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

1814 posts in 850 days


#5 posted 119 days ago

Thanks for the bluing instructions, Jay. I was aware from other reading that the plate needs to be oil-free, but the alcohol tip was new to me. I also read that you shouldn’t touch the blued area with your fingers, lest the oil from the skin alter the chemical reaction. I might give it a shot in between other project work this weekend. BTW, yours did come out really crisp.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View swirt's profile

swirt

1935 posts in 1570 days


#6 posted 119 days ago

Nice work JayT Those look great.

Ammonia is an even a better degreaser than alcohol but it stinks up your shop worse.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1221 days


#7 posted 119 days ago

I meant to type bluing not glueing. Damn you – autocorrect.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View JayT's profile

JayT

2087 posts in 809 days


#8 posted 119 days ago

Always blaming autocorrect, Scott. I think you just brandished so many ginormous words in the other threads, you forgot how to communicate with us woodworking Neanderthals. :-)

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

3893 posts in 1049 days


#9 posted 119 days ago

JayT great post. I have several saws with a faint etch so this is perfect. I have the same Mitre saw, but the tote is in really rough condition with substantial checking. I’ve got a line on some apple wood and so maybe a new tote in the future.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

View terryR's profile

terryR

2969 posts in 907 days


#10 posted 119 days ago

Thanks for sharing, JayT! You really made it look easy.
Must try again…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Pezking7p's profile

Pezking7p

841 posts in 250 days


#11 posted 119 days ago

Very nice blog. Easy process. The saw looks great!

-- -Dan

View Slyy's profile

Slyy

1091 posts in 254 days


#12 posted 119 days ago

JayT that really turned out well. I’ve got a few that have hardly legible/ weak etches that if love to try this out on.

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View JayT's profile

JayT

2087 posts in 809 days


#13 posted 119 days ago

Thank you, guys. It really is that easy, though results will be 100% based on what you have to work with. The Disston above came out well. The Phoenix also shown above had the etch so shallow and enough corrosion that even with the bluing, it is barely legible in person and not at all in a photo.

I’d love to shine the plate up more, but would totally lose the top part of the etch, so it is what it is.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View Don W's profile

Don W

14633 posts in 1166 days


#14 posted 117 days ago

Well done Jayt. A nice way to merge two of my hobbies. Rifle and tool restoration!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6747 posts in 1750 days


#15 posted 109 days ago

Great work man!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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