Restoring Disston Saw

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Forum topic by uMinded posted 08-31-2014 03:06 PM 996 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View uMinded's profile


104 posts in 1275 days

08-31-2014 03:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: panel saw disston resotation

I have inherited a 26” Disston from 1896-1917. The blade is well patinaed and the handle is coated in grime and has a split in the handle.

I should be able to clean up the blade with steel wool and 3-in-1 oil then some buffing compound I think.

The handle has the bottom section split right in half and where the handle meets the blade it has a few knicks. How should I strip the grime off the wood? Once its cleaned up how to go about repairing the split and knicks?

7 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


7124 posts in 2000 days

#1 posted 08-31-2014 05:52 PM

HTH and good luck now.

View Tim's profile


3032 posts in 1384 days

#2 posted 08-31-2014 06:43 PM

Lots of good stuff in the thread waho linked and you can ask there any time as well.
The problem with the steel wool is it will take out the etch as well if there is one, that’s why people like to use either a razor blade with dubbed corners if theres a lot of rust or a sanding block with various grits so it doesn’t get down into the etch as much. Still be careful around the etc though. You can use mineral spirits or simple green as a lubricant with wet dry sand paper.

For cleaning the handle something like an orange pumice hand cleaner like Gojo works well but is fairly aggressive but won’t really damage a user tool. A less aggressive option is a mixture of paste wax, boiled linseed oil, and murphy’s oil soap. You can also try just the paste wax for an even milder option. It’s basically the solvent in the wax you’re using to clean the wood at that point. Here’s another mild option:

If the split is clean you can just glue it back together, or do so after cleaning the split a bit. If not it’s down to woodworking to get flat mating surfaces and glue those. The chips you can leave for character or try to find a piece of patch wood, create flat surfaces and glue those on, then shape them down to how they should be.

There’s other ways to do all of the above of course.

View MrRon's profile


3898 posts in 2666 days

#3 posted 08-31-2014 08:34 PM

Do you plan to use the saw or display it? The steel has probably lost it’s temper and can’t be sharpened.

View uMinded's profile


104 posts in 1275 days

#4 posted 09-02-2014 12:06 PM

MrRon: I thought metal loses its temper when its heated close to the original tempering temperature, not with age. If I can fully repair the handle I might turn it into a user.

waho6o9: Thanks for the link!

Tim: Where is the etch on the saw?? I can not see anything on the blade at all.

I will try to post pictures tonight but I have been out of town in a hotel for work…

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13573 posts in 2041 days

#5 posted 09-02-2014 12:32 PM

“The steel has probably lost it’s temper and can’t be sharpened.”

I’m intrigued by this statement as well. What information in the OP supports the conclusion?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View JayT's profile


4682 posts in 1634 days

#6 posted 09-02-2014 12:41 PM

The steel has probably lost it s temper and can t be sharpened.

Guess very few of the saws in my till should work, then, since many are about the same vintage. Somehow they all do.

Etch should be in the center of the saw plate on the left side. They can hide very well under a bit of grime and corrosion and many times are not able to be saved. I would still be very careful cleaning up that area of the saw plate, just in case. If there is a faint etch, it’s not too difficult to bring it back out a little bit.

Good luck with the restoration and be sure to post some pics.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View uMinded's profile


104 posts in 1275 days

#7 posted 09-03-2014 01:03 PM

Well I scrubed with soft soap and a scotch bright pad for 30min and could not get much rust off. I think I will need a bit more help in the chemical dept.

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