Restoring a Disston D8 Thumb Hole Rip Saw

While scouring antique malls looking for tools, I ran across this nice rip saw stuck in the back corner of a booth. It’s a Disston D8 Thumb Hole saw and considering it’s age, it was in very nice condition. Even though it had some rust on the blade, I knew it would clean up just fine.

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The first thing I did was take the saw apart and dip the blade in a bath of water with food grade citric acid. I let it sit overnight allowing the acid to eat all the rust off the blade.

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While the blade cooked, I focused my attention on the handle. Using Soy-Gel paint stripper, I cleaned all the gook and grime off the apple wood handle using a steel wool pad.

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Here’s the handle wiped off after just a few minutes of paint stripper on it.

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In the morning, I took the blade out of the bath and wiped it down with a paper towel. The blade was clean from rust, but was dull from the cook. I grabbed some drywall sponges and lightly sanded the blade. I then polished it with a variety of Sand Flex sanding sponges.

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Here’s the blade after the polishing was done. You can see how the blade was slightly pitted. Unfortunately because of the pitting, the etching was no longer present, but the saw will still make a fine user.

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After applying a couple of coats of shellac to the handle and putting it back together, the saw looked far better than when I bought it.

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Here’s a close up of the handle. You can see the crack at the bottom of the handle. A little bit of glue was all that was needed to fix it.

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The saw looked nice, but it needed to be sharp in order to work well. I took some Dykem layout fluid and spread it over the teeth of the saw so that I can see what I was doing better when filing the teeth.

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I used a file to joint the teeth flat then filed the flats away with a triangular file. If you’ve never attempted to sharpen a saw before, I recommend you start with a rip saw like this. It’s a pretty simple saw to sharpen and the big teeth are easy enough to see. For a video on how to sharpen a saw, you can look at this YouTube video of Frank Strazza of the Heritage School of Woodworking. The video is a little long, but Frank does a good job explaining the steps.

Here are the teeth after I sharpened the saw. I’m not the world’s best saw sharpener, but I can get the job done.

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Here’s a picture of the saw performing in mid cut. It stayed straight on the line and cut the wood like butter.

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Finally I made a short video showing the saw’s performance.

 

 

 

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10 Replies to “Restoring a Disston D8 Thumb Hole Rip Saw”

  1. Excellent article. I’ve restored a few tools and hate the dulled look you get after using chemical rust removers. It’s good to know that there’s an easy solution to restoring a little bit of shine that wont leave deep scratches.

    I can kill a rip saw, but still struggle with cross-cut saws. Queuing up the video for lunch…maybe I’ll learn some new tricks!

  2. Nice! I do the saw plates and sharpening, but with only one exception I’ve really not done any work on the handles. I suppose I should – they look great when they are cleaned up.

  3. Nice! I picked up a thumbhole D-8 in similar condition for $10 at Nashua last weekend. I usually just clean them with wet/dry sandpaper and sharpen them, but this saw deserves a fuller restoration like this.

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