A lost and lone tenon saw offered for under a tenner as an eBay buy-it-now seemed somehow destined for a no-zone life on a shelf somewhere and I bought it because it seemed to be so. The saw is a bit like some people I meet from time to time – somewhat jaded, slightly pitted, a little down at heel and with some parts broken, cracked and weak. Somehow I knew I couldn’t just leave it there in that condition. If the plate was absolutely done for, the handle and the split nuts could recycled in the life of one of my other saws.
There is nothing worse than coming across someone that feels like they are just useless when you know that they are not but nothing you say will change their opinion. Hopelessness is exactly what it seems, hopeless. I looked at this saw and I looked beyond its appearance into what I saw as potential. A broken plate is never really a very good sign, but I knew that in ten minutes and little remedial sawing I could extend the life of this saw by reducing its length from 14″ to somewhere around 12″ and that is exactly what I did. Do I have better things to do with my time. I suppose I should say yes I do, but, well, no, not really. Here is a saw that looks to be about 200 years old. For £12 including shipping it could be used for another 200 years. Not when it comes to old saws anyway. It will take me an hour to fix it, I thought. Currently I have 30 minutes in it. Restoring the teeth will take me 20 more and then all I need is to set it. As I said, about an hour.
Anyway, needless to say I bought it and today, in spare minutes I had in the class I was teaching, I did some immediate remedial surgery starting first with a little amputation.
First off I needed to separate the handle from the metal. The screws came out fine and kept the thread in good shape. Sometimes the snap or the thread comes away in the nut part. I filed out the centre section of a flat head screw driver some years ago and that works fine for all the saws I have fixed up that have split nuts.
The steel was hard, hard, hard. I think someone used the heel of this plate to open a paint can or some such brutal task. The teeth are so rounded it took 20 strokes to go 1.5mm deep in pine; that’s about 1/16” in old money, and that was with John riding on the brass back like a rodeo rider in Bandera, Texas. I often ask my self what kind of brutes could use a saw to this degree without thinking something is wrong here.I tried sawing the plate but in the end it wouldn’t cut too well with a hacksaw and so I decided snapping was best. With the plate so sandwiched between to square sections of oak and held tightly in the vise, I snapped off the damaged part with the nylon Thorex hammer. The pat snapped quite cleanly and a flat file levelled all unevenness in a few file strokes.
The brass back on the other hand cut quickly with the junior hacksaw working from each side of the plate. A couple of extra snap-cuts gave the 30-degree angled cuts at the top corner, inside the handle, and also at the heel corner. The handle fit right back on perfectly. all that was left was drilling out the holes for the bolts.