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Woodworking with Will Myers


 
 

Handsaw Re-work

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My favorite hand saws are the older ones, particularly the ones made later in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

In my opinion this was the golden age of the handsaw. The blades were taper ground of good quality steel, the totes were shapely, looked nice, and were actually made to fit a human hand. There are still plenty of these saws around but are getting more expensive and a bit more scarce.

The saws made after these in the later 1900ís turn up quite often and are usually cheap. Most of these have good quality blades but the totes look and fit you hand terrible. I usually pass these saws up because totes will almost give you a blister just looking at them.

This particular saw was in a box of saws I purchased at an auction last year. It is a Keystone K-4 Air Master crosscut, a cheaper line of saws made by Disston in the 1930s & 40s. The saw plate was in pretty good shape and dead straight, with one of the clunky cheaper model totes. With a little work I thought the saw had potential to make a good one.

I started by going over the flat sides of the tote with a smoothing plane to remove the remaining finish and smooth it up.

When reshaping a tote it is nice if you have a saw with a tote that is comfortable to you to get an idea where you want to go. My favorite rip saw is at late 1870ís Disston No. 7, the tote fits my hand perfectly (this particular saw had a cozy little log cabin scene painted on the blade when I found it!).

By eye I laid out on the tote the areas to be reshaped using the tote on the No. 7 as a guide. If you do not have one to use as pattern start by gripping the tote and identifying the areas that are uncomfortable to your hand and gradually remove them until it feels comfortable.


 
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