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Scandinavian Hand Tools with Kim Malmberg


The Resurrection of a Disston D8 Thumbhole Saw by Kim Malmberg

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I've bought a lot
of saws during the last four years or so.




And being a overly optimistic kind of person - at least as far as hand tools are concerned - I tend to bring home saws which can never be salvaged.

This 28 inch Disston D8 thumbhole ripper was cheap enough, but at the time of buying I truly wasn't sure if the saw could ever be brought back to life. The pictures say it very clearly.

When a plate looks like this, it usually means it’s beyond repair. Thick rust covering the whole saw plate and turned dark is a sure sign of trouble.

And a saw plate filed this badly means a lot of work. This image doesn’t show all the faults, but the toothline was curving to the inside, as much as nearly ¾ of an inch in relation to the heel. And it has been filed “The Finnish way™”, meaning that the user had no idea of how to file a saw, which kind of file to use and how to use it.

So why did I rescue this saw? Well, this was only the second Disston D8 thumbhole I had got my hands on, and much to my surprise, the saw plate was still dead straight. That is always a sign of something good. As much as I try to call myself a restorer of saws, I do struggle with getting kinked plates back in shape. So I have learned to leave those alone.

Well, in April 2012 I brought the saw home, cleaned it up and left it hanging on my work in progress corner of the workshop.

This photo was taken in May 2012. The cleaning wasn’t quite sufficient, but at last I had stopped the saw from rusting.

Note the toothline as well as the irregular and ugly shape of the teeth as well as my clumsy finger prints around the top line of the plate.

But already at this point I knew the saw could see action again. The plate has some pockets of pitting and it will always be scarred from the rust, but the high quality steel Disston used in this model is very resilient. The plate is well tensioned and despite the appearance it could become useful again.

The saw stayed in this shape for more than two years before I picked it up again. What had kept me from restoring this saw wasn’t lack of time or inability. It was the fact that I had to remove almost an inch of the spring steel to get the tooth profile back. Those of you who sharpen saws on a regular basis knows that this is not difficult, but a rather boring and tiresome task. So as much as I enjoy restoring saws, this part is the least enjoyable.

Since I prefer not to remove the teeth altogether, my method was the following: First deepen and reshape the teeth to a correct angle, then joint, then deepen the teeth again and joint some more. It took me ten deep jointing sessions to get just about where I wanted. This task had cost me one mill file and three 8 inch Bahco saw files.

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