Hand Saw Restoration

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Blog entry by venicewoodworker posted 01-02-2012 03:22 AM 1462 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

OK… after going back to Wisconsin for the holidays, I am glad to be back in the warmth of the sun in Florida. My dad gifted me a wealth of handsaws while I was there visiting. Some of them were from my Grandmother’s Grandfather. He had initials carved into the handles. My dad said he was afraid to try to restore them, so he handed them to me. Most are old Disstons that you can see a hologram in the blade, but I am afraid to start some sort of abraision process on it. Also, I don’t know what to use as a finish on the handles. Any info would be helpful. Thank you

3 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

16816 posts in 1653 days

#1 posted 01-02-2012 03:56 AM

Look through Andy's blogs. Its all the info you would need.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Dave's profile


11256 posts in 1925 days

#2 posted 01-02-2012 04:26 AM

Wonderful. Take your time and treat them with the care they deserve.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View swirt's profile


1993 posts in 2057 days

#3 posted 01-02-2012 07:24 AM

Welcome back to the warmth and sunshine ;)

Finish on the totes? I use BLO and then pad on a mixture of shellac and mineral oil. The end result is a tote that still feels like wood. If you plan to have them more exposed to the elements, then a few coats of wipe-on poly would work.

The Etch (more than 100 years before a hologram was ever dreamed of) is an area of depression and chemical treatment. It sits below the field of the saw blade so if you sand with a wooden block you stand the best chance of preserving it. If you go at it with rust removers and scouring pads or sanding pads, you will most likely remove the etch. has a nice step by step on cleaning both a saw plate and tote

The method of using the razorblade wtih mineral spirits works well. I have made one modification based on sometihing I read a few months back. I used to use WD40 instead of mineral spirits for doing the razorblade scraping. The fumes from the WD40 were easier to put up with. A few months back though I read of a saw restorer recommending Simple Green in place of the mineral spirits. I was skeptical at first, but man it works great.
Here is the source of the Simple Green method.

If you don’t need to preserve the etch and the plate is pretty rusty, then soaking it in Evapo Rust is a good step after doing the razorblade treatment. Warning: if you go the evaporust route, you have to soak the whole blade at the same time. Trying to soak one end and then the other end will leave you with some newly etched etched marks. Evaporust usually won’t attack non-rusted metal, but where the air and the evaporust meet, there is a weird bit of oxidation that can take place right at that boundary (learned that he hard way). It can be a challenge to find a non-metal tray long enough to submerge a sawplate.

-- Galootish log blog,

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