Last month, I posted a picture of a Disston no. 8 handsaw I found for three dollars. It took me some time to get the saw back in action, not because the work was difficult or time-consuming, but because other projects have been taking up my time.
Disassembling the saw was as easy as removing the nuts and sliding the handle off the saw plate. The finish on the handle was nearly gone, so I sanded it down and applied a few coats of Danish oil. These saws normally came with a film finish on the handles–shellac, I think–but I prefer an oil finish that doesn’t get slippery when my hands begin to sweat.
I cleaned the surface rust off the saw plate. There was no pitting. I decided not to try to restore the mirror-polish that the saw must originally have had.
The teeth were in decent shape, but it still took me a while to sharpen it. It’s a 24″ long saw, and there are 9 points per inch. (That’s nearly 200 teeth on this saw.) To make the sharpening experience more pleasant, I brought the whole outfit outside into the shade of a big tree. I clamped my little saw vise to one end of my sawbench and went to work with the files. (I decided to touch up my big rip saw, too, as it was feeling a little dull. It’s a Disston 12, which is the one in the vise above.)
Taking the saw for a test-drive in some soft pine, it left a pretty smooth surface, and the saw glided through the wood as if it were cutting nothing at all. While the saw plate is bowed just a little along its length, it’s not kinked, and the saw tracks true to a line. Testing a saw in softwood might seem like cheating, but it’s not. For one, I work in softwoods a lot. More importantly, the fibers in softwoods tend to tear and chip out when being sawn, especially across the grain, and that tends to leave a ragged surface. If your tool can cut cleanly across the grain of a pine board, it’s plenty sharp for the work it needs to do, even in hardwoods.
This saw is a keeper, at least for now.