Adventures in Tool Making #2: A Pair of Tenon Saws from a Disston Miter Saw - Roughing the Handles

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Blog entry by grfrazee posted 05-13-2013 06:46 PM 3968 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: A Pair of Tenon Saws from a Disston Miter Saw - Cutting the Saw Plate Part 2 of Adventures in Tool Making series Part 3: A Pair of Tenon Saws from a Disston Miter Saw - Shaping, Sanding, Polishing, and Finishing »

The last blog entry ended with me having two saw blades ready for handles.

The handle material I chose to use was mesquite, which I bought from fellow LJ BlueStingrayBoots a while back. One of the pieces he sent me was about 5/4 thick. I decided to use the Marshall & Cheetham backsaw handle template available at the TGIAG website for these saws. I printed off two of the templates and laid them out on the mesquite to get an idea of roughly how much material I needed.

Then I clamped the hunk of mesquite in the leg vise and went to town with my Disston 7tpi saw (the teeth look like they’re rip-filed, but it cuts pretty well cross-cut, so who knows).

After that I ran the piece through the planer to trim it down to a more comfortable 7/8” thickness. That’s how thick my Veritas 20tpi dovetail saw handle is, and that handle fits like a glove for my hands.

I found the spray adhesive my dad has, but of course the tip was all gummed up and unusable. Had to use some normal PVA glue and spread it out to lay the templates down.

At this point, my dad had about 250lbs of plywood and drywall leaning against the band saw, making it unreachable. So I used the coping saw to separate the two handle blanks.

The TGIAG templates have markings for different size bits to make cutting out easier, so I chucked up the various Forstner bits into the drill press and drilled those out. Saved the shavings for the smoker later too!

If you recall the first image, one of the blade blanks already has holes drilled in it from the original handle. I figured it would be best to reuse those in the new handle, though one of the holes is just there, unused. The other blade I could do what I wanted with the holes, so I used the spacing shown on the template.

A while back I won an ebay auction for ~100 saw nuts that some guy took off a bunch of old saws. They’re all the domed-head ones you see with Disston-type saws, unfortunately, and not the nice all-brass split nuts like Wenzloff & Sons sells. Ah, oh well, at least I have enough to last me through at least 30 saws. The saw nuts from the original Disston handle had a head about 9/16” in diameter. I did not have a 9/16” Forstner bit, so I use my bit brace for those. I found a pair of nuts with 1/2” diameter heads and used that on the other handle. The drilling sequence for the saw nuts was exactly like what Gramercy shows in their instructions making the handle to their 12” carcase saw.

Also at this point, my dad finally came in and helped me move all of the plywood/drywall off the band saw, so I used that to rough out the rest of the handles.

With the handles roughed out and the holes drilled, I could cut the kerf for the blades on each handle. I used my ryoba saw for the first kerf.

After that, I discovered that I can’t cut a straight line with that (my fault, not the saw’s), so I used my Veritas 20tpi dovetail saw to clean up the first one and to cut the second one. That worked a little better.

Next I rounded over the hand hold part of the handle. Probably should have waited until I did the recess for the spine, but oh well. For this, I just put a 3/8” roundover bit in the router and crept up on it.

They’re starting to look good now! Next was taking out the recess for the spine. For this, I found an appropriately-sized brad point bit and roughed it out on the drill press. Then I cleaned everything up with a 3/16” mortise chisel and a couple bevel-edged chisels.

And now for a test fit.

This is as far as I got over the weekend. Hopefully I can make it back to my parents’ house soon and finish these guys up.


3 comments so far

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1133 posts in 3557 days

#1 posted 05-13-2013 07:31 PM

These are looking good. Will you be cleaning the blades before final assembly?

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 3384 days

#2 posted 05-13-2013 07:39 PM

Jim, I have a bottle of rust remover sitting in my toolbox for my return. I plan on making the blades as shiny as I can before I’m done.


View Don W's profile

Don W

20180 posts in 3812 days

#3 posted 05-14-2013 03:17 PM

excellent save.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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