Antique Craftsman Scroll Saw Project

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Blog entry by William posted 06-09-2012 03:55 AM 9049 reads 2 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Some of you probably have figured out by now that I have a love deep in me for old machines. I love old cars, the engines in particular. I love anything old. However, I can’t stand to see something, just because it’s old, to be put on a wall or a shelf to look at. These old tools, especially, were built to last, built to use.
This leads into my most recent find. I have aquired a scroll saw. I have practically nothing in it besides gas money and time. So here goes.

This is the condition I recieved it in. I know little about it besides it is old, heavy, and has Craftsman on the side of the frame, and on the cover for the gear box. Since cleaning it up, I have found that the tag you normally find on old Craftsman tools with the serial number on it, is gone. So anyone who may be able to shed more light on this saw, I would be deeply appreciative.
I won’t even try to date it since I have seen contrasting information on several websites about saws of this style. From what I can tell though, and this is highly speculative at this time, this is what I’ve learned. The saw was made by Walker-Turner for Sears back in the forties or fifties. One website I visited though dates this saw as no newer than 1943, so I just can’t be sure.
Everything is cast iron or rough ground aluminum. There is no plastic. The dust cover for the lawer shaft was made of denim. The gasket that I had to replace on the gearbox cover was made of leather. It uses 6 3/8” coping saw blades. It has a twenty four inch throat. As per the cover’s instructions, it uses SAE 50 oil in the gearbox.

The only thing I could do was to start tearing into it. First I ran to town and found some blades and the proper oil for it. I found the SAE 50 oil at NAPA, and the blades at my favorite hardware store, Hayden’s Hardware.
I had to replace the leather gasket on the gearbox cover. I really would have like to keep the original gasket, but since rubber would be less prone to leaks, I cut up an old inner tube and made a new gasket.
The denim dust boot on the gearbox shaft was in one piece until I started putting chemicals on it to clean everything, at which time it bit the dust the first time I pulled on it. So I scrounged up some old jeans and some needle and thread from my wife and made a new dust boot.
This is the first scroll saw I’ve ever messed with that has a gearbox. I love the way this thing works. It is amazingly simple. It works almost like a miniature cam shaft. It has a concentric piece on the vertical shaft that rides on another concentric piece on the horizontal shaft. The verticle piece has a little scoop that, each time it dips down into the oil, picks up a little bit and slings it all over everything to keep it lubricated.

I then carefully installed my new dust boot and gearbox cover. Then I filled the gearbox to the fill line with the proper oil and turned it by hand a bit to make sure the seal around the pulley shaft did not leak. It was good, so I was ready to move on.

After much scrubbing, the frame was looking pretty good, but I did see a few rust spots here and there. I sanded the rust spots good and cleaned them up with carburator cleaner, which I have found to be very effective at eating away rust if that’s all you’ve got.

I decided to shoot the frame with a couple of coats of fresh paint to help make sure those rust spots do not return.

Scroll saws do not require a lot of power. It did not have a motor when I got it though, so I figured it may require a little more than what came with it when I got it.
The smallest motor I had lying around was a half horse. It just happens, it has Craftsman on it because it came off of an old band saw I bought long time ago for parts for another band saw I had. The motor is supposed to mount on a saddle assembly, which I don’t have, but I am just interested in getting it running for now. I can come back later and redesign the saddle assembly.

I added a switch. I did not want to actually have to unplug it each time I wanted to stop the motor.

It took quite a bit of scrubbing on the table. I think there was more rust on it than the rest of the saw in its intirety. After getting it all cleaned up though, I decided to paint the edges of it to match the frame. Then, since it was sold old and had had so much rust on it, I applied several coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax to the table top.

I still have to do some fine tuning to it. The blade is not perfectly square with the table. It had gotten to be a long day by the time I made it to this point though. Before calling it a day though, I had to see it cut. So I grabbed the closest piece of scrap wood I could find and played a tiny bit. I may only be proud of my work, but I swear it seemed to me that this saw cuts three quarter inch thick wood at least twice as fast as my modern scroll saws. This thing is a beast.

The only thing I really have left that I feel has to be done is to fine tune the blade to be perfectly square, and I really wish to get one of those paint pens thingies and make that Craftsman raised letters on the frame stand out more. I hope you all have enjoyed seeing my latest toy.


30 comments so far

View JL7's profile


8662 posts in 2966 days

#1 posted 06-09-2012 04:09 AM

Man – you didn’t mess around – got her looking good in short order…...have a blast….......

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2615 days

#2 posted 06-09-2012 04:10 AM

William you got it looking good ,that is a beast ,i think your right that craftsman raised letters would set it off .thats when they made some lasting tool in the day

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#3 posted 06-09-2012 04:26 AM

Thanks ya’ll.

The thing I love most about tools such as this old saw is that you can work on them. They were simple because, back then, they didn’t try to add bells and whistles. They just made solid tools that done what they were supposed to do.
After cutting that first test piece tonight, I honestly believe I may wind up using this saw as much, if not more, than my modern Craftsman saw.

Well I’m off to bed now.
Ya’ll have a good evening and I’ll check on you all tomorrow evening.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2921 days

#4 posted 06-09-2012 09:44 AM

This is really great William! You did a great job bringing his back to life! Just incredible! In this day of ‘disposable electronics’ where the warranty for an item cost more than replacing things and people just toss things out and fill up the landfills, it is so good to see someone who appreciates the good quality in which things were made. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#5 posted 06-09-2012 10:43 AM

Thank you Sheila.
I do love old tools. You, for one though, also know how much I love scroll saws.
As I lie in bed last night I started to thinking about this. Between the two saws I normally use for different functions, this antique saw, saws I have bought for parts for the other saws, and my shop made saw, I now own seven different scroll saws.

I’m hoping to hit a few yard sales this morning. Who knows. I may just find another scroll saw today.


View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6856 posts in 3980 days

#6 posted 06-09-2012 10:44 AM

Great job, WIlliam.

That saw is a beauty.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#7 posted 06-09-2012 11:03 AM

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2921 days

#8 posted 06-09-2012 11:21 AM

A couple of years ago we were at Sandy Cove, a beach on the Digby Neck (which faces the Bay of Fundy side across from Maine) and we came across an old scroll saw. Here is a picture of the beach where we found it:

It was located nearly by the end of the point shown. You can’t even see it from the picture, but it is there. Here is what it looked like:

It even had a plate on it with the manufacturer:

I SOOO wanted to take it home! It was just sitting there! Like someone was scrolling on the beach! It weighed a ton and in order to get it even to a road or a truck we would have had to move it all the way back around the point, as there were hills right behind the beach as you see in the first picture with no access. I even had thoughts about getting some type of raft and floating it back to where it would be close to the car. But my ex didn’t want to bother. :(

I have been back to that beach since, and the saw is gone, which means that someone did take the time to pick it up. I still wonder how it got there in the first place and what became of it. I hope that someone took the time as you did, to perhaps give it a second life.

I haven’t thought of that saw in a while, but reading your story brought it back to mind. I am happy you thought that it was worth the time to clean up and resurrect. That is so cool! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#9 posted 06-09-2012 11:43 AM

That’s interesting Sheila.
I too wonder how it could have gotten on the beach, that far away from conveniently getting it back to civilization. I’m afraid that I agree with you. I’d have had to built a makeshift raft, or whatever it would have took to get it back home.

As for the one I have, it was located about thirty miles from me. I really did not feel like driving to get it the other day. The guy on the phone though told me that I could get it if I came THAT day. The next day it was going to the curb to be picked up for garbage. So what was I to do? I had to go get it. I couldn’t stand the thought of this saw going to the garbage dump.


View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3436 days

#10 posted 06-09-2012 11:48 AM

Great job. as always William. You really got a lot done yesterday. Just something that you may want to take at look at is some tiny applicator brushes that Lee Valley has:,190,43034&ap=1
They may be good for some of your stuff…...they are inexpensive too.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2921 days

#11 posted 06-09-2012 11:50 AM

Well, it wouldn’t fit in the Mustang and I really didn’t know anyone here in Nova Scotia who could help. I thought about it a lot, and a couple of years ago when Keith and I went back to that beach, it was gone. Hopefully it didn’t wash out when the tide came back in.

I am really glad you got it and refurbished it. I also think that is a great example for your kids to see. You teach them good values and I am sure that will stick with them throughout their lives.

Have a good day today! :) Sheila

Oh, and Lee Valley has free shipping going on right now! I forgot to mention that in my blog. Just so you know.

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View StumpyNubs's profile


7592 posts in 2801 days

#12 posted 06-09-2012 12:52 PM

WOW! You did a great job on that!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 2207 days

#13 posted 06-09-2012 01:07 PM

Beautiful work William!!!! You should definitely do the letters, that will really make it sing:).

Thanks for sharing.

Your Friend,


-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

View helluvawreck's profile


31105 posts in 2867 days

#14 posted 06-09-2012 01:11 PM

Nice job, William. That beautiful and very well done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3019 days

#15 posted 06-09-2012 02:45 PM

Yep, do the lettering and make the tool proud to work for you! You did a really fine job making it look good.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

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