What kind of wood would you use to make a handle for a semi-valuable back saw?

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Forum topic by docholladay posted 1506 days ago 766 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View docholladay's profile


1286 posts in 1664 days

1506 days ago

I recently aquired a very nice antique Disston No. 4 12” Back saw blade. The blade is pin straight, sharp and ready to use. Most of the original etch is still visiible. We are talking about a saw that originally was manufactured around 1895. The only problem is, there is no handle. Not a damaged handle. No handle at all. So I am going to have to make one for it. I just can’t make up my mind as to what kind of wood that I want to use for the handle. I have some beech that I could use and I also have some rosewood, but for those of you that have seen my recent dovetail saw restoration, I’ve done that before. I am tempted to go to my lumber supplier this weekend and simply see which piece “speaks to me.” Anyway, I thought I would throw the question out for you guys.

What type of wood do you think would be interesting to use for this type of project?

Let the voting begin.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

7 replies so far

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 1561 days

#1 posted 1506 days ago

Does the Disstonian Institute have info about the saw … ie. the specific type(s) of wood they were using for the handle?

Failing to find out the original wood, I’d use apple if I could get my hands on some as that was commonly used on high end hand saws.

View araldite's profile


187 posts in 2009 days

#2 posted 1506 days ago

I think they used primarily beech and apple for the handles.

-- Failure is the road to success if you learn to learn from your mistakes - Vince, Greenville, SC

View SwedishIron's profile


142 posts in 2246 days

#3 posted 1506 days ago

I would go with something like: apple, plum, or european pear.. the fruit woods make great handles and show off fine details very nicely.

-- Scott, Colorado

View a1Jim's profile


112002 posts in 2183 days

#4 posted 1506 days ago

Mahogany is a classic

-- Custom furniture

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1603 days

#5 posted 1506 days ago

I would go with something that is special rather than try to make it the same as original. They chose good wood that they could get in bulk cheaply enough to make a profit. You can go with something extraordinary. Get something that is not usually done in a production setting. Maybe something that is local to your area that is not available in usual lumber. I am making a turning saw right now using Texas Ebony. It is so much more fun than just regular lumber for a special piece.

You can always cut out a standard one at the same time if you don’t like it.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View BertFlores58's profile


1644 posts in 1528 days

#6 posted 1506 days ago

You had already made earlier restoration using different wood. But in this case, I think the best is ebony as suggested by David or any heavy hardwood. What is important in the old tools is the balance between the blade and the handle. The handle must be heavier than the blade. Here in Philippines, we got a lot of hardwood that came from recycled wood.. such as KAMAGONG (Philippine ebony), MOLAVE (A very hardwooed good for plane body), or MAHOGANY as suggested by Jim.

-- Bert

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2495 posts in 1712 days

#7 posted 1506 days ago

goncale alves, a beautiful hardwood.

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