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Thread: Help me make sense of this saw

  1. #1

    Help me make sense of this saw

    I was at an antique mall yesterday and one of the vendors had a booth full of old tools and everything he had was severely discounted so I got some good deals. I bought a Starrett combination square, Disston D-8 in beautiful shape... and this thing:



    I'm very new to the hobby, but at first glance it appears to be a Disston dovetail saw that's about 60-90 years old (correct me if I'm wrong).



    However there are some things which definitely are wrong... almost all of them are in the handle (the blade seems to be in great shape and totally undamaged). You notice that the medallion is covered in red paint. It was completely covered, but I was able to rub some of it off with some acetone and a cotton swab. I rubbed off enough to see that it reads "Warranted Superior" and not "Disston" like it should. I know W.S. was a later and cheaper brand designation made by Disston. This would leave me to believe that this is not the original medallion, since the back of the saw still reads Disston.



    The other issue is the handle itself seems to be totally wrong. It's in the approximate shape but it looks and feels really inferior. If you look at it from above it doesn't seem to fit the saw. Also it's very flat with almost no rounding anywhere. It looks like someone cut it out of a flat board and didn't possess the proper tools to smooth out the edges. Additionally, the brass screws and medallion stick right up on the top of the surface, as if they hadn't be countersunk. That's not normal is it?



    If I were to guess I would say that someone had a Disston saw with a broken or missing handle, and then attempted to make their own own handle (poorly) and attach it to the saw. They probably lost the medallion (maybe the screw as well) and used one from another saw. I have no idea why it was covered in paint, maybe they tried to sell it as a complete Disston and wanted to hide the fact that it wasn't hoping nobody would notice. Also I suppose they could have just put a Disston saw on a Warranted Superior handle, but the handle still looks too poor quality for that.

    Luckily it was cheap and the saw looks perfectly usable. What do you think I should do with it? I want to make it beautiful and functional again and add it to my toolbox.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    That is NOT the original handle. You're right that someone hacked out a handle quickly. There are handle patterns around; someone should be along in a minute to talk more about that (I've been lucky enough to find some of these saws with the original handles, so have not yet had to make one). You can go really really crazy with this, or you can make a graceful, attractive, yet simple handle.

    Or, you can take a rasp, or, lacking that, sandpaper on a dowel and freehand, and somewhat improve the one you've got. The fact that it's skewed means you'll be trying to improve something that should be tossed; much depends on how much time you've got in the shop.

    Don't worry about the medallion. It works just as well as a Disston medallion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    PA
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    I think the paint is probably because the medallion came off of a saw that had the handle painted red for one reason or another (recognition or posession).

    I think you're pretty well on the mark. If those saw nuts aren't stripped, I would just make a new handle for it. Use walnut if you only have flatsawn wood, or a quarter/rift(if near quarted) sawn fruitwood. That's a saw that doesn't have huge cheeks, so your chances of making a decent functional handle are pretty good.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
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    171
    If that's a 10-inch saw, here's a link that might help you identify the saw and offer some guidance for making a replacement handle:
    http://home.grics.net/~weir/disston_10in.html
    I have a similar saw I bought at a garage sale several years ago.

  5. #5
    I have some walnut. I'm gonna try to make a handle out of that.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Amherst, NH
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    204
    Joel has a template for a dovetail saw handle (different style than yours) with his grammercy dovetail saw kit available here http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/p...KITXX_INST.pdf. Might help.

    Nelson

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Longview WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson Howe View Post
    Joel has a template for a dovetail saw handle (different style than yours) with his grammercy dovetail saw kit available here http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/p...KITXX_INST.pdf. Might help.

    Nelson
    This is the design used for my first saw handle. My first step was to make the handle out of a scrap of cheap pine. This helped me determine the hang angle and the sizing before making it from a piece of apple.

    The write up on the handle build might help you with some ideas:

    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...Back-Saw-Build

    As for the saw, it looks to be made up of a hasty marriage. The plate looks good but it needs a divorce from the handle.

    You can always find better saw nuts and a medallion later. Maybe on a yard sale saw that costs less than it would to ship the nuts.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 02-06-2013 at 1:04 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #8
    I actually made a handle out of walnut last night. Looks much better and feels great in my hand. However, I now need to drill the holes for the nuts and medallion. I'm sure I need some kind of spade bit to do this? What diameters do I need?

    Edit: Also, is the back of saw supposed to be be taller than the front like that? Maybe the back slipped up a bit? I don't have it in front of me to check.
    Last edited by Jared Walters; 02-06-2013 at 1:24 PM.

  9. #9
    I'm all done with it. I thought I would post the picture.



    Wasn't easy since I was very limited on my tools. But I got it done and I'm very happy with the result.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Dickinson, Texas
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    You should be happy with it.

    It sure cleaned up nicely.

  11. #11
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    Aug 2008
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    Chicago-ish
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    Wow! Very nice.
    clamp the work
    to relax the mind


    Woodworking is 3% talent and 97% not paying attention to the internet.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
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    Great looking saw.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    3,641
    Very nice work Jared. You sure got that ting clean. Lovely!
    Woodworking is terrific for keeping in shape, but it's also a deadly serious killing system...

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