Questions about hand saws

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Forum topic by Brett posted 04-29-2011 03:57 AM 2231 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2712 days

04-29-2011 03:57 AM

I have a modern Disston rip saw that I was given in the early 1990s. I don’t think Disston hand saws are still being made today. When did they go out of production?

Also, are any modern, affordable hand saws (like the Stanley Fat Max or other Stanley saws with induction hardened teeth) good for hand-woodworking, or are old, quality hand saws still considered superior?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

3 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1735 posts in 2838 days

#1 posted 04-29-2011 04:31 AM

Well, I dont know the entire history but I do know that any disston you buy today is not the same as pre 1960 or so. The company was sold a few times. Sorta like delta, b&d, etc. I know that the newest one I have is about fifty yrs old or so. I have a good stable of nicholsons and they have held up well. But to your question, yes I do believe that there is still a Disston saw but guarantee ya its not the orig. Enjoy JB

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2909 days

#2 posted 04-29-2011 04:58 AM

Here is a link that should help you

The old saws were made with much better quality metal then the ones sold at stores today. There are tons of them out there and you can usually get them for next to nothing. The challenge is getting them sharp and tuned. I have a few old saws that are over 100 years old and I was able to get them tuned and sharpened and I am very happy with the quality.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3088 days

#3 posted 04-29-2011 05:15 AM

Somewhere around the 1950’s Disston sold and was never the same again. Still, the key to any decent hand saw is that it is sharp and properly set. If you can take that saw you have and get it properly sharpened and set, you will be surprised at how well it cuts. Also, most later model saws have handles that are nothing close to the older saws in terms of comfort and qualtiy. Still, with a little work with a rasp, file and sandpaper, most any wooden handle can be modified to make it more comfortable. All that said, I have a pretty good collection of old Disstons. I have some that are pre-1900 as well as some that are more like 1930’s or 40’s. I do not have any more modern than that. My favorites are the pre-1900 saws. The saw plate is thicker and they are a little heavier, but if used correctly, that extra weight actually helps the momentum in pushing the saw through the cut. Still, none will cut very will if they haven’t been sharpened and set correctly. Find someone near you that knows how to sharpen and set up your saw and you won’t regret it. Or, even better, get yourself a saw vise, some triangle files and a saw set tool and learn to sharpen yourself. Dan, above, mentioned the Disstonian Institute site. Also, is an excellent site with info about Disston saws. It has one of the best how-to’s about sharpening hand saws that I have found. Good luck. Once you get a good Disston saw sharpened and set up correctly, you will know that you have something of quality.


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

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