Restoring a depression-era Miterbox for 21st-century workshop #3: Finding a suitable vintage saw

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Blog entry by Brad posted 03-03-2013 10:41 PM 1736 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Restoration, parts fabrication and mounting to a base Part 3 of Restoring a depression-era Miterbox for 21st-century workshop series Part 4: Restoring, sharpening and testing the saw »

In my last post, I recounted the restoration of my Goodell Manufacturing Co. miterbox. I also detailed the fabrication of missing parts, as well as the process of mounting the whole affair to a base. Now, I’m going to share with you my six-month journey to find a suitable soul-mate for my miterbox—a backsaw.

Boy. You’d think that tracking down a Disston miter saw stamped with a “Made Expressly for Goodell Manufacturing, Co.” etching would be a simple task, (—-heavy sarcasm—-.)

Well, that was my dream anyway. After six months of “no-dice” searching, it dawned on me that my hopes to pair the box with a reasonably-priced, era- and model-appropriate backsaw was too pie-in-the-sky-ish.

During those months I implemented Plan A by combing Ebay and tool-dealer sites for my prize. Plan A failed. Apparently miter saws with 5” under the spine aren’t as plentiful, nor being put up for sale as often, as they were 85 years ago.

Hmmm. Time for Plan B. Lie-Nielsen offers custom miterbox saws for the paltry sum of $195.

Well, it would be paltry if I was married to Kim Kardashian. But I’m not. So while I’d love the quality, beauty and performance of their saw, I was in no mood to pony up that ransom. Nor could I quite shake the fading hope of keeping the whole restoration vintage.

So I turned to Plan C…which was thinking a lot about what to do next. Odd. Now that I think of it, Plan C didn’t work too well either.

The stork delivers a bouncing, baby 28” x 5”, named Disston
After Plan C fell flat on its face, I was consoling myself by reading the woodworking blog. On it, I came across an article about Mike Semple, a renowned saw collector and member of the MWTA. And that gave birth to Plan D-network with fellow woodworkers.

So I emailed Mike and asked him if he, or someone he knew, could point me in the direction of finding a 28” x 5” vintage miterbox saw with a “Made Expressly for Goodell Manufacturing, Co.” etching. And do you know what he said!!!

Nope. Don’t have an etching like that. But he did have a Disston 28” x 4 7/8” miter saw with a Millers Falls Langdon Miterbox etching on it he’d be willing to part with. And for what I thought was a very reasonable price. God bless Mike. Not only did he send a high-quality vintage saw my way, he did it before I could put a check in the mail to him. The man truly is a class act.

Less than a week later I was admiring this, perched atop my workbench.

The medallion dates the saw to between 1897-1917. That means that it predates my miter box by about 5-10 years. But that’s ok by me.

Here’s a bit of the saw’s history that he shared with me by email.

“I’m glad you like the saw. It is a nice example and those five inchers are not common. I think I had it about fifteen years and only used it once, when my son and I installed 6” crown molding in my living room.”

With the saw getting used to its new home, it was time to spiff her up for use. And that’s what we’ll talk about in my next post.


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

3 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


9741 posts in 2477 days

#1 posted 03-03-2013 10:51 PM

What a score! I had no idea these things were so hard to find. Guess I’ll have to keep mine under lock and key.

BTW check the posts on my box and they have the same Goodell stamping as yours. So I I’ve been wrong about calling it a GP Mitre box

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Brit's profile


7386 posts in 2868 days

#2 posted 03-03-2013 10:59 PM

You definitely did the right thing there Brad. That saw is well suited to your miterbox and it was really nice of Mike to send it out before receiving your money. I’m looking forward to your next post immensely. I love to see how other people go about sharpening saws.

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

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8517 posts in 2008 days

#3 posted 03-04-2013 01:09 AM

I love me some Millers Falls….I think Walt at could’ve hooked you up as well.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

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