Vintage Tool Rehab Projects #9: Filling a hole in my saw nest: Rehabbing a panel saw and converting it to rip

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Blog entry by Brad posted 03-08-2012 02:27 AM 4606 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: "Rehabistoring" of a Goodell Pratt Eggbeater Drill Part 9 of Vintage Tool Rehab Projects series Part 10: Rehabbing a Pre-1918 Disston handsaw with a couple of unique curiosities »

I saw a lot of boards in my vise. I also “stub” the toes of my long, 26” hand saws while using them with my saw bench. The bench is the appropriate height for the knee of a 5’ 6” tall galoot. But unfortunately it’s a bit short for my full-sized saws.

Long-story-short, I’ve been on the lookout for a panel rip saw.

Ask and ye shall receive
Fortunately, I came across one while visiting family in Arizona. I found St. James Bay Tool Company on the net (mere miles away)…and subsequently the Warranted Superior 22”, 7 ppi saw picture below as found.

It was reasonably priced and while my saw sharpening skills are still at the beginner level, I knew I could convert it from a crosscut to rip tooth configuration. I knew this because Bob Rozaieski, of Logan Cabinet Shoppe fame [check out his how-to videos and articles—a true artisan], gave me some good tips. I asked him if I could buy a vintage Disston 7 or 8 ppi saw and convert the crosscut filing to a rip filing.

His reply:

“What you are thinking about is a great way to get yourself a finer point rip saw. It’s very easy to refile a crosscut saw to a rip profile (or vise versa). You will have to joint and refile several times to get the entire tooth profile changed, but it’s not that much work.

Just joint down about 1/3 of the tooth height, reshape to a rip profile, joint 1/3 of the height again, refile, etc. until the teeth are completely reshaped. Then set, rejoint and sharpen. I’ve done this countless times, especially with old backsaws, which are often filed crosscut. The process is no different for larger saws.”

Rehabbing the latest addition to the nest
My rehab consisted of the usual steps you can read about elsewhere. There were a couple of twists though.

First, I built myself a tub to soak the plate in Evaporust. The “miracle” in a bottle has become my go to potion to banish rust. But saw plates are very long and a bit wide. After pricing plexiglass and alternative materials at the big-box store (damn that stuff is expensive) I opted to make my own container.

It consists of a 2×8 base with ½” poplar scraps to act as edges. At one end I fitted the edge tightly but did not affix it to the base. This allows me to adjust the length of the tub to suit any size of saw plate…and hence minimize the amount of Evaporust I have to use at any one soaking. I use a garbage bag to line it, being very careful to gingerly lower the toothline into the bath.

Here’s the saw plate after the Evaporust bath and sanding/polishing.

Too smart for my own good
To get some crud off the handle, I tried a new product, Goof Off. Oh, it got the crud off alright…plus the original finish I had originally intended to keep. So I opted to refinish the whole handle by sanding it.

Enter my baby-smooth formula for handles. Sand using 150, 220, 320, 400 grits, then buff the wood on a bench grinder—no rouge. For the hard-to-reach inner handle surfaces I used a Dremel equipped with a tiny buffing wheel.

Now there were some hard to reach places along the top and bottom edges. So I used my spanking new (last year) scraper to treat those areas—and it worked very well. I got that idea while watching Jameel Abraham finish the tote of his Winter Smoother plane. If you haven’t watched Jameel's video series of him building this plane, it’s FASCINATING and well worth checking it out.

This panel saw sports a wheat-design handle. I’ve never restored one of those before. There were some original stalks that were missing from the back end of the handle after I sanded it. My solution was to use a dental pic to “carve” thin stalks.

Before God I tell you my solution sucked. There’s nothing like looking at obviously ham-handed wheat stalks to motivate you to add a good carving class to your schedule.

When I first learned to sharpen, the concept of shaping teeth after jointing escaped me. But after corresponding with Matt over at The Saw Blog [INSERT], it made sense. So I aggressively jointed the saw (it needed it badly), and proceeded to shape/sharpen the teeth. Because the shaping and sharpening added no fleam, the crosscut saw was converted to a rip configuration.

Here’s the after rehab money shots:

I had to rip some ¼” plywood to serve as dividers on the bench appliance till I built…and this saw cuts like a dream. It tracks straight, cuts quickly and leaves a fine finish. But best of all, it fits my hand well.

An added bonus, I hope is that the toe-stubbing of ripping days past are long gone.

Happy rehabbing!

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

4 comments so far

View Brit's profile


7376 posts in 2843 days

#1 posted 03-08-2012 08:13 AM

Wow! Great job Brad as usual. You’ve got a nice little collection going on there. Thanks for the info on converting crosscut to rip. I’m going to need to do that soon. Did you do it all with one file? I don’t mean did you use two different size files, but I was just wondering if one file lasted long enough to do all the re-shaping of the teeth. Also, please share the tooth geometry. How much rake? How much set did you add per side?

I hope my backsaws come out as good as that. Thanks for the inspiration.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

18717 posts in 2568 days

#2 posted 03-08-2012 11:41 AM

Great restore Brad.

Yea, I wouldn’t recommend goof off for wood. Its great fore removing almost anything off almost anything as long as you want nothing left. It works well on glass and metal.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2740 days

#3 posted 03-08-2012 02:24 PM

Don, I love the way you describe Goof Off…that is funny.

My shaping skills are nascent and I’m still feeling my way on them. As you’ve probably learned, there’s a nack to looking at the jointed flat and knowing whether to apply more pressure to the right-hand tooth or left-hand (i.e. the front of the right-hand tooth or the back of the left-hand tooth) in the gullet. I just kept working until the flats were gone. This alone seemed to do the sharpening trick. And while there was a lot of metal dust after the operation, the one 6” slim file I used still has plenty of life.

As for rake, I’ve been using negative 5 degrees on all my rip saws. And I did not set the teeth at all. The reason is that my test cut was excellent. The saw tracked well, cut quickly and the 7 ppi left a smooth surface…unlike my S&J 5 1/2 rip. So I decided to skip setting.

Every single handsaw, panel saw that I’ve gotten has had too much set. That’s evident by their jumping around in the kerf. So I’ve found on the initial sharpening that I don’t need to set them. My backsaws are a different story. I’ve had to add a bit of set to prevent binding. And my sharpening of those tiny, tiny teeth need more work. My general rule of thumb on set is to apply the minimum I think is necessary and then see how the saw performs in wood—then adjust accordingly.

I’ve reached a lull in my tool acquisition phase, meaning that I’ve achieved a critical mass of tools that I need to perform almost all the things a project requires. So I’m backtracking to fine-tune my sharpening of the joinery saws in my nest.

This saw performs well. And while we as collectors/users may scoff at Warranted Superior-branded saws because they were not the top of the line, I was quite impressed with its cutting action. Maybe the steel is inferior and will dull more quickly in use, we’ll see. But for a good quality user panel saw, this one fit the bill big time.

One last thing Andy. While there is an etching on the saw, I can’t read it no matter how hard I try. So I wasn’t able to give this saw the historical treatment that your blog posts have set as a standard for any saw rehab :)

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3089 days

#4 posted 03-08-2012 05:19 PM

Great job on that saw!
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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