Refurbish, Reclaim or Reject!! #1: Picked Up and Old, Early Disston today. Is it too far gone?

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Blog entry by Dex378 posted 02-01-2016 01:50 PM 1199 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Refurbish, Reclaim or Reject!! series Part 2: Restoring Vintage Brass Hand Saw Medallions, No Chemicals! »

So I went to my local salvage/resale store today looking for anything cool they might have up in the tool section. After rummaging through all the junk I found a complete postwar Stanley #4 bench plane for $3.00, some halfway decent rasps for $0.25 each, and few other odds and ends.
As I was leaving I decided to dig through all the hand saws they had jammed in an old slop sink. After going through about 30 of them I came across an early Disston.
I looked at it for a little while and the handle was beat, the whole thing was rusty, and worst of all it had a chunk missing off the toe! Useless junk right?

Piece of crap right?
BUT…. I saw the 8 inside the D on the etching…. Pre-1928 Skewback D8… Then I saw the early H. Disston & Sons Phila brass insert button… A pre-1917 D-8…. But, still a beat up, broken piece of…...

Ok, but I love junk (which is why I can only fit one car in my garage….). So naturally I had to have it. It didn’t have a price on it. I brought it up to the register with the rest of my crap and the lady at the counter must have taken one look at me, one look at the trash I was buying and must have laughed to herself and took pity on me. $4.00 cash, out the door! Basically because I bought this Disston I got a discount… I cost me negative $1.00!

So let’s recap. It’s a pre-1917 22” 9ppi Disston D8 crosscut saw. It has an unusable handle for any serious work and worst of all it has a 3/4” by 1/2” tear out of the nose. Here is my question: what do you guys think I should do? I have 3 options.
1. Put it in the garage for the rest of my days then hand it down to one of my sons so they can throw it away.
2. Restore it. Clean it up, refit a new handle, trim the nose down an inch and make it a 21” saw.
3. Reclaim it! Junk the handle, cut it down to 12” or 14”, add a brass back, make a new handle (which I could mount using the original pins), and retool the teeth for its new use…... It does have a really nice and straight, thin kerf.

If anyone is interested let me know what you guys think, we are taking the kids away for a couple of days then when I get back I’ll make a decision. I’ll continue the blog. If I restore it or reclaim it, I’ll keep posting pics. Thanks!!

-- Only the Finest Finish Work.

4 comments so far

View iambob's profile


8 posts in 1478 days

#1 posted 02-01-2016 02:09 PM

It would be marvelous restored & given a new handle, but I personally would not “cut-it-down, any.. That, I think, would diminish its’ historic VALUE. Just my opinion. I look forward to serial postings.

-- Robert, Michigan,

View chrisstef's profile


18026 posts in 3613 days

#2 posted 02-01-2016 02:23 PM

I’m all for restoring old saws but I’m hesitant with the looks of that plate. It may have gone brittle on you. I think I would try setting the teeth a little bit before I put any effort into cleaning it up. It you start breaking teeth its a no good.

If you do choose to move forward with the refurb I would cut that toe off and bring it down to a 20” saw which happens to be my favorite length of panel saw.

She’s a bit of a basket case but with enough work it can be made usable again. But its going to be work. Clean the plate, glue the handle back together, make a new upper horn, clean the hardware and sharpen the saw. She needs the works.

All in all, for a negative dollar, it was worth it. Hardware is solid.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Billy E's profile

Billy E

162 posts in 2686 days

#3 posted 02-01-2016 02:24 PM

If it’s straight, it’s usable. I’d just clean the rust off, repair the handle where cracked, sharpen it and be done with it. I wouldn’t put much into replacing the handle or trimming the blade off…

-- Billy, Florence SC

View JayT's profile


6358 posts in 2817 days

#4 posted 02-01-2016 02:28 PM

I’d pick #2. Restore it and use it, if at all possible. I think you could save the handle with a good repair and not have to make a new one. I agree with stef about making it a 20in saw (a common length) instead of a 21in.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing the work, contact fellow LJ summerfi, he does excellent restorations. Here’s a Disston #12 I sent him a while back



-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

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