I Bought This Saw

It looked rugged on the site, hence a cheaper price for so classic a saw made by wonderful maker. Half the plate has now gone through sharpening but there is still another 50 good years of dovetailing service in it I think. It will see me out.

Anyway, I set to to sharpen the teeth and set them too. It came out fine although I think the teeth to be quite big for fine work. I will likely file them all off at some point and recut them. I removed the handle which was loose and found rust inside the enclosure of the handle which cause it to wobble and just enough flex like that will restrict your accuracy. I suspect this happened after the old woodworker passed as it is most likely that this has seen three or more users throughout its lifetime. There are three names on the handle, with my own yet to come, so as many owners did not stamp their names, it could well be more.

Firstly I planed of the damaged horn with a bench plane. to get a true a flat is essential.

I found an offcut of beech to match the beech wood handle.

I have used superglue to glue such parts together with great success as you get no slippage and the superglue holds up long term just fine. There really is very little pressure. Mostly the damage is caused by the saw falling onto a hard floor – concrete being especially bad. Best to put rubber matting down.

An accelerator speeds up the set time to near instancy and you can work the shaping immediately with no down time.

I cut the bulk of the side waste off with a tenon saw.

Then I cut the waste from the curved top using a coping saw and following the existing handle, just leaving enough on to level and shape with a rasp.

I planed the side down to flush…

…and again used the coping saw to remove the waste to the hand enclosure.

The fine rasp made short work of the coved work.

Pencilling in the cut lines helps to make sure you don’t take too much off and that you work to definitive lines.

I used a Shinto saw shaping tool to remove most of the waste.

A card scraper is perfect for perfecting the shape at minutely close levels.

And so too the bevel down chisel to cove the meeting lines inside the coves of the handle.

Sanding softens the lines and makes for comfort.

Now it looks good…

…feels fit for my hand…

…and matches my other Groves 10″ dovetail saws.

Adding a little leather dye in shellac tones down the contrast.

Some wax polish is all I need now to soften the feel to my hand.

With a few years of work it will all blend in to disappear.

I did all of this Saturday morning, amongst a dozen other things, while Jack restored his first #4 bench plane.


  1. Mircea on 7 July 2019 at 12:17 pm


  2. Robert J Amsbury on 7 July 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Repairing the horn looks straightforward when you do it step by step. Your skill makes it look easy too, which I’m sure it’s not, but it inspires me to have a go.

  3. Godfrey Millinson on 7 July 2019 at 12:32 pm

    As usual brilliant! Great to be able to continue with the old handle and the history it carries !

  4. Paul Masseth on 7 July 2019 at 12:47 pm

    It looks to be a fine saw, your repair is well fitted. [no surprise there!] I haven’t had much success at having winning bids on ebay, perhaps, in part, that is because I haven’t learned what various tools are worth in today’s market! That causes me to be a bit more reserve on my bids! I’ll keep trying, I am sure over time I’ll begin too have a better idea of the ranges of prices for various tools.
    This past week I had a relative give me a draw knife, it only has the name…
    “Fulton” stamped on it. Does that name mean anything too you? Also, can you
    pass along the best sharpening procedure for this tool. Thank you for sharing your vast woodworking knowledge.

    • Holland on 7 July 2019 at 2:36 pm

      Fulton was a brand sold by Sears in the USA well before the Craftsman brand was introduced. Since Sears never manufactured anything, but contracted with tool companies like Stanley, Sargent, Millers Falls, etc. to produce the tools that they sold. They used their own inventory codes on most of these tools, at least later on. I collect handtools & I have found these Sears tools quite a bargain on eBay.

    • Paul Sellers on 7 July 2019 at 5:23 pm

      My system is simple enough. What am I willing to go to. Not based on market values but my willingness to pay what. Then I use a sniper bid.

      • Alex on 8 July 2019 at 2:28 pm


  5. Eiffel on 7 July 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Great repair!
    I’m curious to hear your view on the Shinto saw shaping tool which seems to be a low cost alternative to a good rasp

  6. Gary on 7 July 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

    Did you mean “quite big for fine work” in the second paragraph? I’ll admit to pondering over “quite bug fir fine work” for a bit to (hopefully) figure it out. 🙂

    • Paul Sellers on 7 July 2019 at 5:19 pm

      Fixed. I often fix things before posting but some times it just doesn’t seem to carry through. That’s when the grammar police jump in.

  7. Steve D on 7 July 2019 at 3:16 pm


    The price of broken saw handles just tripled.

  8. David on 7 July 2019 at 10:43 pm

    These type of posts are much better than the touchy-feely tree-hugging stuff you sometimes write. Fixing a saw handle horn is something we all have to do from time-to-time.

    Thanks for a great post.

    • Peter Oster on 8 July 2019 at 12:15 am

      I find the touchy, feely stuff some of the best posts. It’s nice to see the qualities of the man that is teaching you.
      I have had teachers teach the only/best way such as dovetails. But you knew if the next fad of doing dovetails changed they would jump to it to increase their income.
      Maybe Paul’s persona is a fraud, but I don’t think so. I suspect he has gone through personal upheavals and come down on the side of integrity as life commitment.

      • David on 8 July 2019 at 3:03 am

        When it comes to qualities, having the skill to repair a saw handle, and then to teach that skill to thousands of people impresses me far more than pontificating about flowers and such. Even so, to each their own. No one will begrudge your enjoyment of Paul’s ethereal musings. I find them a bore, myself. I’d much rather read about saw handle repairs.

        • Peter Baillie on 8 July 2019 at 12:27 pm

          I think a lot of posters here find your ethereal whining a bore, David. I’m glad you have an avatar… Makes it easy to scroll straight past your pointless dribble.

          • David on 8 July 2019 at 12:50 pm

            Yet you didn’t. Odd, that.

          • Peter Baillie on 12 July 2019 at 1:28 am

            Very odd, peculiar even. Like a successful fisherman.

    • Jason M. on 8 July 2019 at 9:16 pm

      It’s Paul’s blog. He can post whatever content he wants. You’re not paying to be able to read it and you have actually learned from it, so let the man write in peace without getting disrespectful comments towards him.

  9. Richard D Hoffman on 7 July 2019 at 11:27 pm

    I wish I could find such treasures as a Groves dovetail saw here in the states, in any condition.

    • David on 8 July 2019 at 3:05 am

      Join the Midwest Tool Collectors Association. You won’t have trouble finding anything you want among its vast membership.

  10. Paul P on 8 July 2019 at 9:23 am

    There is definately a “paul sellers” effect now apparent on the internet – any mention of a brand immiediately shoots the price up on the auction sites. Similar to the effect Delia Smith had in her cooking programmes in the UK back in the 90s.

    There is a mild irony (and I mean this with no disrespect), that in that Paul’s noble attempt at bringing hand tool woodworking to the masses is starting to have, to some extent, the opposite affect. As stated on these very blog pages, 15 years ago you could pretty much pick good quality hand-tools up for next to nothing whereas now the demand (due to Paul’s tutorship) has exceeded supply and pushed prices up. Don’t misinterpret me – Paul’s blog, videos and book have been of immense use to me as a complete novice, but perhaps its time to review the policy on focussing on products, and keep the discussions primarily about techniques?

    • Paul Sellers on 8 July 2019 at 10:06 am

      I doubt that I have too much influence on prices all round. I’ve said that Lie Nielsen and veritas planes are well made and well worth the money and their prices have remained the same. Stanley and Record tools are still good value for money and ÂŁ40 to ÂŁ120 according to scarcity for a saw of a particular kind is simply good value at a fairly low price. For instance the modern Spear and Jackson handsaws and tenon saws at 1/6th the cost of say a Lie Nielsen or a premium Thomas Flinn makes them stable and good value. had I not spoken out about these saws or planes people would not know that they equal the premium tools in many cases. I do find it quite troubling when commenters seem to want to control me and my output because fairness really matters to me. My recent blog on the router planes by Tyzack and Preston was top address any possibility that people might feel they are better than the Record, Lie Nielsen, Stanley and Veritas.

    • Trinity Too on 8 July 2019 at 2:17 pm

      Also if an expert user like Paul doesn’t tell us about these tools and how they are used, how do we find out about them? Yes, I have (just) bought Paul’s book on essential hand tools, but there will always be other tools that aren’t covered and need being brought to attention, or tools that need more explanation/photographs/videos. So thank you, Paul.

  11. Kurt Goodwin on 8 July 2019 at 10:58 am

    Fascinating and timely. I have an old bench plane with corner gone from the handle. I had been foolishly contemplating making a new handle, much prefer this approach

    The step by step photos and comments are very helpful! Thatnks

  12. RODNEY MAGEE on 8 July 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Another informative blog Paul, thank you! I wouldn’t have thought about using “super glue” instead of a regular wood glue, the faster drying time let’s you keep on fixing the handle instead of stopping and having to wait a good idea. I haven’t found any used back saws in my area but have found panel saws and have bought a couple. I hope to have my shop together by the end of the year and will be using your teaching to help me refurbish them.

  13. Lewis Ward on 8 July 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Loves blog Paul. You inspire myself and others to do woodworking and tool repair the smart and often efficient way working with hand tools.

  14. Yohann on 8 July 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Hey Paul,

    Thanks for posting this. I have an old Disston tenon saw that needs some repairs to the handle and your tutorial here makes the required steps so much clearer than what I was imagining I’d have to do.

    I do have a question for you and any of your readers who have restored saws: Is there some trick to removing the medallion? The two regular nuts unscrew easily, but the medallion seems to resist all my attempts to unscrew it. I have not tried to force it for fear of damaging the medallion or the handle, but there’s got to be a way to remove it. I wonder if it’s just corroded in place.

    • Paul Sellers on 8 July 2019 at 4:25 pm

      No trick. Sometimes one screw gets locked and cannot be unscrewed.

  15. Mike O'Neil on 8 July 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Thank you for the close up photos. The pictures are indeed worth a thousand words.

  16. Steve P on 8 July 2019 at 3:26 pm

    I’m kind of torn on this. I have a couple old saw with some chipped handles like this, as well as a wooden plow plane. I can see wanting to repair the chip, but in a way, I have left them for now because I also like the character that these battle wounds add to their look and feel. Its also nice to see actual wood underneath when something breaks as opposed to the new furniture for sale now. So I think I will keep this skill for when the break is bad enough to make a handle uncomfortable to use, but leave the characterized handles as is for now.

  17. Joseph Zona on 8 July 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Paul, you are the man that I wish I was. Nice work as always.

  18. Jeff Murray on 8 July 2019 at 5:18 pm

    I notice that you didn’t use the Shinto for this restoration.

    • Paul Sellers on 8 July 2019 at 8:49 pm

      I did, both the Shinto and the rasp from Logier.

  19. Jhon Z Baker on 9 July 2019 at 1:24 am

    Very nice, Paul! I would expect nothing less though- This makes me want to get out to the shop and fix the tote on my old old #6 – a similar large chip out of that one as out of your saw. I prefer to fix things that show with contrasting colors though – like a slice of Paduk fitted in to a chip out the corner of a chopping board made of maple and walnut or bad damage to the soundboard of a spruce top guitar with red cedar slivers and cherry red lacquer – you get the picture. I don’t disguise damage but highlight it as that is where so much beauty comes from! I do like a good vanishing trick though!

  20. Robert Brunston on 9 July 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Another bit of gold from Paul! Thank you.

  21. John Cadd on 12 July 2019 at 4:36 pm

    I had plenty of practice doing this when I bought some old chisels. Wooden handles with no ferrules that had been abused with a steel hammer.

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