Tyzak 14" #120 tenon saw refurb and retooth

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Project by bluekingfisher posted 11-15-2018 04:55 PM 1186 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Over the past week or so I have completed and posted 3 projects for refurbs on small 10” dovetail and tenon saws. This one, which I completed this morning is a 14” heavy brass back tenon saw. Again it’s another Tyzak and sons saw, model #120, probably mid 20h century. It was another auction site purchase, I generally don’t like to spend more than a Tenner on old saws, however I paid 12 quid plus shipping on this one.

Although quite grubby, it was in good condition. The original teeth were reasonably well shaped, if not dull but as I intended to retooth the saw it made little difference. When purchased it had 12 TPI. I already have a saw with this configuration and wanted one with 10 TPI. So it would need to be retoothed.

The saw in its original condition.

The only damage as such was to the tip of the lambs tongue where a fingernail size chunk was missing. This will need repair. The tote was a little loose too, despite the saw nuts being wound in as far as they would go, again, small repairs are required.

Some say never to remove the tote from a saw?..........unless the saw is very valuable I prefer to strip it to see what I am working with. Note the little wooden dowel to the right in the photo, which I use to tap out stubborn saw nuts with. Over zealous actions will most likely strip the threads on the soft brass threads. Tap and twist, tap and twist usually encourages the screw to unwind from the plate if the clearance holes are neat.

When retoothing a saw it Is very important to ensure the plate is as flat and true as possible, any dips or bows on the saw plate edge will manifest once you start to cut and shape the teeth. Much simpler I have found, to spend a few extra minutes with a mill file and straight edge jointing than trying to keep teeth a consistent shape and size when shaping and sharpening if the edge has a belly or a valley. Light even strokes with a sharp file remove the teeth quickly, so be careful. Much like jointing wood, you will feel the high and low spots on the edge, provided your grasp of the file is light.

I use a tooth template supplied by the Norsewoodsmith. Thank you again for providing the template. I just print it off and fix it to the plate with double stick tape. The tape also helps keep the 3 square file on track, preventing it from skidding. I use a small multi tool with a thin kerf cutting disc to start the toothing process. Again, a light touch is required, just enough to create a registration mark for the saw file to engage. Always use a sharp or fresh file for the final pass. I set the teeth then make one final pass before testing. It is easy to obliterate small teeth should you try to push a blunt file through the gullets.

I mentioned the tote was a little loose, over the years the wood of the tote dries/shrinks etc and naturally the owner will tighten the nuts to maintain a firm tote plate set up. It would seem the nuts had been tightened as far as they could go. To the point where they were now below the surface of the handle. Having stripped a few saws I have established some tricks employed by perhaps the original saw maker or one time user. One particular method is to use a wax coated twine to pack out the saw nut recess. I employed this tactic on several of the recesses on this particular saw.

I decided to use an old medallion I had to replace one of the existing saw nuts. Unfortunately it had a smaller shank meaning it would spin in the saw nut recess therefore not fully tighten. I could have drilled out a new recess, plug it then redrill a hole to accommodate the smaller shank. However, if the existing hole is marginally bigger then a shortcut is to use plumbers PTFE tape to wrap the shank for a snug fit, works a treat.

You may notice I reshaped the handle to fit my hand, not only does it feel comfortable, I think it provides better aesthetic?.

I forgot to take photos of the lambs tongue repair, however here are a couple of the repair once stained and finished. Not quite invisible, but good enough.

Once you have taken the time to sharpen and set your teeth, spend an extra 10 minutes making a scabbard to protect the teeth. Nothing more than a stick of wood with a kerf line. Tie it in place with some of that wax twine.

Cutting a test tenon in a kiln dried piece of oak flooring was a snap. These were the first cuts, I didn’t even need to tinker with the tooth setting, the more you do it the more you get a feel for it

After a quick polish, that’s about it. I would encourage anyone to give it a go. It is not difficult once you have the hang of it. Buy a few old bangers and see how it goes. I can strip, clean, sharpen, set, reshape a saw in about 8 hours. Much less if the handle already suits your hand. The only problem is, it can become quite addictive. I have drawers and racks full of them now. Here are a few more photos of SOME of them lol.

Anyway, give it a go folks, thanks for reading.


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

10 comments so far

View Bill Berklich's profile

Bill Berklich

1224 posts in 1628 days

#1 posted 11-15-2018 05:14 PM

I love your refurbs! I have a $1.97usd (plus $10.95 shipping) 14” tenon saw coming today and hope to bring it back/upgrade it. I am expecting to re-handle it. But how do you go about cleaning the blade?

-- Bill - Rochester MI

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4219 days

#2 posted 11-15-2018 06:19 PM

I love your refurbs! I have a $1.97usd (plus $10.95 shipping) 14” tenon saw coming today and hope to bring it back/upgrade it. I am expecting to re-handle it. But how do you go about cleaning the blade?

- Bluenote38

Wow! Expensive shipping.
Anyway, great to read of your forthcoming project. As far as cleaning the plate goes. It can depend on the state of the plate and how you want it to look. Some guys just clean the crude off with nothing more than an oily rag , while I like mine polished.
If your saw has saw nuts that can be removed then great. Some modern saws have a kind of pot rivet set up where they cannot be reused after removal. So, if you want to remove the tote/handle this will make cleaning/polishing easier.
If there is substantial oxidation on the plate, then you can immerse it in a bath of table vinegar, the cheaper the better diluted one to one with water. I also add a little table salt. The chemical,reaction is a little more aggressive. Leave for a day or two, or longer if the plate is particularly gunked. I have left mine in for a week before for heavily corroded plates. When done, rinse off with water and a stiff brush.wear gloves because the reactions turns the crude on the plate black and will,stain hands/clothes etc. Make sure and dry it off and wipe down with some oil if you are not intending on working on it right away.

If there is not much rust and it’s just a little stained, like mine in the previous projects then even better. To polish it, just wrap 100 grit glass paper around a block first off, then just a case of going down the grits until all the scratch marks are removed. Only strike along the length of the plate, not circular or semi circular actions caused by the natural,rotation of you hand. Back and forth, back and forth along the plate. You will notice the plate becoming “shiner with each grit of paper used. I dry sand as far as 240 grit then wet and dry to 2500 grit using WD40 as the lubricant.You could use an orbital sander but is difficult to control tand you could cause deep grooves which are difficult to remove.

By this stage you will have a dull,lustre, which actually looks very nice. From there I change a polishing mop on my grinder with an abrasive compound (chrome polish or autosol would suffice.). Then just buff until you reach the desired level of sheen. The whole action of sanding and polishing should take about an hour, depending on the desired level of lustre sought.

Don’t worry to much about files size whensharpening thenteeth You could go nuts worrying about 4,5,6 or 7” files of varying taper.. as long as the file side is more than twice he depth of your teeth it works fine. That way you achieve maximum use from the file.

Good luck with it.


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

View Andre's profile


4733 posts in 3046 days

#3 posted 11-15-2018 06:21 PM

Great rehab, I’m still trying to get the hang of sharpening hand saws, too much other stuff always!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View pottz's profile


20624 posts in 2224 days

#4 posted 11-15-2018 06:45 PM

nice save for a great old saw that might have ended up trashed.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View tyvekboy's profile


2132 posts in 4253 days

#5 posted 11-15-2018 06:53 PM

Nice rehab.

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

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1133 posts in 3552 days

#6 posted 11-15-2018 06:59 PM

Nicely done! They all look great.

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

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4219 days

#7 posted 11-15-2018 10:32 PM

Thanks gents for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.


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

View Brit's profile


8439 posts in 4082 days

#8 posted 11-20-2018 06:27 PM

Well done David. That’s a nice set of backsaws you have now.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4219 days

#9 posted 11-24-2018 08:16 PM

Well done David. That s a nice set of backsaws you have now.

- Brit

Thanks Andy, it’s become a big of an obsession. I may even put them to work one day. Lol

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

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2726 days

#10 posted 11-24-2018 10:39 PM


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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