terryR's Rusty Saw Blog #1: Disston No. 4 Backsaw

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Blog entry by terryR posted 03-18-2012 10:42 PM 3416 reads 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of terryR's Rusty Saw Blog series Part 2: 1931-1935 No. 5 Disston-Keystone Handle Replacement »

Hi everyone, welcome to terryR’s Rusty Saw Blog Series. Here I hope to document my efforts with these old pieces of history and pass on as many tips as possible…chances are you LJ’s will continue to teach me more than I know…

I’ve always had a fondness for rusty, old tools…probably because I grew up in the countryside where old agricultural equipment is used for yard décor. I never saw the old tools as worthless…just sitting in wait. Then after reading a few blogs here on restoring these old saws, I was very intrigued about trying the process.

Andy's Saw Talk
Don W's Hand Saw Restore Reference

What really did me in was my beginner’s restoration of this 1932-1939 Disston No. 4 back saw:

I had to use the Dremel to remove an old set of initials carved into the saw’s back, then sand forever to remove those tool marks. I also sanded the saw’s plate quite a bit to remove rust and as much pitting as I could, but this one was in pretty bad shape to start with.

After watching LJ member mafe re-shape a relatively recent handle to make it look older and more hand-crafted here, I wanted to try the same. All it took was a few cuts here and there, followed by rasp and file work to create the shape I envisioned:

Once shaped, I sanded the handle from P80 to P1500 grit, trying to soften the edges a bit as I went along. For finish, I used a few coats of Watco Danish Oil…light walnut and clear…then multiple coats of wax. Simple.

Next…the brass hardware needed to be cleaned…I was scared to ruin the original medallion, so begged others on LJ’s for advice. I received tons of ideas and finally chose to sand the brass from P220 grit to P1500…followed by a brief cleaning with 3M Marine metal polish. Wow! I was amazed!

Even more so when the final parts were re-assembled:

Not a perfect job, I know, but nice enough for a newbie that I caught the restoration bug bad! Hopefully I can learn to re-sharpen these saws this year and REALLY give new life to these wonderful tools. Stay tuned…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

6 comments so far

View SisQMark's profile


384 posts in 3653 days

#1 posted 03-18-2012 10:54 PM

Terry, very nice restore, it looks like a whole different saw, well done!

-- Don't waste today, it is yesterdays tomorrow!~SisQMark

View Brit's profile


8305 posts in 3895 days

#2 posted 03-18-2012 11:23 PM

Great blog Terry. Your shaping skills are second to none. You have a real talent for it and you’ve breathed new life into that rusty forgotten tool. I’m looking forward to your future posts and thanks for the mention.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

19983 posts in 3620 days

#3 posted 03-19-2012 12:18 PM

that’s a great looking restore.

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

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4131 days

#4 posted 03-19-2012 05:25 PM

Good job, Terry. I too have some such old tools that can use some TLC . . . but later. LOL

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4204 days

#5 posted 03-19-2012 09:50 PM

Terry you do the best smoothing of edges I’ve seen, very nice!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View bch's profile


303 posts in 3742 days

#6 posted 10-31-2014 10:02 PM

Positively gorgeous! Wow!

-- --bch

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