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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Central Coast, NSW
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    3,019

    Default Questions about back saws (and drawknife)

    Hi. I went to the flea market today to see if I could find a good old back saw suitable for rehabilitation. There really wasnt much, but I did see one old dovetail saw that looked promising. It had an elegantly shaped handle - reminiscent of the Lie-Nielsen one, a stiff and heavy steel back, teeth very warn out, some rust pitting, and some light surface rust. I didnt buy it because when you looked along the cutting edge there was a wavyness - say 3 curves in total for of 1-2mm deflection each side. The bending seemed to be limited to the cutting edge and nearby, I suppose the stiff back kept most of the blade safe. My main questions is - is this reparable, or is the case that once bent they can never be straightened properly ?

    I also wonder about the following:
    1. the handle, although nicely shaped, was beech. This suggests to me a tool of cheaper manufacture. Is this so ?
    2. what about the steel back. Although straight and heavy, I assume that brass was used on the high quality tools. Is this so ?
    3. and the rust pitting. There were about 6 smallish patches of pitting on the blade. What effect does this have ?
    4. the tooth size was about 16-18 tpi. Am I going to have any trouble getting a tool like this sharpened ? How much does it usually cost ?

    thanks
    Arron

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Central Coast, NSW
    Posts
    3,019

    Default drawknife

    Also, while there I bought this drawknife. I know drawknifes are not a common tool in Australia, but I hoped someone might be able to help me identify it. The first line of the manufacturers name is largely illegible - but might possibly end in 'martin' or 'gartin'. The next line reads 'MFG CO NY N0 42'. Judging by the build quality and attention to detail, which is really the nicest I have seen on a drawknife, it is of older manufacture rather then more recent. The handles are ash. Any ideas ?

    ps. for those who like to keep abreast of prices, saw was $10, drawknife $40, and I paid $40 for a Stanley no 5 in excellent condition.

    regards
    Arron

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    sunshine coast
    Posts
    814

    Default

    40 Dollars for the drawknife sounds about correct. I believe drawknives are relatively comon. A good indication for determinig age is to see if the blade is laminated or single piece of steel. Sharpen your drawknife as you would an axe file followed by a stone and remember when using this really undervalued tool , to use all the blade not just the center. To do this use a slicing action.
    If your really keen to use it, construct a shave horse. Simple and very effective.

    Hugs and kisses Damien!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Garvoc VIC AUSTRALIA
    Posts
    11,470

    Default

    Drawknife is one of those handtools that is about as fast as the modern electric tool (electric plane) but a lot more versatile.
    Regards, Bob Thomas

    www.wombatsawmill.com

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Brisbane
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    5,791

    Default

    I would run not walk away from a saw in that condition. It is likely that the tension in the blade has been upset by some sort of skulldugery.
    if the blade is wavy in the slightest, it will never get any better the metal has been stretched.
    Sounds like a tool of modest manufacture that is past due for conversion into a glue scraper.

    The draw knife looks cool.
    It looks like a "manufactured" item of reasonably recent vintage. I've recently aquierd various drawknives & the whole concept of the things they will do interests me. They are such a powerfull little tool.
    They aren't as common on the ground as hand planes but I wouldn't call them a rare find by any means. $40 seems to be a fair price for the aparant condition. Considering a new one will cost you anything from $85 to $150.
    cheers
    Any thing with sharp teeth eats meat.
    Most powertools have sharp teeth.
    People are made of meat.
    Abrasives can be just as dangerous as a blade.....and 10 times more painfull.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Central Coast, NSW
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    Default thanks and more questions

    Thanks guys. I dont doubt the comment about the stretched metal is pretty much right. I would still like answers to my other questions though - where are the experts on saws, or is it only planes that people get besotted by?

    Anyway, I went to the markets again this morning still trying to find old saws. Again, not much available. I did find a small tenon saw - fairly plain handle made of beech, heavy back stiffener but made of steel, large fancy engraving identifying the maker as 'George Ibbotson' and the tool as being made of 'cast steel'. I took this to be a tool of fairly middling manufacture - but as it was in good nick and was the princely sum of one dollar I bought it to practise setting and sharpening on. Once I got it home I decided to remove the handle by unscrewing the two holding screws - but to my surprise they simply turned round and round without undoing. I eventually realised that even though they have a fake screw slot, these were in fact cutlers rivets. This raises two more questions:
    1. what is the significance of 'cast steel' ? what does it matter for a saw ? If not cast what else could it be (pressed ? rolled ?) ?
    2. I expect finding cutlers rivets in a tool where you expect to find screws identifies it as being a cheapie. Is this true ? If not, why would there be apparent screw slots in the rivets - or have I read this all wrong ?

    thanks
    Arron

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Brisbane
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    5,791

    Default

    Are you sure they are rivets.
    I have a saw that you need two screw drivers to get the fixing screws undone.
    Any thing with sharp teeth eats meat.
    Most powertools have sharp teeth.
    People are made of meat.
    Abrasives can be just as dangerous as a blade.....and 10 times more painfull.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Central Coast, NSW
    Posts
    3,019

    Default

    No, I'm not sure they are rivets. One side is just flat and smooth - the other side has a screw slot. By pressing a finger hard on the smooth side and turning the other with a screwdriver, it just turns round and round without separating. After one was loosened I banged it back in and it felt exactly like driving cutlers rivets, just as I have done on knives.

    I guess it doesnt mean the rivets (if they are rivets) were put there by the manufacturer - they could have been added later by an owner.

    Incidently, I have spent this evening studying vintage saws, mostly on www.vintagesaws.com. I have now answered some of my questions:
    1. there is nothing wrong with a beech handle. Some of the best saws had them, including most top-of-the-range Disston back saws.
    2. steel stiffeners are more common on quality back saws then brass. Again, most of the top quality saws had steel.
    3. mild rust pitting in the blade is not a problem - it is only a problem if it is near the cutting area. As saw steel is basically a rust magnet, expecting old saws to not have some rust is just unrealistic.
    4. and sorry to contradict, but Pete Taran (God of saws) writes "Gradual curves can be removed with a little effort. Sharp kinks that crease the metal make a saw impossible to straighten. "

    Looks like I might have passed up buying a beaut old vintage saw for $10. Pity.

    Arron

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Central Coast, NSW
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    Default

    Just read on a website that some saws of relatively recent manufacture have things called 'quick rivets'.

    Arron

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    9,304

    Default

    The likely reason why the screws turn without coming out is that they join in the centre and, once separated, no longer turn on anything to move them apart. You will need to pull them out. I have never known a backsaw to use rivets - even modern cheapies use screws.

    With regards the wavy blade, often it is just bent a little (not stretched) and you can straighten it just by bending it back! Or, remove the handle and you can release the blade from the back reinforcing - just tap it out (as an aside: sometimes you will see backsaws that have blades of unequal depth - typically the rear is wider, making the blade look tapered. What has happened is that the rear has separated from the back reinforcing. Unscrew all and tap it back into place. Replace handle). OK, so if you have a blade that unuseable but only wavery at the teeth, turn it around and force the teeth into the back, then drill holes for the handle, and recut fresh teeth. Now you have a new backsaw.

    Nothing wrong with Beech. Most come with either Beech or Apple.

    All decent dovetail saws are sharpened about 15 tpi rip. Rip teeth are very easy to resharpen, as long as you have the small files to get right into the gussets. However, even a slightly larger version will get to the tips of the teeth and, as long as the old teeth are intact and level, it is a 10 minute job to sort out. To file rip, all you are doing is filing striagt across. Do alternate teeth and then file the remainder from the other side of the saw.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

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