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 06-17-2010 03:26 AM 1405 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3024 days

06-17-2010 03:26 AM

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 2920 days

#1 posted 06-17-2010 03:31 AM

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


188 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 06-17-2010 03:55 AM

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 3606 days

#3 posted 06-17-2010 03:56 AM

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


117062 posts in 3542 days

#4 posted 06-17-2010 04:36 AM

Mahogany is a classic

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2963 days

#5 posted 06-17-2010 05:01 AM

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


1694 posts in 2887 days

#6 posted 06-17-2010 07:10 AM

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


2496 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 06-17-2010 07:22 AM

goncale alves, a beautiful hardwood.

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