Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

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Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby ToneWood » Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:30 pm

Picked up 3 vintage wooden handled handsaws in a vinyl saw sleeve at a garage sale recently. As best I can recall, 2 of them are Disston & at least one is made in Canada. One saw tapers much more acutely that the other 2 (like the top one in the image below). I don't need or want them but the owner said they were good ones and I bought them to save them from destruction (he was downsizing). They seem to get reasonable prices on ebay - are they good/collectable/worth keeping? Can they be sharpened? I would think these have been largely superseded by cheap disposable modern jack saws.

They look somewhat similar to these (these are not mine though):
Image
(If not worth saving - I wondered if the blades might make card scrapersr? The blades are thicker than similar modern saws.)
Last edited by ToneWood on Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby TonyH » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:47 pm

Most things are collectable by somebody :wink:. They are worth keeping and can be sharpened. If you don't want them, send them to me and I will send you in exchange some disposable modern saws to cut up for card scrapers !

Incidentally, cutting up modern hard point saws when they are blunt to make card scrapers is a great use. Only the teeth are super hard; the rest of the saw is quite suitable for scrapers, scratch stocks,etc and can be cut and shaped with a good hacksaw and file.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby gavin » Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:13 pm

The quality of the steel in the saw is related to how fancy the handle is. If the handles are good and highly-ornamented, the saws are likely to be better quality.

If you will get a saw vise you can have a go at sharpening them and you'll learn a lot even if the result is shite. Look on line for more instruction and get a triangular file of a size to match your tooth pitch. But since hard point saws are so cheap, you'd only do this if you were quite interested and you MUST have a saw vise to do it in.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby Sprot » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:50 am

They look good. No big pitting and ahndles look ok.

For sharpening - look http://thesawblog.com/. There is a lot of good articles about sharpening and restoring old handsaws.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby Billman » Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:57 am

Disston saws are amongst the best in the world, eagerly sought and collected (especially by US tool collectors and users) - far too good to scrap - they can be sharpened and set (there are still firms who do this, or you can learn to do it yourself). If you do not want them, offer them on ebay - you may be pleasntly surprised what they could fetch....
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:39 pm

Interesting. I might have been interested in sharpening them, if I did not already have a good set of saws which I am happy with. Also, some think I already have a significant "sharpening habit" and hand filing hundreds on tiny teeth might be taking things too far - but, as Gavin says, it would likely be a good learning opportunity. Interesting to read about the saw vice. BTW I have a nice pair of "saw setting pliers", I vaguely recall my father using them many years ago - I think on a large bow saw blade - not really sure now how/when to use them though.

BTW My Disston saws do not have elaborate carving on them, I have seen pictures of those that do and wondered if they were older models. That they might be more expensive models makes sense. BTW what is the purpose of the more tapered saws (like the top one, in the above pic)?

They are taking up scarce space at the moment, so I will probably get rid - let somebody else, perhaps some vintage saw enthusiast/restorer, get some enjoyment out of them.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby Billman » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:49 pm

The tapered saw in the top of the photos is one that has been sharpened many times - it started life like those below...

Ref a saw vice, if you cannot get a cast iron one, then make a wooden one - it was quite common when I was a boy (1950/60's) for carpenters and joiners to make their own wooden saw vice, and to sharpen their own saws. I always used the set before sharpening the teeth, although a saw is often refered to as having been sharpened and set, I prefer to set first. I still do it occasionally, but only now use my 'proper' saws for joinery, using cheap hardpoint ones for rough carpentry...
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby ToneWood » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:17 pm

I tried one of the saws a while back & it didn't bite well, so I immediately switched to my new Spear & Jackson Predator saw. I just had a closer look at the saws and gave them a quick try out: not as blunt as I thought. 2 of the saws are Disston Canada, the other one - which looks older & most in need of sharpening - is by Elsworth, Sheffield & is quite musical if you shake it (i.e. not as stiff/thick as the Disston saws). Judging by what Billman wrote, these have probably been sharpened numerous times as none are a deep as the deepest one shown above. Will try to post an image later.

BTW I was surprised & delighted to find a saw sharpening service about 5 miles away (in the middle of nowhere) & the prices - for sharpening or recut & sharpening - seem pretty reasonable, although more than I paid for the saws and not much less than a new Spear & Jackson Predator saw, per saw! :D
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby anobium » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:28 pm

The charity Tools for Self Reliance would accept them as a donation. They send tools to Tanzania and also sell them in the UK as you may have seen at the AGM.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:21 pm

An interesting option.

Christopher Schwarz saw video: https://www.youtube.com/v/tH5EAakQ0l4?a ... id=ytplaye
Workshop Heaven - saw sharpening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9FC6LnHT7A
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby SeanHellman » Mon Jun 16, 2014 8:00 pm

The top saw in the picture, will be very useful for cutting curves in sheet material or even thicker wood. Because of the thin end the saw can be made to cut curves. Twist the saw at the handle and use only the far end half or third of the saw and hay presto.
As for the modern Diston saws, well I think a firm of mental accountants is now running it. They are now making the most ugly saws in the world. I have a new D8 the handle is huge thick and ugly, it is not functional and is out of proportion to the blade. The steel is probably okay and they print on the makers mark instead of etching or laser cutting it. The old one are superb, the modern ones, well buy English or old second hand.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby jrccaim » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:36 am

(1)
gavin wrote:The quality of the steel in the saw is related to how fancy the handle is. If the handles are good and highly-ornamented, the saws are likely to be better quality.

If you will get a saw vise you can have a go at sharpening them and you'll learn a lot even if the result is shite. Look on line for more instruction and get a triangular file of a size to match your tooth pitch. But since hard point saws are so cheap, you'd only do this if you were quite interested and you MUST have a saw vise to do it in.


If you don't have a saw vise (I don't) you can improvise one by clamping some 6mm thick strap say at least 25 mm wide in a regular vise. Should be long enough to take the entire saw, but if not you can move the saw. Then you can joint it (make all teeth equally long) and sharpen. The technique varies -- if it's a rip it's one thing, crosscut another. Look up saw sharpening on the 'net.

Are these rips or crosscuts? Or both?

ToneWood wrote:I tried one of the saws a while back & it didn't bite well, so I immediately switched to my new Spear & Jackson Predator saw. ...


If (a) you try to rip with a crosscut or (b) you try to crosscut with a rip or (c) the thing isn't sharp it won't bite sure enough. Make sure the saw is sharp before you use it. This is why I use Japanese Ryoba saws. Flip it over to change rip to crosscut.
Modern saws with fancy names, e.g. Predator or Tiger, have induction hardened teeth. They cut like a buzz saw new. But sharpening them is almost impossible; need carbide or diamond tools.

An old Disston saw (say up to about 1975) is worth restoring. It is a sin to make it into a scraper. I make scrapers out of old saws all right, all the time. I am careful to use modern saw blades. Grind off the teeth and you're good to go.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby ToneWood » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:57 am

I came across a wooden saw-vice at a car boot sale recently, priced at £5. It looked quite good except for the woodworm (I didn't buy it). It struck me that I could use a bench-vise - mine has wooden faces - & you could always put a couple of thin planks in to extend its effective length, if necessary, and perhaps use clamps at the ends.
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Re: Vintage Handsaws - Disston USA/Canada?

Postby Stevenz » Tue May 26, 2015 8:48 am

I have 3 disston & sons hand saws.
D8-rip saw
D8-cross cut
12 inch back saw
and a disston & sons saw vice.
they were made pre 1950.
very nice tools to use with an excellent character and patina to boot.
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