Making a new handle for a dovetail saw

I recently started cutting dovetails and found my 14 inch tenon saw a bit unwieldy for the job. One of the Australian Woodwork Forum members was able to help out with something more suitable that he’d started work on and thought I could finish.

It’s a 10 inch Disston backsaw with fine teeth, but it needed a new handle. The previous owner had started to cut one out of American Oak and sent it along with the blade for me to work on.

The first step for me was to change the design to an open handled one as the closed handle grip wasn’t going to fit my hand. A bit of work with the coping saw and I had the below handle to work with.

I put the z-vice to good use holding it while I took to it with a rasp and sandpaper, until it both looked good and felt good in my hand.

Then comes the hard part – cutting the handle for the blade. I marked it carefully and using its own blade started the cut, then finished this with a tenon saw and a small gents saw.

Because this is a back saw I had to clear a spot for the spine to fit into, so I marked it out and used a narrow mortice chisel to take out some of the wood around the top so it would fit.

Then came careful marking of the holes by laying the blade on top, drilling the holes and then drilling them out with a countersink bit so the screws fit in. It still needs a little more work to seat the screws properly and some more sanding before I finish it, but it’s looking good and fits my hand nicely.

Once done I will mix some stain into some boiled linseed oil and try and match it to my other saws, then give it a good sharpen before putting it to use.

I was quite scared at trying a saw handle as they look quite complicated but I found it was only a few hours work and it was very enjoyable seeing it take shape. Cutting the handle for the blade was the scariest part and it’s not quite perfect on this one, but it isn’t going to effect it in use. I’m going to try another handle soon because I had a lot of fun doing this one.

Restoring an old tenon saw

I picked up a tenon saw the other day, look a few posts back for that story if interested, and today I’m stuck at home while the car’s being serviced so decided to start work on it.

Here it is just after work on cleaning up the blade has begun. I can’t find my drill chuck so did it all by hand for now, once I find it the wire brush will make it a lot faster and a fair bit nicer to look at.

First step was to unscrew the handle and pop it off

If there’s been a lot of the old finish left I would have tried and restored it, instead I sanded it lightly to get rid of all the old stuff, then cleaned up any edges that were badly worn as well. I would normally sand to 1200 grit on handles but I’m out of it so went to 320, and I’m still pleased with the results.

I’d been trying a variety of finishes on my saw handles and right now I’m liking plain old boiled linseed oil. It’s easy to apply, dries quickly, doesn’t make the garage and attached house smell for days, and is easy to reapply whenever the handles start to need it.

Wipe in on, wipe it off, then repeat until you get a bit of a nice shine. Here’s the saw put back together until I find the drill chuck and clean the blade some more, it will get a few more coats of oil once it’s dried. This one will get shapened up and may replace my other tenon, though it’s just been professionally sharpened so not for a while!.

The results of being lazy

I’ve done a lot of tool restorations by now, and a lot of that is restoring handles. I got lazy with the last saw handle I did though and the results show.

What happened was that I decided to brush the stain on and try and sand it at the end, instead of building up thin coats and sanding in between with 1200 grit sandpaper like normal. You can see the results for youself. Instead of a nice smooth coat that looks great, there’s a thick uneven coat that looks terrible. Now I’ll have to sand it right out and start over.

Another saw restore

I borrowed my father’s circular saw to de-rust it for him, and have managed to misplace a washer (or so he says – I am very careful to keep all parts for restorations in one safe location!). He wanted to make a few cuts at home so I suggested he use one of his hand saws instead, only to be told they were in no shape to do it.

I took this as a challenge to fix up a couple of them and so wanted to share the before and in progress pictures with you. The red handled saw has had more time spent on it but they still both need quite a bit more work then a good sharpen to be at their best. I wouldn’t normally bother with restoring plastic handled saws, but these one’s are Dad’s and have been around for as long as I can remember, so they get special treatment.

I used my standard treatment – take them apart, blades into a citric acid bath then sandpaper through the grits to clean them up. I actually stuck a wire brush in the drill for the red one and got good results so will try it on the other as well. You can see an odd bar of darker colour on the black saw blade – just occasionally the citric acid reacts strangely on parts of a tool,  generally where it’s been heat treated differently (like the tip of a plane blade) but I’m curious as to why that would have been done to a saw blade. It should polish out just fine though.


In Progress

Restoring a wooden handled saw

This one is from earlier in the year that I’m quite pleased with but haven’t put on the blog yet. This is a Disston panel saw I got for 50c in what looked like quite bad condition.

I made the mistake of trying some rust converter on it at first and it made it impossible to use the citric acid method I use now on it, so the blade was cleaned up with a lot of hard sanding.

The handle got sanded down to 1200 grit then give a couple of coats of a water based stain and varnish, then the finish rubbed out with the 1200 grit again until it felt nice and worn in. I softened the edges of the handle, it was too square looking to my eye and just didn’t feel right.

The blade was set and sharpened and then waxed and it’s now working nicely.