Saw Rehab and Restoration with Matt Cianci @ Shady Lea Woodworking

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Blog entry by need2boat posted 01-18-2012 03:50 AM 3287 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last weekend I was back up in RI to drop off a whelping box I build one my Aunt’s dog that’s expecting puppies soon. Normally I wouldn’t be so quick to make the trip North on the traffic infested route 95 to new England but I worked the trip around Matt Cianci (writer of the saw blog) latest class offering: Saw Rehab and Restoration at the Shady Lea workshops.

Due to the broad topic Matt Started off the class by asking us, (it just so happened all of were from NJ) what we were most interested in and white boarded a quick outline. Matt had also extending the time of the classes to 10-6 which gave us a more time to dive into things and not feel rushed. The 3 of us unanimously asked about saw smithing. But rather then get ahead of out selves we talked about what to look for when buying used saws. This stared with a bit of history on manufacturers and how to use medallions to tell manufacture dates. This led to a show-in-tell, and eventually full circle to bent saws, how to check blades by bending, what’s worth trying to fix verses hanging on the wall and so on.

Once done we went over some basic theory on metal (read my small brain was hurting) then got to the business at hand. Matt went over the tools he uses, pros cons of steel and wood for a surface to work the metal. In short there is a lot of theory on the best way to do it but experimenting really is the key as old steel is unpredictable do to its age and lack of record keeping. As a side note ear protection is nice to have if you’re going to play with an anvil. Matt brought a few bent saws and showed some popular techniques for dealing with them, we all got the chance to do a little tapping and see results. I was really helpful to see the tools in hand and watching Matt’s speed and rhythmic pattern as he worked a a bent blade. After Smithing we went over the finer points of back saws and how to remove them.

Matt pulling a brass back off his tenon saw we would later repair the handle of

At some point we broke for lunch and changed focused for the rest of the day to restoration of a saw through and the steps needed from start to finish.

So over pizza we talked about removing handles, screw drivers, pros cons how to make a split nut driver and where to buy. This lead into fixing handles, Matt bought a handle with a broken horn and we talked different ways to scarf in a replacement, dealing with grain plus glues and how clamp. Not being the best wood identifier I asked about wood type and we went over poplar type used, the best ways to identify them and sources to buy them. Matt was good enough to offer up some free samples of apple and beach from is stash. Some of which will for sure be used in fixes in the future.

Matt showing David how to get a stuck nut off a handle

Finishing touches on a new horn

With the handle put aside to dry we changed gears to all things cleaning, and best to heal with saw plates. I think anyone who’s messed with old tools has some of their own secrets but Matt went over the products and techniques he likes best. I picked up a nice tip on cleaning the teeth with a brass brush, which did a great job. We also went over the process of raising an etch using gun bluing, something I for sure will give a go to on some of my older saws.

With the time left we went over sanding and refinishing of the handles and random Q/A and of course filing and shaping of teeth. Two of us had taken Matt’s 101 class and brought in examples of saws we had filed. Matt was good enough to look over and give feedback.

Matt getting ready to file in a new nib a nice finishing touch on any clasic saw plate

So as a final review I would happy give it an A+. I was very pleased with the topics we covered and I left with 4 pages of notes and the information and visual memories of watching someone do it and share his pros cons, and for me I know that’s a big help. In the weeks to come I’ll try and post some saws I’ve had the time to work on.


-- Second Chance Saw Works Blog: Positive Rake

7 comments so far

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2916 days

#1 posted 01-18-2012 04:37 AM

Thanks for taking the time to post this, very interesting.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View lysdexic's profile


5255 posts in 2649 days

#2 posted 01-18-2012 04:52 AM

Thanks for posting this review. I’d love to take a class with Matt but he is too far away. I ‘ve sent my one and only saw refurb to him for sharpening and smithing. I was very pleased.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Brit's profile


7386 posts in 2868 days

#3 posted 01-18-2012 10:15 AM

Thanks for the feedback Joe. I’ll have to try the brass bush on the teeth. Usually I either try to avoid them, or if they are really bad, I sand them too.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2802 days

#4 posted 01-18-2012 02:23 PM

Very nice review, the more people that start looking at these tools as tools instead of decorations the better for the industry. I have noted the change at some of the box stores where 5 years ago you could not buy a handsaw that was worth a darn. There are a couple that actually resemble a handsaw in the stores now.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View TheSawWright's profile


7 posts in 2408 days

#5 posted 01-18-2012 04:45 PM

Thanks for the write-up Joe. It was a blast!

-- Matt,

View need2boat's profile


544 posts in 2718 days

#6 posted 01-18-2012 08:36 PM


Due to he brass being softer it will also color the metal slightly as it cleans so you should clean them first as you may need to sand them afterwards depending on how bad they are. I think most of us Shape/sharpen the saw at the end so it’s not a big deal.

Some of my saws I know at the outset I want to change tooth configuration by retoothing them and in that case it’s no a big deal as the old teeth will be chopped off.


-- Second Chance Saw Works Blog: Positive Rake

View AnthonyReed's profile


9757 posts in 2466 days

#7 posted 01-18-2012 09:59 PM

Thanks for posting this Joe.

-- ~Tony

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