Salvaging a Rip Saw

From Trash to Treasure!

It seems I'm suddenly on a run of hand saws.  Last weekend I stopped at a yard sale and picked up three saws for $1 each - I'll get into those in future posts.  Then, the other day I was upstairs when I heard a bit of commotion in the side yard.  Calling down to my neighbor I asked what was happening and it turned out he was cleaning out his basement, which hadn't happened in a couple decades, certainly not since the previous owner was there.  Then, the following conversation took place:
Neighbor: Too bad for this old saw, ain't worth keeping.
Me: Crosscut or rip saw?
Neighbor: Rip saw - you want it? It's pretty rusty and the handle's rotted.
Me: I don't have a rip saw, set it aside and I'll take a look. [thinking to myself that I've rarely needed a rip saw, especially with all my power saws].

Later I went outside, checked it out and thought, heck - lemme see what I can do with it. It's the long saw in this picture (the others are the ones from the yard sale).

Let's Check it Out

The moment I laid eyes on the saw I knew my neighbor was right - this saw was a mess.  As you can see in this picture, the rust was heavy and thick (and there's my bench hammer!):

Also, the handle had water damage leaving a little mold behind, and what looked like some kind of bug holes.  Interestingly, it was only on one side of the handle, so I'm thinking the saw was laying on the floor all those years.

What is a Rip Saw Anyway?

When I was a kid, dad was giving the living room a makeover with wall paneling that had the look of white birch I think.  You can see the paneling on the wall behind gramma:

It just dawned on me - that picture is from 1975 because that's my kid sister who was born in February of '75!  Anyway, I don't remember what year he put that paneling in, but I do remember he had a few saws out while doing the job.  Two of the saws were long and looked pretty much the same to me, so I just had to ask - why did he have two of the same saws (I wasn't a particularly bright kid).  Dad said one cut a board the long way and one cut across the board.  That made absolutely no sense to me, but I let it go.  I just know that sometimes he said hand me this saw or that saw, and I'd usually grab the wrong one first!.  Half a century later, it all makes sense - it's all about the size and shape of the teeth on the saw.
Both crosscut saws and rip saws teeth are ‘set’ (bent away from the blade) but crosscut teeth are angled on their inside edge, whereas rip teeth aren’t.  This sharp angled edge means that crosscut teeth can slice through material like a series of little knives.  Crosscut teeth are designed for cutting across the grain of the wood. This is generally considered a more difficult task, so crosscut teeth saws are ideal for it.  Rip teeth don't have an angled edge, so they work more like little chisels, scraping the wood away rather than slicing through it.  Rip teeth are designed for cutting along or with the grain. This is generally considered an easier task, so rip teeth saws are the better option.

Salvaging the Blade

I showed you the condition of the saw, it was rough.  So I needed to see the extent of the damage.  I started by taking some 100 grit emery cloth and 3-in-1 oil to the blade.

After I got the old, crusty rust off the blade, it turned out the blade was still in good condition. There was no pitting in the steel, but one side had quite a bit of staining left from the rust. I didn't want to remove a lot of steel to get rid of the staining, concerned that it might affect the integrity of the blade.

I figured this saw was never going to be a museum piece and would certainly be put to use, so I spent a couple hours over the next couple days sanding the blade smooth so, while it didn't look brand new, it was every bit as smooth as a saw straight from the factory.

Check out some "Saw" posts on House 173
(posts about or involving saws)

My Oscillating Saw - Jan 2021
The Table Saw of Death - July 2017
The Radiator Cover Megapost - Dec 2019
Some of My favorites of Dad's Tools - Jan 2021
You might also like some Scrap Wood Posts at 173

Then To the Handle

Then I took an awl to the handle and scraped away at all the punky wood.  That one side of the handle really was in rough shape:

After removing that old punky wood, I noticed the handle was still a bit damp from being in that basement for 2 or 3 decades, so I decided to bake it.  No!  Not in the oven - I'm ugly but I ani't stupid!  While trying to figure a way to dry out the handle without just waiting a few weeks, I thought of my sister's Easy Bake Oven when we were kids and how that light bulb actually cooked things just using a light bulb (although I don't remember it actually cooking anything)!

Then I remembered that I had recently dried a ball peen hammer handle using a light bulb (another post that's in the writing phase):

So I did the same with the saw handle and it was thoroughly dry in a couple hours.  I never tried this before, but I used some wood hardener (don't go there!) and it really worked - did just what it said it would!

Somehow I forgot to get progress pictures of applying wood filler, but you get the idea I'm sure.  Much like the blade, I decided to make the handle look decent and be functional.  I didn't try to make it look brand new, but it turned out okay anyway...

As you can see I stained the wood too.  I used General Finishes' Walnut gel stain and a couple coats of clear shellac, and I gotta say, the good side of the handle looks terrific!


So, before we get to the reveal, I wanted to talk about the saw itself.  Here's what I know:
  • In sanding the blade down, I found it was stamped "5 1/2" which is the number of teeth per inch (TPI) (crosscuts are usually 8 to 10 TPI).
  • The medallion on the handle says "Warranted Superior".  Apparently, in Great Britain this really means something, but here in the States it just means that it was made for the generic market, oftentimes being stamped with whatever company contracted to have the saws made.  For instance, Craftsman didn't actually make tools, they sold tools made for them.  
  • This saw is 26" long, whereas my crosscut saw it 24".  I think the only thing that means is that on is 2" longer than the other.  I don't think there's any other significance.

And the Reveal!

This restoration really didn't take very long at all - most of the time being spent on sanding the blade and the hardware.  And like I said earlier, I didn't try for perfection but I'm still tickled with how it came out!  The stains are there but this saw is smooth as...whatever ultimate smooth comparison you use!

I also mentioned above that I had some more "saw" posts coming, and by then I'll have gone through the sharpening process.  But I gotta tell ya - this saw doesn't need much sharpening at all.  I tested it out and it made quick work of a three foot length of pine!  And here's a shot of my "new" rip saw all oiled up (for rust prevention) and hanging in its natural habitat...

Thanks so much for stopping by!
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