Saws: Restoring, Collecting, Using – My 7 Month Journey

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Blog entry by summerfi posted 05-16-2014 04:38 PM 16996 reads 4 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Saws: Restoring, Collecting, Using – My 7 Month Journey

It has been seven months since my first post on Lumberjocks. The motivation for that first post was to try to locate a medallion for a $3 British-made handsaw I purchased on eBay. Little did I know at the time what lay ahead for me on the journey of saw restoration and collecting.

Photo: My $3 saw that started it all.

Now, with summer coming on and my attention, of necessity, turning more towards catching up on all my outside chores and my summertime job of working on forest fires, my work on saws will likely slow down for a few months. This seems like a good time to pause and reflect on what has occurred over the past 7 months.

First, in the middle of those 7 months I underwent a major foot surgery that kept me out of the shop for about two months. So really, we’re talking about 5 months of actual work on saws. During the two months I was immobile, though, I did a lot of studying and planning on the subject of saws.

Photo: My foot after surgery.

While I’ve used handsaws virtually all of my 65 year life, I previously gave them little thought. They were simply tools to do a job. I didn’t know a lot about them except how to use them to saw a board. I’ve learned a lot on this journey, including these things:

+ The history of American and British saws and saw makers
+ The types of saws and what they are used for
+ Techniques for restoring saws
+ How to sharpen saws
+ How to make saw plates, saw handles, and brass split-nut saw screws and assemble them into a saw.

Photo: Home made saw screws and handle.

At the outset of this journey, I decided to play a little game by trying to acquire some quality saws at no cost. My plan was to buy saws either locally or on eBay, restore them, sell the ones I didn’t want, and use the money to pay for the ones I decided to keep. It’s not that I couldn’t afford to buy saws. I just felt taking this no-cost approach would make the adventure more fun – and it has. As of today, I am more than $100 in the black in this little game. All the profits I make are turned back into saws or other old tools.

To date I’ve sold a total of 16 saws that I restored. Here is a complete list:

(2) Disston D-8 handsaws
(2) Disston later model backsaws
Disston D-8 panel saw
Disston No. 7 handsaw
Disston No. 7 panel saw
Great Northern Railway saw (unknown maker)
Jackson backsaw
Keen Kutter handsaw
Norvell’s Fast Mail panel saw
Supplee Hardware handsaw
Charles Woollen handsaw
Robert Sorby handsaw
Atkins handsaw
Simonds handsaw

That’s over two saws per month, and that alone would be a pretty good accomplishment for the past 7 months. But what about the saws I’ve kept? I’ll present them here in two lists: British and American.

British Saws

1. Drabble & Sanderson (New plate added)
2. Thomas Flinn (Brass spine is original; all other parts were made by me.)
3. Taylor Brothers (New handle made by me.)
4. Spear & Jackson
5. Wheatman & Smith
6. Robert Sorby
7. Thomas White
8. J. Beardshaw & Son (Unrestored)
9. I. Fearn (Unrestored)
10 Reproduction Smith’s Key Saw (Plate is repurposed from another saw. Handle made by me)
11. J. Taylor & Son rip
12. J. Taylor & Son crosscut
13. Richard Groves & Son (New plate added.)
14. Spear & Jackson (New handle made by me.)

American Saws

1. Henry Disston & Sons
2. Richardson Brothers
3. Harvey W. Peace
4. Richardson Brothers
5. Josiah Bakewell
6. Holley, Mason, Marks & Co. Hardware
7. Small saw made from a worn out Disston D-8 plate. Sycamore handle made by me.

That’s a lot of saws for the short time I’ve been doing this! But as they say, it’s a labor of love, and it has given me a lot of enjoyment and a strong sense of accomplishment. It’s a good feeling when I look at the “keeper” saws resting in my saw till or take one out and make an effortless cut through a board. The things I’ve learned about restoring and sharpening saws are equally satisfying.

So what lies ahead on this journey? I’ll still keep my eyes open for saw bargains over the next few months, and restore a few as time allows. My goal, though, is to begin making saws. The restorations I’ve done were excellent practice and a huge help in developing the requisite skill set for saw making. I’d like to make a complete set of matching saws ranging from the smallest dovetail saw to the largest rip handsaw. That, however, will have to wait until the snow begins falling next winter.

I’d like to thank my friends on Lumberjocks for their inspiration, encouragement, and knowledge sharing along the way on my saw journey. Those who frequent the Saws, using collecting, cleaning and buying thread are especially appreciated.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

11 comments so far

View JayT's profile


6431 posts in 3450 days

#1 posted 05-16-2014 04:47 PM

Great write-up, Bob. Love the saw collection and appreciate your willingness to share the knowledge you’ve picked up. I do have to hate you, however, for encouraging another tool category to collect. :-)

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

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1984 posts in 3208 days

#2 posted 05-16-2014 04:48 PM

Wow! That was a really great read there. Thanks for sharing that

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3200 days

#3 posted 05-16-2014 05:52 PM

Bob those have all turned out great. Even better seeing the detailed restore posts. They are some lucky saws that you found them. Mine should have it so good.

View summerfi's profile


4385 posts in 2926 days

#4 posted 05-16-2014 06:05 PM

Thanks guys.

Tim – you were the first to respond to my original post and you encouraged me to participate in the saw thread. Without you, I may never have taken this path. Thanks bud.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View Brit's profile


8437 posts in 4082 days

#5 posted 05-16-2014 08:05 PM

Ah you can’t beat a good saw can you Bob and you have amassed quite a few nice saws there. I always love reading about your posts. You have a talent for writing sir. Long may it continue.

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

View luv2learn's profile


3143 posts in 3542 days

#6 posted 05-16-2014 08:26 PM

Bob, it is nice to have you as a resource for hand saws. Thanks for the information and a glimpse into your hand saw journey.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Don W's profile

Don W

20177 posts in 3807 days

#7 posted 05-16-2014 08:30 PM

Bob your writing is right up there with your saw restorations.

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

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3200 days

#8 posted 05-17-2014 12:33 AM

You’re very welcome, Bob.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8577 posts in 3221 days

#9 posted 05-17-2014 04:48 AM

Great stuff Bob. You’ve been a wonderful addition to this madhouse. I’m proud to have one of your saws in my shop, and I’m looking forward to watching you make your own.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 4019 days

#10 posted 05-17-2014 09:22 AM

Nicely done Bob, well written, and only 7 months, less the foot pause ?
You have some serious skill level there.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View walden's profile


1552 posts in 3261 days

#11 posted 08-12-2014 03:25 AM

Great post Bob!

-- "I am hiring a realtor if and when the day comes a lion is on my roof."

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