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Keystone Saw Works - H. Disston & Sons, Inc. - Phila., PA


 
 

The Unfinished Disston Saw by Philip W. Baker

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Just recently a Henry Disston backsaw ca. 1853 found its way into the collection.

Condition of the tool was absolutely fabulous.  No matter how seasoned one is in the art of tool collecting, when you find such a tool, it takes a bit to have it all sink in.

The first thing I did was remove the handle to see if the bluing was present under the wood.  To my knowledge the Disston Firm blued every steel back backsaw they made with the exception of rare nickel plating ca. 1870's and brass plating ca. 1895 through the 1930's.  The back of this saw was never blued.

How come?  Read on.

 

Philip W. Baker

The apple wood handle then drew my attention.  All the curved surfaces were nicely finished but the flat surfaces were not.  I drew two conclusions from this observation.

1.  New handles were now finished at this time - lacquer or varnish - before preparation to receive saw screws when split nuts were used.  Once the handle received the screws both sides of the handle were sanded to bare wood thus eliminating the brass proud above the wood surface.

This explains the imperfect shape of the screw heads and nuts one may find if the screws are removed.

Also light cleaning of screw heads and split nuts will usually reveal marks left by the sander.

2.  Normally the sanded surfaces are refinished but not as nice as original work seems to be the rule.  This handle has received no finish after it was sanded. 

Then; I wanted to know the reason why; for this saw, in my opinion, would not have left the factory to be sold in this condition.


 
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