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Restoring Saws, Saw Tools, and Other Equipment


 
  Handsaw Blade Cleaning by Bob Sturgeon 1 of 3  

You have made it back from making the circuit of your favorite flea markets and the antique malls and have picked up a couple of pretty good old decent hand saws. 

They definitely have their share of dirt and grime on the handles and a fair amount of rust, paint and grunge on the blades.  Can barely see some etchings on the blades through the rust, but at least no bad pitting.  Sound familiar.

I wrote an article a while back about cleaning and refinishing hand saw handles so I thought it only appropriate to continue now with a tutorial on the cleaning and refinishing of the hand saw blade.  The methods I use are similar to what I am sure a lot of others use, but with a few little tricks I learned from mistakes and doing things the hard way.

Here is an example of a fairly nice old Henry Disston D-8 that I picked up a while back and I am getting ready to clean. Have removed the screws and getting ready to take off the handle

It doesn’t take a lot of cleaning supplies. I use the following: Two sizes of ¾”wooden blocks, one 1-½” x 4” and one 1-½” x 3”, most of the time I use these flat, but sometimes on the edge to sand below an etch and other narrow areas. A pair of cotton gloves that have rubber facings on the fingers and palms. You can get these at most of the dollar stores.

They hold up and keep most of the rusty residue off of your hands. Started off using latex gloves, but they don’t stand much wear and the minute you touch a saw tooth, they are gone. Also tried Playtex yellow gloves, the kind ladies use to wash dishes with, these are the pits too.

I use four grades of Wet and Dry Auto Sandpaper, about 8 x 11 sheets, 220-320-400 and 1000 grit. Also use regular 220 grit sandpaper. Fold and cut the paper into quarters.

Paint thinner as a lubricant. A plastic bottle as a paint thinner dispenser. The best I have found is the type that joggers carry water in that has a pull up spout. You just open the spout and squirt some on the blade, then close it back up. Forget spray bottles, they just make a big mess and get everything wet.

A scraper used to scrape window glass (these are available at Ace Hardware) blades are heavier than razor blade scrapers, and about 4“ wide. The kind used to scrape off window stickers. And lots of paper towels.

I got myself four plastic bins to keep scrap sandpaper in. Sometimes you will use a new piece for just a little while, but it is still perfectly good. When I first started out cleaning saws, I just used a cardboard box and just through all of them in together. Not all scraps of sandpaper have numbers on the back and in together you don’t know what you’ve got. The bins keep everything separated.

First step in cleaning a hand saw is to scrape off as much surface rust as possible with a blade scraper held at a low angle, so as not to dig into the blade surface.

The window glass scraper I use is the best I have found. They are wide, stiff, the corners are already rounded off, and best of all they don’t flex. Scrape with short strokes, the length of the saw blade from one end to the other. Wipe off with a paper towel; scrape a couple more times until most of the loose rust is gone. 

The more you get off this way, the less sanding you have to do.


 
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