This summer, I picked up several saws at garage sales around town, with plans to restore them. I have no experience restoring saws, but this must be the best way to learn. Well, after spending several months refinishing my shop (more on that later – I have a lot of pictures, etc. to collect before I can post about it), I finally got some time to work on one of them.
I decided to start with the backsaw, since I haven’t got a decent one as of yet. Here’s the saw, in it’s original state (except I had already removed the nuts). The saw is a Warranted Superior, a 14” blade and 12 TPI, but other than that I don’t know much about it.
Here’s a close up of some of the rust on it. It looks like it was maybe sitting in the bottom of a drawer full of metal bits, based on the way the rust is clustered on the blade. But all of it is surface rust, there doesn’t appear to be any major pitting, really.
I took the saw apart, and soaked it in a little bit of Evapo-rust overnight.
After the night, and a rinse-off, this is the result.
You can see that there is a spot of stubborn rust that just wouldn’t come off.
Another 8 hours in the tub took care of that spot, and left the saw looking pretty good, with the exception that it is covered in some black gunk. Anybody familiar with Evapo-rust knows what I’m talking about. It’s kind of like the black powder you get from sanding metal – not really a problem, it just uglies up the metal.
The blade is good to go now, I think, but I really wanted it to look nice. If I’m going through this trouble, I might as well keep it up. A quick sanding up to 400 grit and an application of paste wax later, and the blade looks pretty good. Not new, of course, but very usable.
On to the sharpening! I don’t have a saw vise yet. I plan on building one in the future, but for now, I just wanted to see how sharpening was without worrying about adding more projects to the queue. I’ve got enough on my plate right now.
Anyway, instead of using a saw vise, I followed some advice I found somewhere and just clamped the blade in a workmate-type thing. I can’t say whether or not it worked as well as a saw vise (aside from the obvious problems with hunching over), but it certainly seemed to work to my expectations. I didn’t take any pictures of sharpening the saw, since you’ve all seen that before.
The sharpening required quite a bit of work. The saw was severely out of joint, so I filed down the teeth. Then I shaped the teeth so that they were all even. Then I set the teeth, put a small flat on them, and filed them to the proper shape and sharpness. All in all it took about an hour, which I was pleasantly surprised about.
Here is the newly sharpened saw, now reassembled.
A picture may be nice, but that doesn’t really tell you how the sharpening went. So here’s a video of me doing some test cuts on a mystery piece of wood I got from a pallet. Be warned, I have very little practice with a western backsaw – I’ve been using Japanese-style pullsaws so far – so my technique may need some work. None the less, the saw seems to work well. At least, it cuts better than any of my pullsaws do.
The next step is to replace the awful handle. It’s ugly and uncomfortable – that’s two for two strikes. I think I’ll do an open handle, styled like the beautiful Lie-Nielsen dovetail saws. My only concern is that this backsaw is a bit bigger than the usual saws you see with the open pattern handle – the blade length is 14”. Does anybody have any experience with this? Would you recommend I use a closed handle pattern instead, or will an open handle hold up fine? I’d love to hear your comments.
Thanks for looking. I should have the next part, with the new handle, some time in the next couple of weeks.