Timber Framers Guild

antique saws

Posted By: timberwrestler

antique saws - 06/07/13 07:54 PM

I'm interested in trying out some antique saws for timber framing. I use a blend of tools, but for saws I've really only used the Japanese variety for several years. So where do I begin? Ideal lengths, TPI, or brands? I have a particular pet peeve for older chisels that doesn't hold an edge, so the same would apply for saws I imagine. Are there companies or periods where better quality steel was used? I'm not adverse to trying out some of the new saw makers either. I'm looking for saws to handle end cuts (docking?), crosscutting shoulders, and ripping. What are reasonable prices to pay?
Posted By: Roger Nair

Re: antique saws - 06/07/13 09:14 PM

Great topic. American sawmakers of the late 19th century to the 1940's such as Disston, Simonds, Atkins and Bishop are usually a good bet for quality goods. Condition and lack of abuse is key to getting a good user. Avoid sawplates with rust pitting, sharp kinks and nasty teeth. Prices at flea markets will be cheapest, antique malls a little higher, restored saws by tool guys higher still and collectors with restored saws highest. That is a range from $3 to $150 for usable saws. So as the price diminishes your commitment to restoration must increase. Carpenter saws range around 24 to 28 inches and docking saws 30 to 36 inches. Filing is a whole other world of preferences but 4 to 6 tpi for rip, 6 to 8 for crosscut and 2 to 3 for docking. Different tooth profiles and sets for hardwood, softwood, green and dry wood.

Disston saws from different periods and models were tested for steel formulation, it was found that the steel was of a relatively consistent nature. The major differences were in the shape, taper and polish of the various models.

New sawmakers seem to specialize for cabinet makers and well heeled collectors, so I believe you could acquire a chest of vintage saws and maintenance supplies, for the price of a couple of premium saws.
Posted By: Ron Mansour

Re: antique saws - 06/12/13 02:50 PM

Hey TW, how's the new "addition"? Hope all is well.

Ditto everything Roger said. I've used nothing but antique hand saws, I currently have 8 of em, 4 for hardwood, 4/softwood, and am always looking fo more. Most are Disston, love my #7. Don't think I paid more than $25-$30 for any. Naturally, they were pretty beat up, and they do require a lot of work to get them usable again, and to pretty them up some. And the whole education process of sharpening hand saws can be daunting, especially restoring teeth that have been filed by a hack in the past, but there is lots of good, helpful info out there. Pete Taran has a great website that was a big help to me.
Good Luck.

Ron Mansour
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