Beginner Woodworker/First saw restoration - Need advice

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Forum topic by Brahmus posted 06-02-2017 01:28 PM 3221 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 971 days

06-02-2017 01:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question refurbishing

Hello everybody, new to this site and woodworking. I have no power tools other than a dremel and a cordless drill, and my hand tool selection is about as robust. I had picked up some old saws for a buck apiece at an estate sale awhile back because I hated to see the old tools thrown in a dumpster to rust away. I want to start some simple projects, a few small home improvement things and build a sand/water table for my daughter so I thought I would clean up my saws and see if they can be made serviceable.

The saw I am starting with is a Disston and I believe it is a D-8 made between 1896 and 1917 (I checked the Disstonian Institute)

It has a lot of surface rust, and some heavier rust in a section of the teeth.

I used a putty knife to scrape some of the rust away and I am thinking about giving it a vinegar bath. Just wanted to know if that would be OK to do, or if it would damage the saw in some way.

I took the handle off, and it is shot- an entire section of it is broken off from the rest.

I was curious how tough a job it would be to fashion a new handle (I kept the broken one as a template) given that I have next to no tools. I don’t mind spending a little money on tools, since I will need them anyway, but my budget is limited right now.

This is the current state of the blade with the rust somewhat scraped off:

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I appreciate any advice you can offer.

Have a good day!

13 replies so far

View Johnny7's profile


478 posts in 1700 days

#1 posted 06-02-2017 02:55 PM

My advice (worth what you paid for it):

set it aside and start with something in better shape—this is far too ambitious a project given your current skill level and tool set.
The teeth on this one would take many jointing and shaping sessions before they could even be sharpened, and the depth of rust might even make tooth-setting hazardous.

D-8s are incredibly common in the field. Find one in better shape and learn on that one.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1257 days

#2 posted 06-02-2017 04:52 PM

I disagree …. the rip saw I currently use (all the time) looked worth than this. I paid $3.

YES, set-up a dam of sorts with a plastic trash bag and some scrape 2 bys and give this thing a soak in vinegar for a few days … rub it down every few hours and change vinegar if need be … it’s cheap! Once the rust is removed ( and you might have some pitting) ... go to town sharpening it … just might learn something! If you break a tooth or two, so what … you’re only out a buck. And like I said … maybe you’ll lean something! Find some scrap wood and make a handle. Good luck … and if you have questions … DON’T hesitate to ask!

PS – Nice looking sway back!

View Brahmus's profile


4 posts in 971 days

#3 posted 06-02-2017 07:54 PM

Thank you for the advice, I am thinking maybe I should do what both of you suggested. I will buy a throwaway $10 stanley or similar saw for the immediate future (have some things I want to work on this weekend) and when the teeth dull I can cut it up and use it for something else.

For a better starter project I have this no-name saw that has a red “warranted superior” medallion. Not sure who the original maker of this might be. I think the blade is in better shape, but the handle is riveted to the blade. It has a small amount of play in it, but not so much that I see it causing any major problems. Would this be something better suited for a beginner?

If so should I skip the vinegar since the handle is attached? Or would I just suspend the saw into the vinegar with the blade 1/2 inch above the liquid?

It has this red sticker on one side of the blade, can make out “Quality Discount Dept Stores”.

I am still going to give the Disston a vinegar soak and see what it looks like. Worst case I clean it up and just hang it on the wall for now. I will also keep my eyes open for something in better condition!

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1257 days

#4 posted 06-02-2017 08:10 PM

... should I skip the vinegar since the handle is attached? Or would I just suspend the saw into the vinegar with the blade 1/2 inch above the liquid?

I would drill out the rivets and reattach with new saw bolts … might even make a new tote! You could make the two totes similar in appearance … might make for a nice set!

View chrisstef's profile


18029 posts in 3616 days

#5 posted 06-02-2017 08:21 PM

That’s a crusty one!

Id scrape all the rust off that I could with a razor blade. Like one of those paint scraper jammys. Then, as suggested, soak and scrub, soak and scrub. The handle might be gluable, might not. Give it a shot and see what happens. You’re only going to be out some glue. Those teeth are pretty well mangled but again, a good spot to learn. You might not make it usable again but youll gather knowledge and experience. You’ve got a decent saw but nothing that’s irreplaceable. A panther head it aint.

IMO, play around with it, have fun, learn a few things along the way.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1257 days

#6 posted 06-02-2017 11:06 PM

... has this red sticker on one side of the blade, can make out “Quality Discount Dept Stores”.

- Brahmus

I was curious and did a Google search for Zody’s … found this … ”Zodys was a chain of discount retail stores that operated operated locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Michigan from 1960 to 1986.”

View FoundSheep's profile


196 posts in 1066 days

#7 posted 06-03-2017 02:45 AM

Enjoy the adventure with your new saws! There’s a lot of good advice on this forum. Some other points:

- both mineral spirits or simple green can help when you use a high grit sand paper after scraping and soaking them.
- definitely try gluing the handle, it might just work.
- with the D8, the cut-in for the blade into the handle is a complex 2 curve. Look at the steel with the double curve, that was actually and important patent Disston had fitting it in, so you might need to get creative if you make a new handle.
- if you need to make new handles, drilling the radius’s, cope saw the curves, then use rasps and sand paper to smooth it out. Also works to make existing handles feel/fit better.
- remember to always oil the tools after using them! Boiled linseed oil is a good start.

-- -Will, FoundSheep Designs

View rodneywt1180b's profile


185 posts in 996 days

#8 posted 06-03-2017 03:18 AM

For the Disston you’re not out anything but time and maybe $10 for materials by trying to restore it. Worth it for the experience if nothing else. For the handle I would use epoxy to glue it back together due to it’s excellent gap filling properties. The blade I recommend wet sanding with a hard sanding block starting with about 220 grit paper then finer grits down to say 600. Normally I would recommend a finer grit to start but the rust is pretty bad on that one. There may actually be remnants of the etch left under the rust. A vinegar bath will destroy it.
It’s definitely going to need jointing and sharpening. Maybe whole new teeth cut. Whoever had it in the past wasn’t too careful at best. IF the plate cleans up ok it might be worthwhile to send it out for setting the teeth and sharpening.
Despite the fact that the saw is in bad shape and needs a lot of work to bring back it is probably worth doing. A well tuned hand saw is actually a joy to use and sometimes it’s faster to grab a hand saw for a cut than it is to plug in it’s tailed counterpart.

Oh Yeah, Be careful. Hand saws can be addicting.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

View FoundSheep's profile


196 posts in 1066 days

#9 posted 06-03-2017 03:35 AM

And when you’re fully bitten by the saw bug, check out the forum “Saws, using collecting, cleaning, and buying”. Lots of good people there very willing to teach you.

-- -Will, FoundSheep Designs

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2813 days

#10 posted 06-03-2017 04:29 AM

OMG, I think the No name saw would be a better project to start with.
PM Bob Sommerfield and see what he thinks.

Whatever you do rust removal is a must, so off with the handle or suspend it in a pipe /bag to de rust it

-- Regards Rob

View rodneywt1180b's profile


185 posts in 996 days

#11 posted 06-03-2017 06:22 PM

Yes. The other saw is in better shape but it’s not near the saw the Disston was before it became the way it is now.
The Disston is pretty rough. It’s going to depend on how severe the pitting is on the plate if it can be saved or not.
If not, it’s still good practice.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

View Brahmus's profile


4 posts in 971 days

#12 posted 06-04-2017 10:43 PM

Ron – I didn’t even realize that said Zodys, I saw the squares around the individual letters and disregarded it, thinking it was a part number or something. I live in Southern California, so that makes sense. Also helps date the saw to the 1960s at the earliest, thank you!

I also grabbed a few more things at a sale today:

The keyhole saw (correct me if that isn’t what it is – still new) is a Disston with the same style medallion as the other. The big saw is a 26” S.C. Atkins and the other 2 don’t have any markings that I can see. I rubbed one briefly with sandpaper but didn’t turn anything up.

Planning to work on all of them, but thinking with so much rust it might be easier to just build a small electrolysis tank and strip the rust that way.

I did drill out the rivets on the original no name. I had never drilled out rivets before so I do the first side and the shank of the rivet is so tiny it looks like wire, which was confused me. I flipped the saw over to pry them out the other side, and it turned out they were just decorative saddle/upholstery tacks. Under 2 of the tacks were a pair of nails that had just been beaten into the handle. Had to gouge some of the wood away but I eventually could get a grip on them and yank them out.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2095 days

#13 posted 06-05-2017 01:05 AM

You can clean the first one up but it’s about shot. Especially if most of the plate comes apart at the spot on the toothline.

If you are going to make mistakes then do it on the ones you have now. I wouldn’t become attached to them is all.

The Atkins looks to be in good shape.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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