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Hand Tool Journey

103368 Views 175 Replies 87 Participants Last post by  brianinpa
Turn of the Century Disston Dovetail Saw

I found this beautiful old saw hanging on my wall yesterday. I think I bought it at at the flea market a while back and forgot about it.

Its really nice, but its been abused and neglected. Its time for a face lift. I am assuming it is a dovetail saw? I want to know more about it. I would like to become more of a hand tool user.

On the blade it says "HENRY DISSTON AND SONS, CAST STEEL, PHILADA.USA, WARRENTED" And the handle says "C. ROSENBURG" on both sides. It also has an X marked on the edge of the blade stiffener.

What can you tell me about this saw?

  • About how old is it?
  • Is there a name for this style or shape?

I plan on restoring it to a usable and very nice looking saw. I will start by separating the handle and blade. Then I think I will use a chemical stripper on the handle since it is covered in glue and varnish. Then I guess I will give it a good sanding and refinish.

What else should I know about restoring this saw?

  • How should I treat the blade? Just .000 steel and elbow grease?
  • How can I sharpen it?
  • Can I have a professional saw shop sharpen it?
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More Bench Progress

Once I had my two larger bench sections glued up I ran them through the planer…

And chopped the ends square

I used my biscuit jointer to align the two laminated "slabs," since after this glue up it will be too big to run through my thickness planer:

Two slabs glued up:

And now glued up with the tool tray:


I spent $18.00 on 4×6 and 2×6 Doug Fir for the base at Home Depot:

A little shaping of the feet on the bandsaw, and oak pads added:

Mortise cut on the RAS (I do it this way because it is fast)

Leg assembly:

The assembled base (screws and glue… but the screws are well hidden)

A little preview of the whole thing together with the huge old Craftsman vice from the flea market:

By the way, the base alone is MASSIVE. It will weigh a ton with the solid oak top sitting on it.

The top will still get wide edges that wrap around all four sides. This will give the sides more surface area as well as make the top look more substantial (the base won't look so disproportionately huge.)

I haven't decided whether to stain or paint the base (maybe black?)... or leave it natural. I think something darker would look nice and de-emphasize the fact that I used construction-grade lumber.

Any thoughts?

Also, what kind of finish do I use on the oak top? Just oil?
I think that a black or dark stain would look really cool on the bottom. It will definitely make the top look larger, too.
First Hand-Cut Dovetails

I finally got a chance to practice hand-cutting dovetails. This is the first time I've made a cut with my new Japanese dovetail saw and use my new bench too.

I started out with a couple scrap pieces of pine:


I drew the tails:


First cut… didn't follow the line so well. It will take some getting used to.


Here are all the cuts. Some are pretty good and some are pretty far off the line.


This photo is AWESOME. Because as you can see, I did a beautiful job at chopping away my tails (instead of the waste). Notice the X's that should not be intact…


Ok, take TWO…

Not even close:


A lot better:


Chop, Chop, Chop:


Not bad for 2nd try:


Cutting the pins went well. It is easier to saw straight down vertically then at an angle like the tails. Here are the pins being chopped:


It did take a little chisel work to get them to fit but not too much.

And here it is (first completed hand-cut dovetails)

looks pretty good to me, Blake. I've never done dovetails of any kind, much less hand cut. With your skills you should be a pro after a few more attempts.

How do you flush them up? Sanding?
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