A Saw for 200 Years More

DSC_0037Before and after restoration work.DSC_0138

I suppose I do have a passion for lost causes. When I saw this saw at its buy-it-now of £9 my thought was that the handle, split nuts and bolts and brass back were worth much more than that, I have other saws where the plate was in good shape. There were of course two ways to reduce the plate; shorten it or remove all the teeth and cut it down in height to keep the 14” stroke. One would reduce the life of the saw by 20 years, the other just the length of stroke, as I said. The decision was any easy one. Some of you asked why not replate the saw. This then compromises the old against the shiny new, the cost increases and then finding the plate and ordering it takes it out of my DIY realm and the realm of peace I gained in the restorative doing of it. This saw is now comparable in function and looks to any top-notch saw maker of today but with patina, sweat equity and life. It’s not prissy, its real. I like real tools. The saw is so lovely to use.
DSC_0009Yesterday, after cutting the plate down by a couple of inches from 14” to get rid of the split, I demonstrated saw restoration and sharpening to my class as part of their instruction. First I topped the teeth to show how uneven in size and height the teeth were. Visible demonstrations like this inspire others and of course it becomes so tangibly possible when they see it transformed in the different stages. Some teeth were very low; to the point of being almost gone, but by ignoring the space and not filing those gullets, the teeth will ultimately emerge in subsequent sharpenings. It’s ideal showing the teeth from an imperfect item whatever the tool and in this case I couldn’t have had a better example for restoration of both the saw and the skills and knowledge it takes to restore it.
DSC_0003Topping straightens the line of cut and guarantees the tooth height as the light reflecting on the flat tops of the teeth shows clearly the size of teeth and what corrective filing is necessary. DSC_0035Knowing where to apply pressure comes next. After topping I sized the teeth to make them equal along the length. Tooth shaping follows only after straightening and sizing the teeth. DSC_0033The shape of the teeth is important because this is how we develop a progressive tooth pattern by starting the teeth with a more passive rake and changing the pitch to a more aggressive power cut further along the saw. The works much better than changing the size of the teeth and is much more practical in sharpening. From there we go to sharpening the actual teeth, setting the teeth and then adding a secondary back bevel and side sharpening. After setting we removed the set using two hammers. Simple taps from both sides. This is amazingly accurate and the saw cuts so well after this basic step.
DSC_0145From here I put a masking tape on the side of the plate and use an EZE-Lap diamond file to run across the teeth to side dress the teeth to a perfect width. After that came the back bevel to the back edge of the teeth. This strengthens the cutting edge of each tooth. What a saw!!!


7 thoughts on “A Saw for 200 Years More”

  1. David Devereux

    Absolutely superb to be able to watch you doing this yesterday, Paul. I have tries these things in the past and failed, but will definitely be going down the route of resurrecting old tools now that you have shown how easiy this is – when you know what you are doing!. I was teetering on the verge of going down the more machine route but your course has managed toi pull me back from the brink. An extremely valuable, instructive and enjoyable two days.

    1. David I came across this blog post which relates perfectly to a saw I have inherited. the only confusing point is where the masking tape was placed for the “From here I put a masking tape on the side of the plate and use an EZE-Lap diamond file to run across the teeth to side dress the teeth to a perfect width.” if you remember could you elaborate?

  2. handmadeinwood

    Nicely done. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for some of these old basket-cases!

    One question that I have, how did you manage to drive the old bolts out without stripping the threads?

    I have found that (unless they are hollow bolts), the holes in the plate are a very tight fit indeed.

  3. Steve Massie

    Paul a great resurrection, I love to see old tools brought back to life. I am learning how to sharpen and restore saw’s as we speak and have a few “beater” in – expensive saw’s to start with.

    That looks like a very fine saw and should get another 200 years out of it. Wouldn’t you love to know the history behind that saw ?


  4. Do you think you could maybe do a video on restoring a saw like this sometime? I see some similar steps in the sharpening video, but maybe there is enough difference to warrant a dedicated one on restoration?

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