3 x 19th Century hand saw refurbishment

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Project by bluekingfisher posted 03-06-2018 08:47 PM 1943 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
3 x 19th Century hand saw refurbishment
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A couple of months ago I bought three old saw on eBay for £18. I only wanted them to salvage the saw nuts as I had another project in need of them.

This is what turned up. Plates and handles in bad shape

They were in a poor state, not fit for much except for spares. I laid them on the bench for a few days but could convince myself to scrap them.

It was a couple of months ago now i refurbed them and I took so many photos, so I hope they all match up with the relevant saw as I describe them. Stay with me.

I will start with the saw shown in the bottom of the photograph, I refer to it as 7 PPI rip.

I believe it was originally a 6 PPI Xcut pattern with a 28” blade. At some point the top horn has been broken off.

Once I had the handle off the damage to the plate was also evident

The plate, with all the others went into an acid bah to remove the worst of the rust while I worked on the handle. Although I am highlighting one saw at a time for the purpose of the post. I actually had them all stripped down at the same time, working on each one while glue dried etc.

I must admit the saw plates were in the bath longer than I had anticipated, about 5 days rather than my planned one day. Still the plates were pretty rusty so the extra couple of days steeping did them no harm.

After 5 days

While the plates were steeping I needed to repair the horn. I found that after 150 years or so the wood was a little oily from all the coats of BLO it inevitably received. I cleaned the bare wood with acetone to remove most of the residue prior to gluing. When I began planing the damaged area I noticed a small hairline crack. I don’t know why I did but I planed away more than I had wanted to. Still I left me with more surface area. I scrapped an old woodie plane of similar vintage as the donor piece for all the planes.

Trying to clamp a scarfed piece to a saw tote is awkward, here is how I tackled it.

And with the scarfed piece roughed out at the bandsaw.

After a little hand shaping with rasps and sand paper.

I have always found it difficult to match the dark colouring of old tools so I decided to “revive” the handle, to try to introduce the old patina into the new wood. It helped greatly but could be better.

A little mixed stain helped further balance the colouring.

The original plate was 28” long, far too unwieldy for my needs so I chopped it down to a more manageable 22”

I like the old saw makers test nib, so when I cut the plate down I traced the outline and shaped it to resemble the old time saws.

The teeth were also in poor state and I already have several 6ppi saws with varying tooth patterns. So, I decided to make his one a 7ppi rip pattern. I filed all the teeth away and re cut them.

I must at this point thank the Norse Woodworker for offering free tooth patterns, thanks, mate.

I applied several coats of of oil and poly finish with a little added pigment to even the colouring of the handle. I even buffed the saw nuts, they will darke. Over time so it doesn’t look so squeaky clean.

You can see the patch, although with time and sweat from my hand the joint will blend.

Ok, the next two went throughout a similar process so I will summarise, before you all nod off lol.

I refer to this one as the London Pattern…...... because of the tote shape.

The handle was damaged on both top and bottom horns

It also was rotted away in the kerf line, unfortunately I did not photo this damage. I did photograph the repair.

Cutting the new kerf to accept the saw plate.

I chopped the plate on this one too to 22”. However I took off some at each end as the heel end was badly corroded around the existing saw nut holes.

I shaped the plate at the stationary disc sander and careful application of a 4” angle grinder.

When I removed the handle on this saw, very precarious as the saw nuts are very delicate and fragile. I noted one had broken off, some time ago judging by the corrosion on the sheared end. I tried to replicate the old style slotted nut with a contemporary saw nut.

I decided to leave the tooth pattern as it was, which was 41/2 PPI cross cut. I filed it with 15 degrees of rake and 25 degrees of fleam. Quite standard for a cross cut saw.

All complete. You can just about see the scarfed repairs to both top and bottom horns?.

I had planned to salvage the saw nuts from all of these saws. As it happens I kept one set for my forthcoming project.
You will see in the next images I have used contemporary saw nuts, not pretty but at least the saw lives another day. I was running out of need for saws until I remembered I have a small Stanley 150 mitre box which I intend to refurb at some point. I have no saw for it so I chopped this saw down to 18” and filed it for rip cut at 10 PPI. A mitre box saw is usually filed for cross cut. However I have found that teeth rip filed at 10ppi with a little less rake on the teeth cut adequately well when cross cutting. I applied the same saw makers test nib detail to all three saws. I think it keeps the 19th Century spirit of the saws alive.

All three before and after, laid out as they were from top to bottom.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

12 comments so far

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4228 days

#1 posted 03-06-2018 09:02 PM

I had taken a ton more photograph and had originally planned to go into more detail on the methods I used and the geometry of the tooth patterns etc. However, posting the project I find is more of a job than the project itself. Besides, I never seem to have enough time to sit down and type it all out. Thanks for looking anyways


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View Don W's profile

Don W

20190 posts in 3816 days

#2 posted 03-06-2018 09:08 PM

Nice restorations. Taking the pictures is very time consuming, I agree.

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17535 posts in 3867 days

#3 posted 03-06-2018 09:36 PM

You did a great job on those saws, and on the blog as well. Speaking from experience, it’s often a drag to take all the pictures necessary to tell the story and then compose the narrative. Thanks for your efforts!

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

View mikethetermite's profile


602 posts in 4514 days

#4 posted 03-06-2018 10:57 PM

Really turned out great. I have my grand dads hand saws that could use a little cleaning. What did you use to clean the blade?

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4115 days

#5 posted 03-06-2018 10:57 PM

You did a beautiful job on refurbishing these saws. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View RPhillips's profile


1323 posts in 3084 days

#6 posted 03-06-2018 11:34 PM

You did a great job on those saws, and on the blog as well. Speaking from experience, it s often a drag to take all the pictures necessary to tell the story and then compose the narrative. Thanks for your efforts!

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

I second what Smitty and Don said… great job!

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22441 posts in 4924 days

#7 posted 03-06-2018 11:38 PM

Nice post David, Great job. I need to remember this one.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View tyvekboy's profile


2133 posts in 4261 days

#8 posted 03-07-2018 12:52 AM

Great Restorations. Just goes to show that old tools don’t get thrown away … they just get refurbished.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1133 posts in 3561 days

#9 posted 03-07-2018 09:21 AM

You did a great job in all respects on these saws! I’ll bet they cut like a dream.
Did you consider using the blade off cuts to make a kerning saw to use when resawing to create thinner stock?
Where did you get the new saw nuts? I’ve not been able to find a supplier in the UK.

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

View Turkeyfeather's profile


3 posts in 1356 days

#10 posted 03-07-2018 11:58 AM

Very nice. I love seeing old tools put back to use for which they were intended.

View wcp's profile


156 posts in 1847 days

#11 posted 03-08-2018 06:18 PM

Great post. I like my old hand saws, I have one my Uncle used in construction that he gave me when I was about 12 years old. I may have to be on the lookout for old neglected saws and try my hand a restoring. I’ve never sharpened a hand saw before so that too may be an experiment.


View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4228 days

#12 posted 03-08-2018 10:50 PM

Thanks for all the kind comments gents, much appreciated. I am pleased to note some of you lads also find the compiling of photos an issue. Particularly when the post is typed on an iPad (not ideal) sometimes trying to,determine the image you need for a relevant point is awkward trying to identify a small thumbnail.

Mikethetermite – the blades were covered in a layer of rust so I dunked them in a bath of white vinegar and water, mixed roughly 50/50 (not critical) I left them in there for a few days to steep. I have found a day I saw fine for light rust, more advanced stage of decay require a little more time. It’s a messy job, the chemical,reaction leaves a thick black gummy film on the plates which must be rinsed off. finally, I used wet and dry paper then finished off with autosomal metal polish with 0000 wool. The level of polish is down to the individual of course. A final coat of wax and baby oil prevents the rust from returning.

Jim – I keep the off cuts for scrapers and such, not really enough of the plate left to make a kerfing saw.
You can find the saw nuts at Workshop Heaven. I believe they are £2.50 each.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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