terryR's Rusty Saw Blog #3: Simonds 24" Miter Saw Restore

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Blog entry by terryR posted 04-04-2012 07:44 PM 3844 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: 1931-1935 No. 5 Disston-Keystone Handle Replacement Part 3 of terryR's Rusty Saw Blog series no next part

Welcome back everyone for the next chapter in my Rusty Saw Restoration…

It seems that I’ve caught the vintage tool bug pretty bad:

My shop suddenly needs more and more space for rusty bits, rust cleaners, and of course, the shiny restored tools. I’ve also stopped into a few antique stores recently, for the first time in my life, and even begun to collect other tools…like this lovely Disston Rosewood and brass square (needs a little more cleaning):

For my current project, I wanted to bring some life back into this pre-1920 Simonds Miter Saw. I’ve been unable to narrow down the actual age of the saw, but Simonds only built them from 1901-26, or somewhere near that date. This guy closely resembles a sketch of the model No. 95 from the 1919 catalogue; although the saw in my hand has a more pronounced v-notch, so could be a bit older?

Upon dis-assembly I found the brass to be in excellent shape, the plate looked nice and straight, but the handle was deteriorating at the front edge of the cheek apparently from oil damage. The damage looked repairable, and since the handle already had a nice, hand-crafted look, I really wanted to keep it. Especially since I just made a tote from scratch last month…

So, after submerging the saw’s plate in a shallow tray of Evapo-Rust for an overnight soak:

…I turned my attention to the handle. First, I just wanted to sand off the years of built-up finish and see what lay beneath. I removed the old varnish with P80 paper and soon what I assumed to be walnut looked more like beech…then…APPLE! Ahh…lovely apple…just what everyone hopes for in an old tote!

I would stabilize the cracks that emerged after sanding as well as the awful cheek front; and attempt an over-all weathered appearance for the final product. I also decided to keep the ‘flat’ shape of the handle; more on that later…

Using rasps, files, and sandpaper, I shaped the hook to look somewhat more aggressive, and also made the nib and lower horn a bit sharper. I was un-decided on whether or not to add a lamb’s tongue to a miter saw’s handle, but after stumbling across this ancient Disston…

...I wanted something similar.

Using french curves I simply laid out a nice line which followed the existing arc of the v-notch. After researching the shapes of many old totes, the position of the brass hardware determined the length of this tongue for me.

I formed the tongue in the same manner as described in my previous blog:

pencil line gets turned into a shallow slice using sharp blade:

slice gets enlarged with 1/8” v-groove chisel:

the cheek is hidden while the tongue is shaped:

Now was the time to stabilize the cracks and re-attach a small piece of the chamfer which came off during sanding…ooops! I did not see a way to hide the oil stains, or cross-grain cracks, so wanted to simply fill them with black epoxy:

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to mix epoxy colorant…or it will not cure…EVER…don’t ask how I know. I mostly use African black sawdust with epoxy for filling gaps, but was feeling lazy today, so went for the colorant:

Now, hold on…I’m sure many of you are wondering what this newbie is doing to this poor 90+ year old handle! Just be patient, my friends, it always looks better after a little sanding and some BLO:

It actually took two treatments with epoxy to fill most of the gaps on this oily piece of apple. Even then, a few cracks refused to take the glue…just too much oil. As you can see, I even carved the initial ‘T’ in the cheek and added a few file dings to return some age to the tote. This was also to make up for sanding the initials OFF the old handle during my first restoration. I’ll probably continue to shape my totes both new-looking and rustic depending on my mood…and of course…the initial condition of the wood.

I accidentally left the saw’s plate in the goop for TWO nights instead of one, but couldn’t tell any harm. The rust came off nicely, and after a brief rinse with water, I cleaned the left-over residue off the steel with WD-40 and steel wool. Then I could see the pits which needed to be removed…bring out the P-60 grit sandpaper and band-aids:

Finally, I reached the point where I was happy with the amount of pitting I had removed…wait…that’s not entirely true! I eventually ran out of P-60 grit paper and was simply tired of bending over this 24” of steel…now that’s the truth. The plate looked good to me, so I continued with P-80 grit paper and worked my way quickly to P-120 while trying to remove some of my deep scratch marks.

After a few coats of 3-in-1 oil rubbed in with steel wool, the plate gained a slightly darker appearance, and looked much better. I leave the plate to hang overnight in my shop between coats of oil. I’m not sure if the multiple coats really build up any coloration…still experimenting with that…but it gives me something to do. Actually, I have recently purchased some cold gun bluing liquids, but really didn’t want to experiment with that stuff on a plate this valuable…and large!

The brass cleaned up nicely with a bit of sanding…from P220 to P1500 grit…then a brief touch with metal polish…sweet!

Oh yes, before I forget…my secret method for creating a ‘flat faced’ tote…While sanding the handle, I simply made it a point to sand the end grain portions by hand first, and then use a block sander for the faces. Helps force that flatness onto the faces…I finished the handle with two coats of BLO, followed with a single coat of Danish Oil which was cherry-colored, and many coats of Renaissance wax. Very simple, and left me with a subtle satin sheen.

And, before I knew it, all my hours of work came together in a finished project in a matter of minutes! Here is the finished miter saw:

And a few shots of the tote:

I really like the aged look the Apple took on…now this guy goes on the ‘wall to be sharpened’.

Hope my photos may help give you guys tips or just inspiration; both are needed from time to time…Any comments or suggestions are welcomed,

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

4 comments so far

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3152 days

#1 posted 04-04-2012 08:01 PM

That came out Great!

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

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 2646 days

#2 posted 04-04-2012 11:36 PM

Nice Job!

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View Brit's profile


7376 posts in 2843 days

#3 posted 04-05-2012 03:20 PM

Great blog Terry and a very nice saw too! Don’t forget that Oxalic acid will get rid of black staining. I used it for the first time on the Disston No.5 apple tote that I restored in part two of my saw talk blog. I was pleasantly surprised at the results.

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

View terryR's profile


7139 posts in 2309 days

#4 posted 04-05-2012 03:37 PM

^Thanks , Andy, can’t believe I’ve missed one of your blogs…but I sure missed that one! Will look for acid asap…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

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