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Restoring Saws, Saw Tools, and Other Equipment

  Making a Saw Handle - a Photo Essay by Charlie Driggs  1 of 7   

Well, things have been so wet here lately that I bagged the idea of mowing the lawn or trimming trees today (despite no rain and sunny skies since sunrise, the lawn still glistens with raindrops this evening). 

Instead, I spent the afternoon in the shop with some 18-20 saws that have been patiently awaiting my attention. I 'd already sharpened a few of them some time ago, but the greater portion had been lying inside a wooden toolbox, out of the light and untouched since I acquired them at various times over the last few years.  The guilt just became overwhelming, and I couldn't shut out their whining little voices anymore.  Today was primarily a blade de-rusting, handle cleanup and determine-what-was-needed-next type of effort.

Sharpening comes later. The group included 4-5 Atkins saws that I hadn't spent any time on to identify, and which provided some pleasant surprises.

First up for your viewing pleasure is the handle off a former Atkins mystery saw.  First impression was that it was in decent shape but needed some TLC.  Cleaning the blade revealed that the etch was worn off or a victim of light rust, or both, and the shallow depth of the blade at first suggested this one had been resharpened many times, although the apple handle was in pretty good shape for such an indication of heavy use. The medallion was clearly an Atkins, however. Then the stamped '9' came up on the heel, and I realized this one hadn't been sharpened often at all.

Drag out "The Handsaw Catalog Collection", and focus on the carving detail in the handle that I knew was a bit special (looks tropical!). Quickly narrow it down to one model because of the skewback blade - a 9 pt crosscut 24" ship carpenter saw.  Might be a little rare, as it was the most expensive model with this particular carved handle.

Atkins 53 ship carpenter's saw handle

This one should sharpen up nicely, although the blade was a bit dark and took some extended elbow grease.  The little Atkins group proved to have a couple more oddities, at least with my limited experience with Atkins saws:

  • one is a 22" No 70 panel saw, with an unusual second etch - "Unous" in large script written above the bordered / boxed name of "HP Davidson Co."  I'm guessing this indicated a saw sold through a hardware store, and while my four years of Latin back in near-prehistoric times is rustier than the worst of these saws, I'm guessing "Unous" signified some form of partnership with Davidson even though this spelling doesn't fit the declensions I barely remember.

  • another 20" panel saw that has a partially salvaged etch reading "EC Atkins & Co.", then below that is perhaps "Buckeye" above the model number -- and the model number was of course perfectly targeted by a small blotch of rust. Definitely 7x, with my best guess of the x digit being a 3. But the available catalog shows only the model 71 straight bladed saw being a match for the handle, yet this is a skewback blade as offered as the 70 but with a different handle (matching the handle of the No 70 described previously).  Off to the right of the normal etch is a secondary etch again, partially complete, showing the word "Phenix" (interesting spelling).  Any Atkins experts out there (Erv, are you online?) that can confirm whether Atkins changed handle styles on their 71 over time, whether what certainly reads as "Buck+something 3-4 letters" could actually be "Bucking", or whether this is a model that appears only earlier or later than the 1919 Atkins catalog?

  • Next up is a KeenKutter No 88 acquired from a fellow Galoot a few years back.  That one had been sharpened and usable, but I decided to clean up the blade some more after first disassembling it, at which point I noticed that three of the four sawscrews (not the medallion) seemed to be on backwards.  Disassembly proved me wrong, I think.  I don't believe this saw has ever been apart before, and the clearance holes for the saw nuts are in the opposite side of the handle from what is normal for nearly every other saw in good condition that I've ever examined closely.

KeenKutter No 88

As I've only ever seen a few examples of KeenKutter saws and never noticed this detail, and this is the only one I've taken apart, is this 'normal' for KeenKutter?

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