I find that dating the manufacture
of a saw is best done by studying a sizable collection of saws
produced by a single maker. This information can not be based on
hard facts, especially for early saws, because, to my knowledge
there are none.
This study has been aided by countless members of the Mid-West
Tool Collectors Association, Irv Schaffer’s book on “Saw Makers
of North America”, EAIA’s Directory of Tool Makers and Dr. Simon
Barley of the United Kingdom, who received his doctorate on Sheffield
Sawmaking c.1750 - c.1830.
Special thanks go to Wiktor Kuc, the editor and publisher
of wkFineTools.com, for sharing his knowledge of saw
manufacturing in America, his critical eye and uncompromised
drive for accuracy.
It may be seen in this study that
there is a progression of changes through the 50 years that it
covers. It seems that Henry in the early years 1841-50 was
inclined to “think outside the box”. After that period he still
made repeated changes. He always seemed to be looking for a
better or new product. All handles with one exception are of
apple. The exception is a beech open handle 10” saw, c. 1860.
Saw #1 - this c. 1841 saw may be the 1st
type backsaw Disston made. The letters
of the stamp are larger. "PHILADELPHIA" - a complete spelling and only time I have
seen it, is under the HENRY DISSTON arch. Warranted and cast
steel are to the right of the arch. Saw screw heads are 9/16” in
diameter. Note the early full cheeks with heavy chamfer and the
stop at the hook. It appears from the time Henry began to make
saws his handle design used the hook and carving at the base.
#2 - type 2 has the "HENRY DISSTON" arch in smaller letters and not
as steep. "PHILADA" is under the arch. "Cast Steel" is now to the
left of the arch and "Warranted" on the right. Over "Cast Steel" is a ¼”
high eagle. Is this his first use of the eagle? Did he mean to
use just the single eagle? The handle cheeks are not as full as
#1. The chamfer is still heavy but the stop at the hook is very
plain. Saw screw heads are 9/16”. Manufactured c. 1842.