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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?
I would have it professionally sharpened. I have seen the computer driven machines that sharpen hand saws and the results that they produce. You can't beat them.

If you want to sharpen it yourself, have it done professionally the first time. Then you only have to maintain 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:



THE BASE

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?
Just oil it. The top will be really easy to care for if all you do is keep it oiled.
 

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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:



THE BASE

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 simply oiled the legs of my workbench, that is the one that acts as an out feed for my tablesaw. It is 4"x4" doug fir and looks like yours.

Over time the legs have turned dark and they look great. They have been dinged and dented but there is no film finish to flake off.

I have also splattered them with paint or finish and I just used a rag dampened with solvent to wipe them off.

A card scraper is used to scrape off dried stuff and I apply more oil. Taking care couldn't be easier.
 

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Bench Almost Complete

More bench progress…

Here is the "tail" vice mortised into the end of the bench. You can also see how the underside of the bench looks with all the different widths I used:

P1010011

Clamping on the wider "apron" pieces front and back:

P1010006

And adding the end aprons with dowels:

P1010007

P1010008

P1010009

P1010010

As you can see I painted the 4×6 fir base black:

P1010030

I leveled the table with shims under the feet and then bolted the legs to the floor:



And then the fun part began…

P1010012

P1010014

I routed the edges of my vice jaws on the router table:

P1010018

P1010020

The vices came out really nicely. I made the tail vice so it would span across the entire width of the bench. That way I could have bench dogs along both edges of the bench for wide clamping.

P1010021

P1010023

Nearly complete… now all I have to do is add the dog holes, and a little sanding/finishing. I actually made it to the Sacramento Woodworking Show on Sunday and picked up some brass Veritas bench dogs.

P1010027

I think it looks really good with the black base.

P1010025

(See all the shavings on the floor!)

UPDATE:

Here are the links to the finished bench and cabinet in my projects:

Blake, If the wood handles are loose and slide freely, be sure to install a leather ring on each end to act as a pad or buffer between the end of the handle and the metal sleeve that holds it. This will save the end of the handle from the shock of sliding down and slamming into the metal.

Looks like a great table. You will love working on a nice bench. It will greatly facilitate your efficiency and productivity. It is one of the best tools you will have in the shop.
 
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