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
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
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.