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 from holster wear 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