Disston panel saws

I snapped up three rusty panel saws on the cheap.  The skew-backed profile of the saw plates caught my eye and when I looked closer at the medallions they looked like older Disston saws even though one medallion in particular was obscured by buildup and totally illegible.  One of the saw plates had some black paint covering it so I couldn’t tell how far gone the steel would be from rusting but I decided to take a chance and buy all three since they were only a few bucks apiece.  I used some citrus-based stripping gel on the painted saw plate as well as the handle (someone had made a horrible attempt at staining it).  I unscrewed the brass fasteners and removed the handles.  After soaking the brass pieces in some warm, soapy water for a bit, I inserted them into my drill chuck one at a time and polished with some polishing cloth.  The emblem on one medallion indicated a saw made between 1896-1917 and the other indicated a saw made between 1917-1940.  I used the extensive resources available at the Disstonian Institute to date the saws.  The third saw with the paint on the plate and poor finish on the handle was not in fact a true Disston saw but an inferior quality saw made by the Disston company and sold under the Warranteed Superior brand.  This saw is still pretty old, probably dating back to the 1920-1940s but it’s definitely made with a lower quality steel plate and the handle seems to be made out of some sort of softwood lumber with less elaborate detail work and one less screw to secure the plate to the handle.  In spite of all this, it’s still of a much better quality than anything I could buy new for the same price.  I went ahead and removed the rust from the saw plates to reveal some minor pitting but nothing that would compromise the ability to cut safely.  I sanded the handles smooth and decided not to fix any of the chipped horns or fill in any of the nicks or gouges because again, I thought none of that would affect cutting ability.  After I applied a coat of finish and left it to dry overnight, I fitted the handles back onto the plates with the polished brass hardware and Voilà!

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I wasn’t even thinking about it when I purchased the saws, but the three saws together offer a nice range of different cutting possibilities depending on how I file and set the teeth.  One saw has 5 TPI, one has 6 TPI and the junkiest saw of the lot has 8 TPI.

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I’ll probably file the two nicer Disston saws as rip saws, with the 5 TPI plate filed for softwoods and giving the 6 TPI plate a little bit more of a rake angle for hardwoods.  The 8 TPI Warranteed saw already appears to have a little fleam on it so I’ll just keep that as an all-purpose saw for rough-cutting dimensional lumber and jobs of that nature.  The fleam does make the teeth a little more brittle, and that is somewhat of a concern with cheaper steel and smaller teeth so I’ll have to be mindful of knots and so forth.  The only remaining step is getting my saw set and files to bring them back into complete working order…

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