Restoring a Vintage Saw Part 1: Assessing the Damage
Now that I have been at Popular Woodworking for a while, and finally settling into my new home (apartment), it’s time to do some actual woodworking. While it’s true that I have a laundry list of furniture that I want to build (or my better half wants built), I think I will wait a bit longer to get started on that list.
Instead, I decided I would restore an old handsaw that belonged to my late grandfather. (After all, I will need some tools to put in my Dutch tool chest after I build it.) It’s a Disston crosscut saw that he used for more than 30 years, until my dad inherited it and gave it to me.
I took the saw apart to see what I was dealing with. Its condition is…not great. The tote has been painted. Judging by the color and knowing my grandpa, it probably used to be University of Kentucky blue. I would just refinish it, but I quickly found that duct tape was the only thing holding it together. I would expect nothing else from my grandpa, he was the type to put a band-aid on a head wound and get right back to work.
The blade is rusted, but not rusted through. The teeth need to be sharpened, and the blade also needs to be straightened. I am about to get a crash course in saw restoration.
I’m going to start with the tote. It’s too far gone for repair and, honestly, I’m OK with that because it’s terribly uncomfortable. So I will make a new tote. The tote is small enough that I can make it from a piece of scrap in the shop.
I will use the old tote for a rough idea of what my new tote will look like. Then I will use a rasp and file to mold it into a shape that feels comfortable in my hand.
Luckily, I am surrounded by a wealth of resources on the subject (not to mention the knowledge of the woodworkers that I share an office with). I would also welcome any reader’s tips along the way.
Cover me…I’m going in.
Are you restoring a vintage tool for the first time (or do you just want to brush up on your skills)? Check out “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools” by Michael Dunbar to learn how to update quality tools for a fraction of the price of brand-new tools.