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Disston Backsaw Restoration

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Blog entry by Jorgearaujo posted 07-28-2015 08:19 PM 1865 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So after restoring the Brace and Bit last week I got really hooked on restoring old tools. There is something about old tools… that is really amazing and bringing them back to life is so much fun. Ok so to make one thing clear, I like restoring these tools and using them, not just collecting them. I think that these tools where made to be used not just put up for display.

I also filmed the restoration process and the video is here:

So this week I won an Ebay auction and for $10 I got this:

A Henry Disston & Sons backsaw. There were three models numbers for the basic backsaw #4 (Dark blue back) #5 (Brass Back) and #7 (Bright Steel Back), this one is a #7.
Doing some research mainly using the site www.disstonianinstitute.com I was able to figure out by the shape of the handle and the medallion that this saw was manufactured between 1896 and 1917.

As you can see the handle and medallions will need some cleaning, also the top horn must have broken off at some point because I can see a blue line and there are two little screws that somebody put in to add strength which will have to come out.

The blade and back look to be in pretty good shape, they will need just some cleaning, polishing and of course sharpening.

Oops I spoke too soon. Removing the handle revealed that the saw blade holes where the screws hold it where very badly damaged… Yikes, I was not expecting this… Gonna have to figure something out!

Ok so I was able to disassemble the saw… Step one complete. Now how the hell and I going to restore this thing… Well lets start with the stuff that will require some time to either soak or dry…

So I put the Brass Medallion and screws into a cup with Evapo-Rust to soak in for a while…

And I filled in the little screw holes on the top of the horn with some Timbermate… my favorite wood filler.

And after thinking about how I was going to deal with the holes in the blade I decided I would fill them in with JB Weld Steel Stick putty and move the blade around a bit and make new holes later. So I turned the lights off, closed the shop and called it a night.

Day 2: I got up pretty early…at least pretty early for a Sunday that is. I decided I would start with cleaning and polishing the Brass Medallions and screws. I used a combination of Evapo-Rust and T-9 Rust Free and a Grime cleaner with a brass brush by hand. Then once I got everything as clean as possible I tool them to the grinder with a brass wire wheel, being careful to only do very light strokes to remove dirt and grime but not hurt the pieces. I then attached a buffing wheel to my grinder and using some jewelers rouge I buffed them all up…. Oooh shiny.

Next I focused on the back, spine of the saw. I cleaned it basically the same way as the brass screws, with rust remover, grime remover and a wire wheel on the grinder. Then I put the buffing wheel back on and made it shine.

Next to protect it from rust I added a coat of BALLISTOL, this oil is originally for cleaning guns, but works awesome on tools.

Next I started working on the handle, cleaning, sanding, sanding and more sanding.

After I sanded the entire piece and got it where I like it, I added a coat of BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil), left it to dry and after a day or so I added a coat of Dark Walnut Watco Danish Oil, let it dry sanding and adding another coat and again and again… I did 4 coats total.

Back to Sunday, I spent most of the morning in the shop and everything is better “with a little help from your friends”

Gizmo and Gadget decided they wanted to help. Don’t worry about the wood chips all over the boys, their favorite part of the shop with my compressed air to clean them off…. they love that thing…LOL!

Ok as you can probably tell by now I have been avoiding the saw blade because I wasn’t sure how this JB weld would work, if it would even work and how hard it was going to be to sand it down flush to the plate.

Using my random orbit sander and an 100 grit sandpaper I went to work on the JB Weld, it was actually a lot easier than I thought… go figure.

Ok that looks good. I hope it holds, although since I am going to be making new holes it won’t really matter, but hopefully it will add a little strength to the plate.

I cleaned, the blade with rust remover, wire wheel and buffed it the same as the back. Oooh Shiny.

At this point I put the blade back into the handle so I could mark where the new holes will go.

Then I put it in my vise and started sharpening the saw. I used Paul Sellers method which is pretty awesome I must say… Check out his sharpening video here www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA5DixEaaUo

Ok I am ready to start the Assembly of the saw….weeee!

I started by adding the back onto the blade first. I put the blade on my vise and using a dead blow mallet I gently pounded it into place.

Next I took it to my drill press and started drilling the holes…. holy cow I had no idea how hard this steel was going to be…. the first drill bit I tried wasn’t working so I switched to a titanium coated bit and that worked…

Then I put the handle back on and I was down… Looks good I think…

GET READY FOR SOME SEXY TOOL PORN!!!!

Well I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you.



7 comments so far

View jdmaher's profile

jdmaher

384 posts in 2047 days


#1 posted 07-28-2015 09:23 PM

I DID enjoy it!

Looks like it was tons of fun!!!

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Don Broussard's profile (online now)

Don Broussard

3024 posts in 1719 days


#2 posted 07-28-2015 09:29 PM

Very well done! I’m guessing there was no etch on the plate. By the way, how about a picture of the freshly-sharpened saw taking a cut?

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

View Jorgearaujo's profile

Jorgearaujo

51 posts in 1219 days


#3 posted 07-28-2015 09:55 PM

No Etch on the plate unfortunately and about the cutting… I did video it but I forgot to take a picture… Ooops. Cuts like a dream though…. oh here is a still from the video.


Very well done! I m guessing there was no etch on the plate. By the way, how about a picture of the freshly-sharpened saw taking a cut?

- Don Broussard


View Don Broussard's profile (online now)

Don Broussard

3024 posts in 1719 days


#4 posted 07-28-2015 10:46 PM

Good job on the video documentation too. I whisked right past the video link. I watched the video and saw how well the sharpened saw performed. Great job, Jorge!

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

View liljimy7's profile

liljimy7

31 posts in 503 days


#5 posted 07-29-2015 05:24 PM

Nice restoration….
Curious, how did you get spline off the blade….
Jim

-- JFS.brand (woodworker) Northville, MI jfs.brand@gmail.com

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23214 posts in 2334 days


#6 posted 07-29-2015 05:43 PM

It looks very nice. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Jorgearaujo's profile

Jorgearaujo

51 posts in 1219 days


#7 posted 07-29-2015 06:49 PM

Thank you Charles…. Jim I used a dead blow hammer and little piece of scrap ebony, first i used a piece of scrap oak but it was too weak and broke, but the ebony worked without damaging the spine. Keep in mind that the saw has to be one that the spine comes off, some modern day saws the spines are not removable. In the video I show how I did that.
Here is a still from the video.


Nice restoration….
Curious, how did you get spline off the blade….
Jim

- liljimy7


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