Posts Tagged ‘how to restore a hand saw’

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Last week I picked up an excellent 26″ Disston D-8 crosscut saw with 8ppi.  When looking for saws I shoot for a plate that is in decent shape, some rust is okay, but I’ll pass on blades that are kinked, have damaged teeth, or excessive pitting on the tooth line.  A nice handle is a bonus, but those can be restored or remade entirely if necessary.  I also look for hardware that is complete and hasn’t been chewed up by screwdrivers.  Below is the saw I purchased through Craigslist for $10 and considering what these go for on eBay (when you don’t really know what you’re getting) this was a steal.

The “before” picture. minor rust, perfectly straight plate, the handle shows only minor wear.

The Saw Plate: The saw comes apart easily, but use an appropriate screwdriver so the brass screws don’t get chewed up.  My Lie-Nielsen #3 driver worked nicely.  To clean up the plate, I started by scraping the surface with a razor blade scraper.  This knocks down any surface rust and removes any old finish or residue that may have dried on the plate which will prevent the rust remover from reaching the steel.

A razor blade scraper quickly preps the saw plate for the following rust removal procedure.

After the scraping I soaked the plate for 12 hours in Evaporust.  I made a simple trough by wrapping some scrapwood  with a garbage bag.  It’s just large enough and deep enough to hold the plate and minimizes the amount of Evaporust required to keep the plate submerged.  After a 12 hours soak, I scrubbed the surface with a Scotch pad, then soaked for an additional 12 hours.  Finally, I cleaned the plate with a brass-bristle brush, Scotch pad, and steel wool.  Rinse the plate off with water, dry, and oil immediately.  The plate is now ready for sharpening.

Soaking the saw plate in Evaporust thanks to a crudely made trash bag trough.

A brass-bristle brush helps clean out any rust pits, then the entire plate gets scrubbed with a scotch pad and fine steel wool.

I won’t get into sharpening handsaws specifically.  That’s an enormous topic with several books, DVDs, and websites dedicated to it.  I would, however, recommend Ron Herman’s DVD on sharpening handsaws if you’re looking for more information.  For a quick overview of file guides for saw sharpening, click here.

Sharpening the plate. Normally this is done with the handle attached, but I had the saw apart so I chose to sharpen it before putting it back together.

The Hardware: The brass saw nuts are easy to clean up, though you can leave them alone if you like the patina.  I gently chuck each half of nut into my drill press using only light hand pressure.  Too much pressure will damage the brass threads or crush the tapped housing.  I run the press at a moderate speed, somewhere in the 700-1,200 rpm is a good place to start, then start working the face with abrasives.  I start with 220 grit sandpaper and finish at 320.  Each grit only gets 5-10 seconds of light pressure to do its job.  The 220 removes and surface patina or any various types of shop grime.  It also eliminates (or at least smooths out) dents and scratches.  The 320 simply refines the scratch marks left by the 220.  After sanding, polish up the face with a Scotch pad and finally 0000 steel wool.  This leaves a relatively scratch-free, shiny surface.  You can also use fine sandpaper (up to around 1,000 grit), but I don’t keep much of that on hand, so I chose the Scotch pad and steel wool as it was more readily available.

From left to right: 220 grit, 320 grit, Scotch pad, and finally 0000 steel wool.  The whole process takes less than a minute per nut.

Chuch the nut in gently and smooth the face with light hand pressure.

Before and After

The payoff

The Handle: Saw handles vary in condition.  They can be so bad that they should be discarded and a new handle fitted, they can require some simple clean up and refinishing, or they can be left alone entirely.  This saw had a handle in great condition, just some minor wear on a few edges.  I’m tempted to make it look like new again, but there’s really no need and I have enough to keep me busy at the moment so for now I simply re-attached it as-is.  For more information on making a handle from scratch, click here and here.

The Finished Product: I ended up putting about 1.5 hours into the saw as well as the $10 it cost to purchase.  I’m quite pleased overall, now I just need a full sized rip saw and then I’ll probably have to make a new saw till to hold everything.

The completed D-8 crosscut saw.

Handle and Hardware.

Logo detail nicely intact.

-WMT