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Thread: A restored Disston D-4: Before/After pics

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Bucks County PA

    A restored Disston D-4: Before/After pics

    Some time ago I was researching the origin of a Disston D-4 Backsaw that was left to me by my Uncle Dom. I posted some photos on a couple WWing sites and was amazed to be informed that it dates from before the turn of the century! The tote was chipped and paint splattered, and the blade was dull as an old butter knife and dirty as heck. So I decided to restore it.

    Here's what it looked like before I started:

    I cleaned the blade with some 300 to 600 wet dry sandpaper and sent it off to Daryl Weir to be sharpened. While the blade was off and getting tuned up, I stripped the old finish off the tote and repaired the busted horn using a piece of apple wood (since the tote is apple as well). I was hoping that the new apple would age and blend in better as time goes by. But after seeing it, I'm sort of liking the contrast!

    The handle was given several coats of sealer with sanding in between. Over the last week I gave it several coats of lacquer. After the lacquered hardened for several days, I wet sanded the tote with Micro Mesh up to 15000 grit and then applied automotive car polish. This is the same finish I give to the turned items I make like pens, bottle stoppers and peppermills. I know it's overkill but I just couldn't stop myself!

    The brass hardware was cleaned and buffed until you could see yourself. The now sharpened blade was returned to me on Saturday just in time for me to finish up the tote. Everything was assembled tonight and given a coat of Renaissance Wax.

    Daryl discovered a small problem while he was jointing the blade. it appears that sometime during the last 100 years or so someone dropped something on the blade and kinked it a bit. This is enough to render it somewhat useless as a carcass saw. However, it will still work dandy at a bench hook, or miters, and for cutting shoulders of tenons.

    So,..what do you think of my first saw restoration?

    See ya around,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
    truly inspiring I didn't know you did flatwork though. LOL. I like the 'off color' thumb, looks pretty neat as it is. I bet it won't darken appreciably anytime soon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Quite a transformation, Dom. It looks great!
    "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a
    friend...if you have one."
    --George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

    "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second..if there is
    --Winston Churchill, in response

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I'll bet your uncle is smiling somewhere out there. Great job on the saw. That's definitely a nice addition to the till. I've got an old Disston saw waiting to be cleaned and sharpened, but I don't think it dates back as far as yours does.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    I'd say you have done good, very good in fact

    I too like the contrasting repair, I think it shows that someone (YOU!) care about this old saw. The twist is too bad, but I bet you will still get a lot of use from it, and it will put a smile on your face every time you see it.

    Well done indeed!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
    Nice refurbished saw!!

    I would be interested in knowing the exact date this saw was made as well. I noticed the handle attaches to the saw via bolts and threaded rivets, but not via split-nuts. Most saw makers quit making split nuts around the 1890's because of the hassle of making split-nuts. (I am in the process of making some for Alan Duboff, so I can attest to the difficult nature of making them).

    I think Simmonds patented the threaded rivet in 1884, and people often mistake that patent date on his saws rivets as the date of the saw. Since Simmons only made saws from 1901 to 1925, they can't have a saw that old.

    Still its funny how the littlest things can give away the dates of tools. Paul Hubbman has a Stanley #140 that had a Stanley Trademark in a crescent shaped. A tool historian quickly pointed out that not only did Paul have a rare #140 Stanley, he had the orginal version made between 1901-1909.

    Myself, I like the history of the old tools as much as the tools themselves. No matter what old tool I find, buy or discover, I always learn something new about it.

    By the way...just because you refurbished your handsaw does not mean you can't use it. The old timers loved their tools and loved to use them. I believe we should too.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Lumberton, MS

    Thumbs up

    I have that excat same saw. Though mine didn't come from an uncle. Mine was an ebay find.
    Gonna do the restore job as soon as I have time.

    You did a great job on yours. I'm sure your uncle would/will be proud of you!!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Cedar Park, TX
    The medallion puts it between 1896 and 1917. The stamp on the back is no help in narrowing it further. The totes didn't change radically during that period so that is also no real help. Great to have a saw, or any tool for that matter, with a family history attached to it. Nice job of the rehab, too.

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Bucks County PA

    Thanks for the compliments!

    Thanks for all the compliments about the saw. I got generally favorable responses about the refurb. I will be the first to admit that this is no longer "authentic" (as if I gave a hoot). However, it is now a usable saw that works as good as any I could buy. Plus it has sentimental value.

    I got a chance to really use the saw last night and was very impressed with the way it handled. Before this I was using a Crown gents saw with my bench hook. It worked but it was laborious to use. Switching to the D4 was like the first time I used a properly tuned 604.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    El Paso, TX

    Well, well, Mr Greco . . .

    Now theres a face with the name. The jig is up !

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