Monday, September 03, 2007

Cool saw

So, saw refurb then. Pretty easy example this one, because the bolts were easily removed and replaced. Not even close to always being the case in my experience - when in doubt leave 'em on! Anyway, as you can see looking a bit grotty:

Someone had applied some sort of unguent on the blade at some time to prevent rust, which didn't work that well and left a nasty tacky residue where it hadn't been worn away around the handle.

The handle is shapely and bedecked with the usual paint spatters, dabs of cascamite glue and just for laughs, a paper label. Can sort of make out a bit of an address, so perhaps a previous owner, possibly for the benefit of the saw doctor?

First tip-ette to pass on - if you're going to remove the bolts it can save unhappiness if you keep track of which bolt went where. Not that it matters that often, but when it does it can cause grief, so I find it a good habit to get into. Putting them inside the handle in their relative positions while you tackle the blade works for me.

With the handle removed you can see the crusty rust often found there, even on otherwise pretty spiffing examples.

With that and the gunge, a little light scraping before starting with the abrasives is in order. It's terribly easy to scratch instead of scrape, so exercise caution.

Um, yeah, bit of an older picture here - wasn't entirely switched on for WIP shots... But fwiw it's the same cherry offcut I've been using for years. Nothing special about it, it just suits me. There are probably as many choices of grit and lubricant (or not) as there are saw cleaners, but fwiw I like to use 320g wet 'n' dry and a slight preference for paraffin oil, but methylated spirts and white spirit have both seen service before now. Go "with the grain" down the length of the saw and watch out for any etch that may be present. You feel a right idiot if you sand it into oblivion.... Tip-ette number two; a piece of ply to support the thin blade while the back can overhang the edge is very useful.

And here's one side of the plate done, clearly showing the contrast with the untouched back. For steel backs I just use the used pieces of w'n'd without the block to clean them up, occasionally getting a rush to the head if it's a well-finished back like this one and polishing them. Of course that's a matter of taste, equally if not more so when it comes to brass backs and the saw nuts. By now you probably know I like shiny brass, and as it doesn't take that long to tarnish again I usually indulge myself.

The handle got the same treatment as I use on wooden planes - as shown here. The Liberon wax really is excellent for this and I've actually ended up buying some more specifically for tool cleaning; too soft for finishing! After a lot of trial and error it seems a square-bladed bradawl is as good an all-round handle-cleaning tool as any other. The point can "pop" the previously softened paint spots and the edges of the square point can be used as small scrapers for other areas. A brisk rub with the wax and fine non-woven abrasive can shift most of the rest.

So "afterwards"; steel minus crud.

Beech minus paint and with a quick polish of beeswax polish. Feels great now.

Whole saw finished, sharpened and set with a sort of combo cross-cut/rip set up I copied down from one of MikeW's forum posts at some point. Pretty heavy saw, but in a pleasing way. I fully intended to part with it when I started, but it might be a bit harder than anticipated...

Time now to look into W Douglas & Sons Ltd. Hand-saw Makers of Britain is Douglas-less, but then given that Putney in London doesn't immediately spring to mind as a hotbed of saw makers, that wasn't much of a surprise. So perhaps a dealer? Rebadged to be sold on? Never heard of them but that doesn't mean anything. To the Batmobile! Okay, Google then... An outfit with a whole wharf must be big enough to show up. And it did - but only when I stopped trying to search for "Douglas Wharf" with "saw".

"Douglas Wharf" with "Putney" got me a circular walk from Putney Station including the information that "The Boathouse was formerly Douglas Wharf, premises of William Douglas & Sons (refridgeration machinery)" Huh? Another hit gave me a link to a patent for "Improvements in fasteners for doors of cold storage rooms, such as ice safes and the like". And finally an antiquarian bookseller is trying to get £50 for a third edition of "Douglas's Encyclopaedia. The Standard Book of Reference for The Food Trades" by William Douglas and Sons. These characters were evidently deep into the ways and means of preserving food, particularly with reference to refrigeration. I currently presume that despite that they had cause for enough of their employees to be using back saws that they got them stamped with the firm's name. You might also conclude their employees were otherwise a bit on the light-fingered side...

So then, don't groan, but surely this qualifies this saw as being especially "cool"...?


  1. Alf

    I am not going to comment on the pun, except to say that I am sure that the employer got a frosty reception from the light-fingered among the workforce when he had all the tools stamped!

    Having read your description of resoring a woodie and now the reference to restoring the handle of this saw (good job BTW and I suspect that it's a 'keeper'), I thought I should mention that I use Ubeaut EEEwax made here in Australia followed by either Liberon or Ubeaut Traditional wax (both high in carnuba which makes them last).

    EEE is a wax with tripoli powder (hence the name - triple E) mixed into it, this makes it gerntly abrasive and really helps when cleaning gunge off wood. I find that I don't have to work as hard with the Scotchbrite as I do if I just use wax.

  2. Alf

    Curses! A previous attempt to comment seems to have failed.

    Brilliant work. Not just the refurb's technical details but all the sleuthing too. I got my info about Sorby from the company website Really fascinating stuff. Just love that lost world of old Sheffield toolmakers.




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