Handsaw honey hole: 6 saws and a miter box

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Blog entry by Brad posted 09-09-2012 01:55 PM 5779 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In the words of the baseball great Sammy Sosa, “Garage sales have been very, very, good to me.” Or at least that’s what I’d think he’d say if his run of saw luck was as good as mine.

The Craig’s List garage sale ad touted “vintage/antique handsaw collection – make offer for one or all,” sandwiched between the Singer sowing machines and the 1960’s Life Magazines. The words “collection” and “make offer” motivated me to deplete two gallons of gas journeying to/from the southern hinterlands of my fair city. I had to see this marvel for myself.

The seller was an early bird and had already been open for business for a couple of hours when I drove up. So I braced myself to sort through a lot of late-model Disstons missing saw nuts or early model whatevers complete with nasty-assed kinks, rust, quirky filings and jiggered handles along with said wanting for saw nuts.

I sauntered, (if by “sauntered” you take it to mean ‘walked as fast as I could without tipping my eagerness to the seller’, then you’re correct), on over to the barrel containing 20 or so vintage saws. The handwritten sign said ”$3.00 each or four for $9.00.”

I looked for old handles, ones that a touch of lamb’s to the low part of them. I looked for straight sawplates, and for handles with all their nuts. Three minutes was all it took to cherry pick the best of the bunch including a D-8 thumbhole-handled saw in excellent shape. I’ve been manifesting a thumby for a long time now.

Here are the five that met my standards:

Handsaw Honey Hole Inventory
Maker Model Length PPI Notes
Disston D-8, thumbhole 26” 6, rip Finally, I own one!
Medallion dates to 1896-1917
Disston D-8 26” 9, XC Medallion dates to 1896-1917
Disston No. 7 26 ½” 8, XC Nice, though worn, handle plus intact nib.
Medallion dates to 1878-1888
Disston D-8 26” 10, XC Medallion dates to 1896-1917
Bishop & Co. ? 24” 8, XC Nice panel saw, plate a bit pitted.

But that’s not all! If you order now…
There was more to see so I placed the five saws on a table near the seller. That’s my safeguard strategy lest some wiseguy show up on the scene to pilfer my loot.

Nearby, I spied an ancient miter box with no readily identifiable maker’s marks. Lying on top of it, and included in the $7.00 price was a rust-covered, Disston 16” tenon saw.

Maker Model Length PPI Notes
Disston #4? Backsaw 16” x 4” under the spine ? Medallion dates to 1947-1955, nickel-plated hardware
Goodell Manufacturing Co. ?, miter box

The owner had mistakenly thought that the backsaw went with it. That’s ok by me. You see, I’ve had my eye out for a tenon saw to file crosscut as a complement to my rip-filed Spear & Jackson tenon saw.

I lugged the bundle over to my table and paid the man the $20 he asked for even though his “four for $9.00 special” should have yielded a final price of $19.00 for the bunch. Sometimes a man just has to accept that there will be times in life when he gets taken. No sense brooding over it. Just chalk up the $1.00 drubbing to a lesson learned and move on.

As I was strolling to my car, I passed a guy pulling on handyman gloves to sort through the saw barrel. Had he been there even five minutes earlier, he would have beaten me to the picking punch. I smiled inwardly as I walked past him thinking, “Not this day my friend.”

Putting them back to work
So far, I’ve rehabbed the Distton 16” tenon saw. It has quite a heft to it. And I like the 4” under the spine to make deep joinery cuts when the occasion calls for it. And even though it probably dates to the 1950s, the steel is good too.

All that my D-8 thumbhole needs is a good sharpening. But first, I need a fine crosscut saw. So I’m rehabbing the Disston D-8 10 ppi. After that, I’ll rehab the Bishop panel saw. I love panel saws because I have shorter arms and the handles fit so neatly into my palm. Plus, they’re easy to wield on stock secured in my front vise.

After that, I may clean up the No. 7. Before I do that, I’ll want to get a feel for how rare/not rare No. 7s are that date to the 1880s. It’s not in great shape though it has a straight blade. So I’m thinking it doesn’t have much collector value. If that’s the case, it won’t hurt to rehab it and make it a user.

Ah. What a nice problem to have. Such is the joy a handsaw honey hole can bring to a man’s life.

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

6 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2592 days

#1 posted 09-09-2012 02:02 PM

I can’t believe you got that miter box for $7. And $3 for a Disston D-8, thumbhole! You scoundrel you. Very nice finds.

The miter box looks similar to mine. It might help identify it.

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

View Brit's profile


7385 posts in 2867 days

#2 posted 09-09-2012 03:39 PM

Sometimes a man just has to accept that there will be times in life when he gets taken. No sense brooding over it.

My heart bleeds for you Brad – NOT!!!

I’ve yet to find a single bargain tool, unless you count my Bigmouth metal dust pan that I got brand new for £1.

You must be more or less sorted now in the saw department.

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3139 days

#3 posted 09-09-2012 05:52 PM

I´ll bett your tires need a replacement now after have have made burnouts the hole way home
we all know you know you stole that score …. :-)


View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3176 days

#4 posted 09-10-2012 05:08 PM

Nice scores Brad, you cant beat those prices. I’d say the gass spent was worth it.

Andy, I would have expected the pickings to be much plentiful in the UK. Or maybe they are more aware of the values and dont let them go for cheap.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2764 days

#5 posted 09-10-2012 05:47 PM

Hey Don, I got a lot of help from fellow LJs on the forum post I did for the Goodell Manufacturing, CO. miterbox I picked up for $7.00. Sadly, I’ve been looking for an older vintage backsaw with a 5” deep spine ever since…

Andy, the Saw gods have smiled favorably upon you. You have a beautiful saw nest complete with a very rich history to match. And you’re right. I feel like I’m set for saws and transitioning to completing more woodworking projects.

Mauricio, estate sales in Colorado definitely have decent handsaw deals from time to time. But in all the sales I’ve attended, I’ve only picked up SB #18 block an SB T11 #5C and a SB #60 planes. The plane pickings here are much thinner than Don’s territory. Hmmm. Sounds like a roadtrip in the making.

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

View richard1941's profile


1 post in 473 days

#6 posted 03-04-2017 02:42 AM

I have one of those miter boxes with a fine backsaw. It does excellent work! However, I took it apart and de-rusted it the best I could with the white vinegar treatment. That worked OK, but now some part must be missing because I cant get it to lock into angles other than where the notches are. And I need a clamp to hold the guide together.

I saw a question on the holes at the top of the guides. I believe those can be set to allow the saw to cut only to a predetermined depth, like if you are making a mortise and tenon joint.

Once again, the miter box does excellent work, and will continue to do so even when civilization collapses and the grid goes down.

By the way, the backsaw that goes with that miter box is EXCELLENT.

Has anybody seen an assembly diagram and parts list so that I can restore the tool to full functionality?

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