Refurbish a Hand Saw




Introduction: Refurbish a Hand Saw

In this Instructable I will give you the basic tools you need to restore an old hand saw to its former glory.

I was out with the wife, hitting up local garage sales, when we stopped at a condo community whose residents are mostly retired. They had Tupperware, pots, pans, and assorted nicknacks. I wandered around there small garage and didn’t see anything I was interested in. I turned to head out and venture onto the next garage when I bumped my knee on something. It was a hand saw with a 50 Cent sticker on it. I did not hesitate, I grabbed it up and handed it to my wife as she headed toward the elderly couple at the back of the garage. I figured I could always use a saw for hacking up 2X4s and treated lumber.

Upon arriving home I inspected my various finds. Upon closer inspection I realized there was markings on the blade and an emblem on the handle. I am curious by nature and decided to do some investigation. Scratching off some of the rust with 000 steal wool i found the name Disston and Son’s and decided to do a little Google search. Come to find out Disston is a very historic and well thought of saw, with amazing history. My looking at the emblem on the handle I was able to find out that my saw was made some time in the 50’s. I decided to restore the saw to its former glory and make it usable again.

Step 1: Supplies

1. Most important is a steal of a saw. I have gotten them at flea markets, garage sales, and even online when I don't mind spending a little extra.
2. Sand paper of light grit for stain and paint removal on handle.
3. Steel wool of various size.
4. Rust Remover- In this case I used Naval Jelly. Other people swear by Evaporust, I will try it in the future.
5. Paper towels, or many rags.
6. Tool oil. I used 3m but have recently added T-9 Boeshield
7. Stain and/or finish for the handle.

Step 2: Time for Rust Removal.

I removed the handle to make it easier to get at the blade for cleaning. I first used steel wool and some WD-40 to try an remove the rust but that seemed to not make much progress. So after some research into ways to remove rust I decided on any easy route- Naval Jelly.
I had thought of using electric and that hole bit, but I only paid 50 cents for it and I already had the Naval Jelly. I followed the directions on the bottle and did some extra scraping with the steel wool. And after several liberal coats and some scraping away the blade looked fairly nice. On the negative side the nice etching in the blade has faded some, which I am not terrible pleased with myself about.

Step 3: Handle

I used a paint stripper on the handle.  I picked a generic kind from the local box store and it worked amazing. I used fine grit sand paper to clean up the rest.

Step 4: The Results and Other Saws I Have Refurbished.

I finished the blade off by adding a liberal amount of wax fee 3M lubricant. I finished the handle by applying some oak stain and then some lacquer. The result was fantastic. I am very pleased. Some weeks after finishing the first saw I picked up a couple more at a flea market and have recently finished refurbishing one of them.  The next will be finished in the next few weeks.

***This instructable was done as an after thought and my next instructable will have many more photos and much more detail. Perhaps (if I think of it) I will take photos of the final saws restoration.  However it needs a new handle which I may make out of maple or oak.



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    20 Discussions


    1 year ago

    1. angle grinder pumice/stone

    2. Rustoleum clear rust inhibitor

    I love this, I have my Fathers saw that I want to clean up .. This is a tremendous help... Thanks .. looking for a way to refurbish old iron bed frames if you can give me any help .. Thanks, Linda

    1 reply

    Any idea on what to do if one of the screws just spins in the cap on the other side when you try to remove it? The final screw is trumping me...
    (I don't want to drill it)

    1 reply

    If you can gently get a hold of it with pliers that is an option. I had the same problem and used a vise to squeeze the cap and I was still able to get a flat head into the screw. Let me know how it works out.

    Very definitly for use, I used my Disston saw yesterday. Although maybe you could resharpen one yourself, better to use a resharpening service, they are available and reasonable.
    My saw was my father's, believe it was from 1930's or maybe earlier.
    Nice refurbishing job. Now I will get busy and fix mine up!

    That goes against by inner instructable paying someone to do I job I could learn myself :)

    You are correct, what was I thinking!

    I will include sharpening my hand saw myself as well as cleaning it up. The author of this Instructable has posted links for instructions on sharpening.

    Thanks for the comment.

    They are for use. Here are a couple links about sharpening. You wont find anything better than the first link. Enjoy. I may put a step by step together on sharpening, however this first link is pretty good.

    This Disston Saw was my dad's , it is from the 1930" I believe.
    Note the carving on the handle.


    I do know about it, however I am lazy.... Actually just impatient. I don't have a battery charger and I was so excited when I found out the saw was a vintage Disston that I just jumped right into cleaning it. The instructable is meant to be a down and dirty way of cleaning up a cheap saw you get at a flea market or garage sale. I use this saw and the other that I have restored. I built a deck box using only the saw highlighted in this instructable. I will in the future try new approaches and electrolytic rust removal is at the top of the list. Thanks for the reply, I should have mentioned it in the instructable and I appreciate the link to a very good instructable.

    Having refurbished my hand saw a couple of times, I thought your before pic was the after! Good job.

    One thing I've started to do is after oiling, I coat with a layer of Johnson's Paste Wax. I leave my saw outdoors, and it seems to be holding up really well.

    2 replies

    I have used paste wax on my tables saw top and on my scroll saw top. For hand tools (I do not leave mine out side LOL) I use Teflon non-stick lubricant from Dupont and/or T-9 Boeshield.

    Looks really nice!! I didn't pay much for mine so the steel wool was a means to an end. The saw has already seen use on some wood working projects. My am with restoration is in two parts; use and beauty. Use comes first. I had the teeth resharpened (something I wish to learn how to do).

    Disston D-8s are the most produced saws of all time. I haven't found one in as good a shape yet as you have. That hasn't stopped me from accumulating a few of them now though.

    Nice job it look really good.
    I did a refurbish job on a WWII era saw a few weeks ago, it started off like this as you can see from the attached picture it came out quite well.
    I didn't get rid of all the staining as I didn't want to damage the bevel & have to re-temper it, there is a little pitting but aside from that it's as smooth as new & once it had been sharpened it cut way better than one would expect from a saw that had been so neglected.
    I did quite a bit of checking online before I started & one thing that was said on almost every site was if you don't want to damage the etching to avoid steel wool like the plague, I used light oil & wet & dry paper around a sanding block on mine & although it doesn't show up in the pictures the etching came out quite well.
    The handle I cleaned up with a cabinet scraper then sanded the flat sides with a block so as not to damage the embossed text, the rest was done with fine sand paper attached to a 1/2" tube with double sided tape.
    Will you be looking out for more vintage tools to restore? I am waiting for a bit of spare time to start on a lovely old tenon saw next.