Antique Disston Saw Restore

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Project by Dan posted 12-15-2010 08:26 AM 5230 views 7 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last week I picked up a big tub of old tools at a local auction for 17 dollars. This saw was one of the many great finds in that bin. I posted it on the forum and asked you guys if it was something I should restore or not. I really didn’t and still don’t know a whole lot about hand saws.. The responses I got were to restore it so here it is. Possibly a late 1800’s Henry Disston & Sons back saw completely restored.

Not nearly as time consuming as it is for me to restore a hand plane but it did take me a good 5 hours spread out over a few days.. I started out by removing the blade and soaking it over night in EvapoRust. The following day I removed the blade from the EvapoRust and began to scrub, sand, polish and buff. I did all of this by hand as its my personal preference. The brass elements were all sanded with a very fine grit sanding bar and then hand polished with a brass polish that I got from the local store. I then soaked the handle with degrease solution and scrubbed it with one of them green pads. Once it dried I only lightly sanded it and then refinished with a few coats of Shellac. I didn’t want the handle to look brand new as i didn’t want to take away the character of the saws age. After the Shellac dried I rubbed it down with some fine grit steel wool to get rid some of the shine of the new finish.

I get so much joy out of taking what most would call junk and turning it into something beautiful. Just some rags, cleaners and sandpaper is all I was armed with. You just have to take the time… Its well worth it.

My local sharpening place can sharpen the saw for 11 dollars so I am going to have them sharpen it for me. I don’t want to attempt it myself. They are a very reputable place and I trust them a lot more then I do me.

Thanks for looking

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

29 comments so far

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


743 posts in 3781 days

#1 posted 12-15-2010 09:00 AM

Beautifully done! I most enjoy how the old handles feel in my hand. They feel so much more comfortable than modern saw handles do – even those on expensive modern saws.

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3545 days

#2 posted 12-15-2010 10:42 AM

That was certainly in sorry shape to start with! Nice job.

-- David from Indiana --

View mafe's profile


12104 posts in 3597 days

#3 posted 12-15-2010 12:44 PM

Thats a beautiful old saw,and a wonderful job you have done.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3288 days

#4 posted 12-15-2010 01:42 PM

FIVE HOURS ? Wow..I’ve spent a whole lot more time on old saws and not had that kind of result !
It now looks like a saw that had hardly been used, just bumped about over the years. Very nice work.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View SC_Galoot's profile


30 posts in 4390 days

#5 posted 12-15-2010 03:44 PM

Amazing job, Dan! That’s a saw to be proud of, to be sure. This has me motivated to hit the local antique shops again. You can never have enough saws, after all. Are you planning on restoring some of the other tools from your cache?

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 3284 days

#6 posted 12-15-2010 03:49 PM

You did a very nice job cleaning the saw up, should be a pleasure to use as well.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4600 days

#7 posted 12-15-2010 04:23 PM

That’s an amazing resurrection Dan. I’m sure bringing an old classic like that back to life is very satisfying. Wonderful job!

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View swirt's profile


4225 posts in 3479 days

#8 posted 12-15-2010 04:35 PM

Great work Dan. It looks real nice.

Be inquisitive at the local saw sharpener. Many will simply grind off the old teeth and punch new ones in. Sometimes the punch can create a bit of stress on a blade and cause a warp. Plus the act will decrease the depth of the blade too. Ideally you want them to sharpen the teeth it has, not create new ones (unless you are looking to change the number of teeth per inch).

-- Galootish log blog,

View rayn's profile


179 posts in 3726 days

#9 posted 12-15-2010 04:39 PM

Great Job!

-- Ray,Iowa

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3388 days

#10 posted 12-15-2010 04:43 PM

Glen- A good steel and brass polish will do most of the work for you, just let it soak in the polish then buff it out, then soak and buff, then soak and buff… I polished the saw at least 8 times. I just keep repeating the polishing process until my buffing towel no longer turns black. Same with the brass… I do same process on my hand planes now. Doing this will really cut back any sanding time but I did spend about an hour sanding the blade with a fine grit sanding bar.

CharlieL- Thanks for reminding me. I usually wax all my metal tools but I didn’t do the saw yet so ill have to do that.

SC- I am restoring two more of the saws and also cleaned up a few block planes that were in the tub but thats probably all from that bunch for now. I have about 6 hand planes I am restoring all at the same time and I got the parts all mixed up and scattered about so I will focus on finishing those.. I’ll post pics when I am done.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3388 days

#11 posted 12-15-2010 04:46 PM

Swirt- Thanks for the info on the sharpening. I will check with them and see what methods they offer. I am not looking to change the teeth. I want to keep it as original as I can.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View HallTree's profile


5665 posts in 4275 days

#12 posted 12-15-2010 06:05 PM

Five hours spent on a junk saw. I love it. Nice job.

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View Big_Eddy's profile


57 posts in 3390 days

#13 posted 12-15-2010 06:11 PM

Awesome is all I can say

-- If i'd a knowed you coulda goed I'd a seen you gotta went

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3548 days

#14 posted 12-15-2010 06:13 PM

Nice Restore to the old girl !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Rev_John's profile


94 posts in 4396 days

#15 posted 12-15-2010 07:37 PM

Great Job! It’s good to restore and “recycle” great old tools

-- John from Jackson, Michigan

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