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Handsaw Sharpening & Traditional Tools with Mike Hagemyer

  Straightening bent, kinked and bowed handsaws by Mike Hagemyer 1 of 4  

In the course of recovering old handsaws I have run onto many that have suffered bending damage of different degrees...


...  and some that I should have avoided but didnít. Today I will usually walk away from a saw that is badly bent up unless the price is awful low or the saw is special. However, I have to admit, for me itís difficult to pass up some saws no matter what.

Iím sure you know the scenario, a No. 12 Disston for twenty or thirty bucks because itís bent. That usually hooks me every time. I do try to at least assess before buying but they always seem to look better until I get them home. As a result I have had to straighten quite a few.

Here is an example of one such saw that I would normally not bother with. Besides being badly kinked, its plate has been painted with what looks like flat black paint over white primer.

Notice the white along the tooth line. Must be someone gave up on it and dedicated it to an art project but didnít finish. I actually bought this saw to salvage the handle and screws which are still very good.

Here are two views of the damage. It is bent in three places and two directions, sort of an s-shape. I would call this kinked actually.

This is the sort of thing that happens mostly from careless sawing. In the case of this saw, the plate width could have also been a contributing factor. This saw was once a big bad D-8 ripper with a wide heavy plate. As a saw is used and sharpened it loses plate width and thus loses stiffness and strength.

Taper grinding makes the plate thinner towards the top and thicker at the tooth line. The plate gradually loses the thickest and strongest area as it is sharpened. The more plate that gets used up the less tolerance there is for abuse. At any rate I am going to try and straighten this saw and share the experience.

I start by cleaning the plate. In this case I wonít try to get it spotless but I want it clean and smooth. Final cleaning will take place latter if I decide the plate is still useful. I wipe the plate with light oil before doing any hammer work. Besides protecting the plate from abrasion the oil also provides visual aid as does cleaning if you donít go too far too fast. Notice the shinny spots along the front side of the plate shown here.

They indicate high spots and there are several on this side. The worst area shows up as a streak nearly clear across the plate. It is the worst bend on this plate and the one I will work on first.

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Simonds Saws

Atkins Backsaws


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