Disston Saws

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Saw Vises


Restoring Saws, Saw Tools, and Other Equipment

  Restoring a Handsaw by Frank Brickhouse 1 of 6  

Cleaning the blade

The first thing to remember before destroying a good blade and etch is to read the blade and determine how much cleaning is necessary and what can be used for cleaning. 

Understanding how steel reacts if exposed to elements like humidity, heat, cold, dry air, substances in the wood, and chemicals used in the shop is a key to choices you will have to make in selecting restoration method and materials.  The first thing that happens to a steel saw blade is the formation of rust, then saps and oils build over the rust.  You will notice in the picture below that the saw blade looks like all it needs is a good cleaning with steel wool and oil.

Right side before cleaning.  Appears to be rust free.  This condition of the blade is often described as "...rust free with nice patina".  It is my opinion that many restorers mistake discoloration on steel for patina.  Usually this discoloration is mostly rust.

I prefer to use a random orbit sander to clean steel.  You have to clean to the original surface or the rust will raise it's ugly head again and again.  Those raised areas you see on some saw blades is a formation of rust and when removed, most of the time there is a pitted area below the blade surface.  I use the 3M Scotch Bright wool/finishing pad to clean the teeth area.

My opinion is that steel wool and oil will destroy an etch.  Why?  Steel wool does not stay in a plane of the blade and will drop down into the etch and will remove the dark area from the etching.   A good etching and stamping like most of the older saws have can be cleaned with a random orbit sander because it stays on a blade plane and glides over the etch.

Materials and tools used

I use a Ryobi random orbit sander w/ variable speed control.  For abrasive I use 4 extra fine 220 grit sanding disc/hook and loop backed.  Final polishing of the blade is done with 3M Scotch Bright wool/finishing pad and 3M 400 wet/dry.

Cleaned left side with etching.

Etching after cleaning...

...and again, etching after cleaning. 

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Simonds Saws

Atkins Backsaws


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