Monday, September 23, 2019

Unusual Etches on Disston Backsaws

Ever see a saw etch that was turned 90 degrees from normal? I've recently restored a Disston No. 7 backsaw that has one. In trying to discover why, the saw owner and I have discovered a few more examples of these oddly etched backsaws. We've written up our observations in a short article you can read here.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Saw

I bought me a saw at the second hand store
It cost me two bucks; wouldn’t pay no more

The handle is weathered and the horns are busted
The blade ain’t straight and it’s pretty well rusted

There’s a disk on the handle with a little brass seagull
Oops! My bad, it looks more like an eagle

The teeth are dull; some are big and some small
From their looks they were set with a splitting maul

There’s a thing near the end that a feller called a nib
He could be right, or he coulda told a fib

Don’t worry if you’re thinking that my saw sounds inferior
The storekeeper told me that it’s warranted superior

                                                       - Bob Summerfield

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Vernon & Co. Handsaw

Most American sawmakers sold their saws under a variety of brand names. Wheeler, Madden & Clemson was no exception. Their 1871 catalog lists saws branded You Bet, Vernon & Co., Speir & Co., and L. Wheeler in addition to their main Wheeler, Madden & Clemson line. I acquired a Vernon & Co. No. 10 saw plate several months back that had no handle. The picture of this saw in the catalog shows it to have a steel side plate on the handle.

I'm not a huge fan of steel side plates, and since this is not a valuable collector saw, I decided to make a new handle more to my liking. I used some of the figured Norway maple that was cut on my sawmill, and I enhanced the grain with amber dye. The results are pretty stunning.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The French Mitre Saw -- Scie à Recaler

A friend recently sent me an antique French mitre saw, or scie à recaler, for restoration. His saw had been around the block a few times and rightly had the true appearance of an antique. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to make one. I ended up making three, and two of them are now listed for sale on my Saws for Sale page.

When it comes to woodworking, the French have traditionally done things a bit different than their British or American counterparts. The use of frame saws instead of handsaws is one example. When it comes to cutting miters, instead of a miter saw and miter box they adopted the scie à recaler and the boite à recaler, literally the saw to recalibrate and box to recalibrate. In that sense, recalibrate relates to sawing the desired angle. We call the boite à recaler a miter jack. This type of saw can also be used to make 90 degree cuts in a device known as a flat jack. In the drawing below, the flat jack is above and the miter jack is below. Both are called boites à recaler.

The pictures below are of the three scies à recaler I made. Two are 20" in length and one is 18". I'm not aware of anyone else in the world currently making this type of saw, so a new one is probably a pretty rare thing. Antique ones are not very plentiful either.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

New Handle for an Old Saw

This Henry Disston saw plate with an inchworm name stamp and the initials H.D. (for Henry Disston) stamped on the heel needed a new handle. I figure the saw dates to the early 1850s and was probably made by old Henry himself. I made the new handle out of figured Norway maple that I cut on my sawmill three years ago. I think Henry would approve of how it turned out.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Fall Reflections

On this Saturday after Thanksgiving, I’m sitting by a warm fire reflecting on the year that is quickly drawing to a close. With five inches of fresh snow on the ground, all is quiet except for the dripping of melting snow from the roofline and the crackling of the stove. It is a good time for thinking about the past, and the future.

This has been another busy year. Once again, I spent a total of 76 days away from home this year fighting wildland fires in five different states. That didn’t leave much of a summer for anything else. I’m getting too old to keep that up. Maybe one more year and then I’ll quit. It seems like I’ve been saying that for a few years now.

After returning from my last fire near the end of September, I had to quickly try to accomplish all the household chores I didn’t get done during the summer. Finally, in late October, I was able to get back into the shop and begin working on saws again. In the past month I’ve completed four saw restorations, finished building a couple of saws that I’d started months ago, and sharpened a few saws for outside clients. Things are in full swing now. I have several more saws to restore this winter, and I’d like to make a few more new saws as well. That will be in addition to all the other things that must get done, like the furniture restoration and picture framing projects for the wife. The work never stops. But that’s the way I like it, spending my time productively.

I’ve listed a few more saws on my “For Sale” page. Be sure to check them out. The matched set of brass back sash and dovetail saws is particularly nice. Here is a picture.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

When a Plane is a Saw

This is a kerfing plane. I made it mostly for the fun of making it. What is a kerfing plane? Well, it's not really a plane at all. It's a special type of saw. The purpose of this tool is to create a saw kerf around the perimeter of a board that serves as a guide for resawing the board with a rip handsaw or frame saw. Kerfing planes are kind of the trendy thing with the unplugged woodworking crowd these days. Though this one functions just fine, I doubt I'll use it very often. Resawing on the bandsaw is much easier.

One of the things I like about making saws is being able to express myself artistically. Owning a tool is great. Owning a tool that is also a piece of art is even better. This is the only kerfing plane like this in the world. I call it The Black Swan. I hope you like it. If you want to read about how I made it, you can do that here.