Saws: Restoring, Collecting, Using – My 7 Month Journey
It has been seven months since my first post on Lumberjocks. The motivation for that first post was to try to locate a medallion for a $3 British-made handsaw I purchased on eBay. Little did I know at the time what lay ahead for me on the journey of saw restoration and collecting.
Photo: My $3 saw that started it all.
Now, with summer coming on and my attention, of necessity, turning more towards catching up on all my outside chores and my summertime job of working on forest fires, my work on saws will likely slow down for a few months. This seems like a good time to pause and reflect on what has occurred over the past 7 months.
First, in the middle of those 7 months I underwent a major foot surgery that kept me out of the shop for about two months. So really, we’re talking about 5 months of actual work on saws. During the two months I was immobile, though, I did a lot of studying and planning on the subject of saws.
Photo: My foot after surgery.
While I’ve used handsaws virtually all of my 65 year life, I previously gave them little thought. They were simply tools to do a job. I didn’t know a lot about them except how to use them to saw a board. I’ve learned a lot on this journey, including these things:
+ The history of American and British saws and saw makers
+ The types of saws and what they are used for
+ Techniques for restoring saws
+ How to sharpen saws
+ How to make saw plates, saw handles, and brass split-nut saw screws and assemble them into a saw.
Photo: Home made saw screws and handle.
At the outset of this journey, I decided to play a little game by trying to acquire some quality saws at no cost. My plan was to buy saws either locally or on eBay, restore them, sell the ones I didn’t want, and use the money to pay for the ones I decided to keep. It’s not that I couldn’t afford to buy saws. I just felt taking this no-cost approach would make the adventure more fun – and it has. As of today, I am more than $100 in the black in this little game. All the profits I make are turned back into saws or other old tools.
To date I’ve sold a total of 16 saws that I restored. Here is a complete list:
(2) Disston D-8 handsaws
(2) Disston later model backsaws
Disston D-8 panel saw
Disston No. 7 handsaw
Disston No. 7 panel saw
Great Northern Railway saw (unknown maker)
Keen Kutter handsaw
Norvell’s Fast Mail panel saw
Supplee Hardware handsaw
Charles Woollen handsaw
Robert Sorby handsaw
That’s over two saws per month, and that alone would be a pretty good accomplishment for the past 7 months. But what about the saws I’ve kept? I’ll present them here in two lists: British and American.
1. Drabble & Sanderson (New plate added)
2. Thomas Flinn (Brass spine is original; all other parts were made by me.)
3. Taylor Brothers (New handle made by me.)
4. Spear & Jackson
5. Wheatman & Smith
6. Robert Sorby
7. Thomas White
8. J. Beardshaw & Son (Unrestored)
9. I. Fearn (Unrestored)
10 Reproduction Smith’s Key Saw (Plate is repurposed from another saw. Handle made by me)
11. J. Taylor & Son rip
12. J. Taylor & Son crosscut
13. Richard Groves & Son (New plate added.)
14. Spear & Jackson (New handle made by me.)
1. Henry Disston & Sons
2. Richardson Brothers
3. Harvey W. Peace
4. Richardson Brothers
5. Josiah Bakewell
6. Holley, Mason, Marks & Co. Hardware
7. Small saw made from a worn out Disston D-8 plate. Sycamore handle made by me.
That’s a lot of saws for the short time I’ve been doing this! But as they say, it’s a labor of love, and it has given me a lot of enjoyment and a strong sense of accomplishment. It’s a good feeling when I look at the “keeper” saws resting in my saw till or take one out and make an effortless cut through a board. The things I’ve learned about restoring and sharpening saws are equally satisfying.
So what lies ahead on this journey? I’ll still keep my eyes open for saw bargains over the next few months, and restore a few as time allows. My goal, though, is to begin making saws. The restorations I’ve done were excellent practice and a huge help in developing the requisite skill set for saw making. I’d like to make a complete set of matching saws ranging from the smallest dovetail saw to the largest rip handsaw. That, however, will have to wait until the snow begins falling next winter.
I’d like to thank my friends on Lumberjocks for their inspiration, encouragement, and knowledge sharing along the way on my saw journey. Those who frequent the Saws, using collecting, cleaning and buying thread are especially appreciated.
-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- "Of all the tools I own, my favorite is a good sharp pocket knife." - My Dad