A 6-dollar flea market beater?
Yes, but this one is a Disston
Acme 120, originally a cabinetmakerís finish saw tapered and
hardened to run without set, and one of Disstonís finest. You
can't buy a new hand saw today of anywhere near this quality at
any price. So letís see if it can be given another lifetime of
use in a slightly different form.
Old saws filed so many times their tips resemble pencil-points
usually arenít worth the trouble, as when they get that thin and
narrow they are too easily kinked, and this oneís no exception.
Restoring this in its original 26-inch length isnít a good
option for it to survive another generation of use. So
Iíll shorten it to panel saw length to make it useful again, but
thatís not as straightforward as it seems if the saw is to
please the eye and hand.
Panel saws had smaller handles
than their full-sized counterparts, and their blades were
uniformly contoured to match their smaller proportions; they
werenít just stubby versions of full-sized saws.
I donít have a small #120 handle, but I do have an extra Keen
Kutter panel saw handle and another complete matching saw to use
as a pattern. These Keen Kutter #88 skewback saws were
made by Disston using #16 handles and probably P26 blades from
the Harvey Peace factory they bought out, for which Disston
offered custom etching in hardware store logos like EC Simmons.
Mr. Simmons knew his saws. These are not only excellent,
taper ground saws, their profile pleases my eye. I scribe
the new profile onto the #120 blade, and use the bevel gage to
duplicate the tip angle. Iíll make the #120 a 22-inch saw
based on the amount of blade remaining.
Saw steel grinds quickly and relatively cool using a coarse, 8Ē
wheel, with the occasional water dip as the wheel gets close
enough to burn what will be the final profile. Here I donít just
grind up to the scribed line, I take the line.
I fair the curves by drawfiling using 2d-cut and smoother
1st-cut single-cut files. This is done largely by feel.
When I feel a bump I alter the file angle for a more aggressive
cut, and finish using my finest single-cut file straight across.
The files are chalked and frequently brushed both to keep them
from clogging and to prevent stray filings from causing
scratches during finishing. I rarely use chalk when
jointing and sharpening however, as it often masks what Iím
trying to see.
After failing I ease the sharp edges slightly using the fine
file in the drawfile mode.