Teaching a man to fish. . .

No Tools to Lend This came to me from a friend and fellow tool hunter, Will Hight. It was tacked inside one of his father’s tool chests and through the miracle of modern technology I bring it to your attention. The original may have been printed at the turn of the century but the idea remains a hard truth even today.

We’ve all head or experienced the neighbor who borrow a tool then returns broken or in less then original condition. I’m going to take a leap here and say that most tool collectors and craftsmen don’t borrow; rather they save up and collect over time the tools that are needed. I know this is true for me and I’m also guessing for many of you. From an early age I was either taught or just came to realize the value of a tool. That’s a complex thing and really you could write volumes on it.

Tools of yore weren’t cheap and although they may have been well made don’t confuse that with hardy. I’ve read different statistics on carpentry tool pricing and some higher end pieces, like a plow plane with a full set of blades, could be upwards of a month’s wages. Something like a handsaw could be a few days’ to a week’s wages and to kink or bend a plate doesn’t take much effort. Take it from me!

handle-stamp03 As a collector and restorer, I always take note of the condition for the obvious reason such as resale, but also I enjoy the story it tells. Things like early owners’ marks are well placed and stamped with care by the first owners to the later hastily initials carved like a 10 year old. You see this in all aspects of saws. I’ve found PERFECT handles on saws that have well sharpened teeth and bent plates. These often become wall hangers and time capsules in a way. The lack of care also translates into the value one puts into the tool. You pay very little for something and it sees little care. I see owners’ marks like the growth rings in a tree; they color and shape the final product like a piece of birdseye maple and without them you’re left with a sheet of farm raised yellow pine. So if you tend to sand handles smooth and refinished I’d urge you to reconsider this heavy-handed reaction to the saw’s character.

handle-stamp02So in closing, the thought behind this sign may be: think before you borrow, or more simply, keep your hands off my shit. I hope it makes you think a little harder about the relationship between humans and their tools and how their value affects the outcome of them. I’m sure it’s something as collectors we understand better than most and the reason we enjoy collecting a tool for every job!


No 9 to No 99— A Disston with panache!


Disston-99_05Ok, what can I say . . . it’s been a while.

This past year has seen a good deal of change in my life with a move to south Jersey from living just outside NYC. The shop and business survived the move but my free time for the blog has been misplaced.

December however is the poster child for reflection and pointless resolutions, so why not jump on the wagon early with a post from the saw monger.

Disston-99_01And who better to help me out than Mike Stemple, one of the first and most popular posts I’ve had. He also enjoys among other things sending me hopeless saw handles that I pull my hair repairing. This one however is in very nice condition for a change and just about ready to head back! Sorry for having it so long, Mike.

I’m sure many of you will recognize this saw from the triple medallions; it’s a Disston No. 99. I see them from time to time but this one is extra special for a few reasons. It was previously owned by Carl Bilderback who’s better known for his Panther head repairs, as well as all things Atkins. I’ve seen some examples at the Mid-West shows and I’m told as a whole it’s quite impressive.

The other special thing is the age; this No. 99 is a very early  “SON” example. The lone handle is mine and also early, but made after his first son joined the company as noted. I found it years ago in a bucket and paid $10 at a tool show. Although you can easily see a few differences between the two handles, the most noticeable is the lower ogee clip area where the tag is. It’s possible these differences were creative distinctions or designed model changes, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The No. 99 was produced from 1865-1918 and, like the evolution of many things, I’d guess it started life as an offshoot of the popular but simpler No. 9 from around the same period. They share a distinct handle with the curved lower ogee and clip. The No. 9 was a good early seller for Disston, but like any company they needed to up the ante. Wa-la, the 99 was born. It used “Extra Refined London Spring Steel” which Disston made sure to point out in printed catalogs and advertising, emphasizing that it was hand selected and above all others! Disston was nothing if not a good promoter; but joking aside, it’s easy to see the detail and care in both handles.

The No. 99’s that Disston produced in numbers easily get the bling award with triple medallions and aforementioned higher end spring steel. The top and bottom warranted superior medallions were throwback designs featuring earlier style eagles and the middle was the current Disston medallion. I say “throwback” for a few reasons. Looking at the center keystone medallion and using both disstonianinstitute and past experience, this iteration of the style falls around 1870-72 but the other two look earlier to me and are often found on late 1860’s saws. We know manufacturers often find uses for older parts and this might have been done to use up older label screws on his secondary lines. Or it’s possible they were brought back into production for these handles.

Disston-99_03The No. 99 changed over the years and the disstonianinstitute does have a few examples of early and late but as luck would have it, these two are much closer in years and this provides some good info. As pointed out above, the first thing you note is the differences in the lower part of the handle, the low ogee curve. In my later handle you can see a distinctive rolled clip has been added. Take a second to check out the pictures. As someone who’s made a few handles and repaired a few more knows, the guys making these had some mad skills, as the kids say.

You’ll also note my handle has a bit more meat in areas and the overall size is slightly larger. This could be due to the size of the saw; larger rip saws often used bigger handles. With the evolution of saws, handle refinements in general were simplified and areas that cracked were strengthened. I don’t have the plate so it’s hard to say.

In regards to the simplified, strengthened later handles, we often associate this as a bad thing, as the outcome is often less interesting; but in real world use, the later models have way less broken horns. Note the lower clip on Mike’s and it has cracks; it’s not bad but you can see how delicate the area is. The later models also have thicker horns.

Disston-99_04So how many years between the two are there you ask? I’d say looking at that center keystone design is the best way to date them. The first clue is the “SON” and SONS” The keystone SON design has a short window from around 1865-71 and overlaps the SONS in 1970 then continues till Disston patented his own Glover style screw which started showing up in 1876. Looking at them both, you can see the earlier one has the single outline of the keystone while the later has the double. They also both have the smaller “A” at the end of PHILADA. Other differences can be found but I’d say mine is closer to that overlap and about 5-7 years apart.

So that’s where I’ll end this one for now and just point out if this type of historical look at tools interests you, consider joining one of the may tool clubs in the area. They are only as good as the members. I try and stay current on three of them, the biggest being the Mid-West Tool Collectors. The Ohio Tool Collectors may be smaller in members, but for lovers of all things saws there is a never ending supply of new articles on the topic. This is in large part due to the editor and his house of saws that will soon have this 99 in it. The last would be my local club CRAFTS. I don’t make nearly enough meetings but I’ve never left the parking lot sale empty handed!

Happy Holidays & Peace in the new Year!

The saw Monger

The best screw wins

screwsOnce again I’ll start by saying sorry for the long holiday in the blog. The job searching is slow going and working full time in the shop doesn’t leave as much time at the end of the day for collecting my thoughts. On the upside, I’ve enjoyed some projects like adding cruise control and a spline lube to my K75 motorcycle.

BMWThis has been one of the colder winters I can remember here in the northeast but I welcome the warmer weather as I write this. Spring is a time for renewal, doubly so as the coffers are getting low. I look forward to finding some new treasures and the adventures that go along with them.

I did make it out to the midwest tool show, Cabin Fever, in January, and this year it truly was cabin fever as many of the members traveling from Ohio and the midwest were having their own winter wonderland. The weather is always an issue for this show but it did cooperate with cold temps while the snow held off till later in the day.

toolshowA good selection of tools was available and I was lucky enough to pick up a nice Atkins 400 and few Disston workhorses. In addition to the show I got the chance to catch up with friends. Mike had just picked up a really rare and early Disston backsaw that needed some handle attention.  I don’t often get a picture of me with others so I made sure to get one with the boys, Mike and David.

Mike asked for a quick turn on the repair for an up and coming show so the picture I have isn’t the greatest, but I was really happy with the final repair, as was Mike.

I’ve talked a little about this in the past but I wanted to revisit the one part of vintage saws that’s often overlooked – the screws. Most of us just divide them into two categories pre- or post- split nuts. That’s fine for conversational talk but when you get a little more technical, the time right around the end of the split nut, and what we currently find on saws, based off the Glover patent and later, commonly called a Chicago screw by some, was very active. Hand saws were being produced in high numbers and all the makers were looking for a better way to hold the handles to the plate.

The years preceding the split nut, say. . . mid-1870’s and pre-Glover mid-1880s, produced, in my opinion, the best looking and split the line between collectable and users among the best. Handles were often still quite detailed with hand shaped horns and wheat carving.  In my sale descriptions, I’ll call them “pre- or post- Glover patent.” From time to time I get questions as to what’s that about or in reference to, hence this post; so read on.

There are a number of good sources for patent dates and information, but to simplify things I’ll be using DATAMP or the Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents. I’ll do my best not to plagiarize the hell out of them, but just understand that this is not new research or ideas that I’m taking credit for.

They have a number of good lists of patents and info. A complete list of the 9 saw patents can be found here but I’m just going to touch on a few of the more notable.


The Munger Patent: Iff you look at the top of the bolt (male side) you can often see the ring where it attaches to the shaft. The shaft of the screws also tend to be very thin in comparison to the others. I tend to find them on Peace and Wheeler Madden and Clemson saws.

David T.Munger Dec. 21, 1869 Waterbury, CT
This was issued after the Washborne’s patent (what’s commonly known as split nuts). Construction differs in the use of a perforated disk that’s secured to the shank around the edge of the head and looks similar to the later Glover style screws at first glance. Looking closer you’ll note the threaded shafts are thinner, and looking at the screw top you’ll see the round center of shaft where it was connected. This patent is marked on several manufacturers; I mostly find them on Peace, Richardson, and WMC.


Disston Patent Saw Screws: These can be tricky to tell when on the saw but once removed note the casting marks. Also note the square section on the bolt (male side) where it attaches to the head.

Henry Disston Aug. 29, 1876 Philadelphia, PA
The heads of the saw screw and nut are slightly domed and their outer edges beveled so that they flare outward toward the face. Additionally, the screw is received by a threaded socket in the tubular shape (female side of the saw screw). The tubular projection (female) may or may not be long enough to engage the saw blade. Disston expressed a preference for those which are long enough to engage the blade. The overall purpose of this patent is to allow the handle and the saw nuts and screws to be finished and polished prior to assembly. Remember that split nuts would have been sanded with the handle and installed before finishing the wood. The beveled underside of the edges formed their own seats in slightly undersized shallow holes in the handle. This allowed the saw screws to be subsequently tightened without altering appearances.

Saw nuts based on this patent were cast, unlike the Munger patent of 1869, which makes them more expensive to produce. Additionally, the shafts were relatively thin, so were prone to twisting off. In time, they would be superseded by Glover’s patent (375350).

So taking these two patents into consideration you can see the groundwork for the final design of the modern saw screw, aka Glover patent screw we all know. The Glover patent screw is an improved Munger design, just making the male side of the screw out of a single piece of metal like the Disston patent, but turning it from a single piece, as well increasing size and a few other improvements.


The Glover Patent: The de facto standard chances are if the saw was made after 1890 you’re looking at a Glover saw screw. They do change in size a little bit over the years but over all they are beefier. Note the ridge on the lower section of bolt (male side) the ridges were used to hold it when threading and also helped prevent them from spinning.

Charles Glover Dec. 27, 1887 Hartford, CT
The final chapter: The primary focus of this patent is the two-part construction of the saw medallion (“label screw”). In a sense, it can be seen as an improvement on Munger’s patent (U.S.P.N 98180), which had no provision for preventing the shaft from twisting independently of the head if the swaged joint failed. This improvement was found in the Disston patent. The large surface of Glover’s medallion, in conjunction with the squared shoulder where it is seated into the handle, allowed it to resist turning.

The medallion (figures 2, 3 & 4) and the saw screw (figure 5) shown in Glover’s patent drawings both feature the internally threaded construction patented by Henry Disston in1876 181648. This form displaces the through screw and “split nut” arrangement which had been the norm. Glover’s saw screw differs from Disston’s by being formed in a die rather than being cast and having longitudinal ribs on the shaft rather than a square section to resist turning. Also, though not specified in the patent, the shafts of Glover’s saw nuts were of stouter construction. Glover’s form eventually superseded Disston’s.

Saw medallions with the Glover patent date have been found on saws from a wide variety of manufacturers and would eventually wind up in the hands of Disston after he dissolved the National Saw Company.

So with this in mind, the next time you’re out at the flea market searching for lost treasures, take a second glance at the brass nuts on some of the smaller makers, like the WMC, Peace, and Richardson Brothers, and I’m sure you’ll find some pre-Glover gems.

Joe Federici
Jobber of fine handsaws

Winter Wonderland

ChristmasShopI’ll start but saying Happy New year to everyone in Sawville and hope Santa treated you well for Christmas. The winter months in the world of tools slow down but I’ve been lucky enough to have a few saws streaming through the shop for sharpening and restoration so my hands haven’t been too idle.

December and January are always slow on the auctions and boot sales so I was happy to get a call from someone I met earlier this year at the Hearne Hardwoods open house.  He had a number of older saws that he was selling off and at the time we met he was just looking to get rid of any that had been left by the previous pickers who had gone through the collection. His small shop was located not far from Trenton. I knew the seller that had gone through the collection so at best I figured I’d find some interesting wall hangers and saws for parts.

After a quick tour of his shop we headed over to his storage area and dug through one of the largest collection of carpentry day or travel type boxes I’ve seen. Rick explained that for years he’d hit the Golden Nugget flea market and bought them when the prices were just a few dollars. He’d sell off the tools but liked the boxes. Over time, like most stuff with drawers, they filled up. Saws for so many years had low value, and well, they just piled up. Now that pile was on a tarp in my wagon and as promised I took all of them, the good and the bad.

canofsawsOnce back home I sorted them into trash, parts and possible restoration/keepers. As I had figured, most were in the trash and parts piles but Rick had some really nice wall hangers for the few of us that enjoy the history and look regardless of the function. Rick was a retired carpenter but also did some turning on the side and in the mix was a bowel of various saw screws and hardware that was fun to go through. I’m always in search of spare Munger patent screws as many of the early Peace and WMC saws used them, and due to the design they don’t take excessive torque well.

After the dust settled I set to work pulling handles from plates. Note to self, I need to find a local scrap yard as my collection of bent plates must be near 100 pounds at this point. As predicted, I did find a few interesting wall hangers for the shop and I’ll share a few of them.

The first is an unmarked, I would guess English, table saw that looks to have last been filed rip.  At first I was thinking this was possibly the remains of a panel saw that’d just seen a few decades of use, and at some point the lower cheek started to get in the way so the handle was cut to be open. However, as I now write this and look at the pictures, I still feel the plate has been cut down but the handle was mostly likely always open. The old English beech handle with split nuts remains tight and I would guess at some point as the saw grew shorter a nib was added, then broken off. The beak and top hook of the handle have that classic FAT yet shapely look like a plump woman in a Renaissance painting.

tablesawNext up is a well loved early Disston. I’m guessing this is a No 9 but I thought they used apple handles. This one however looks to be beech or at least not a fruit wood, but it’s been heavily coated with finish so it’s a little hard to tell. Regardless, it’s a wonderful old Disston from a time before aid of machinery. This sucker was hand shaped with files. The No 9’s are also an interesting model in that the handles changed shapes and some examples look more like the No 7, while others have the double lobes of the later No 12. I’m not sure if the plate is original to the handle but a faint etch can be made out. I also found a small secondary one closer to the handle of which “Warranted” is about all I can make out.

DisstonNo9plateI’m a sucker for hardware saws so this was a keeper regardless of the condition. It’s amazing the info one can find online and a quick Google book search found me this ad from the 1880’s, Humphrey, Dodge & Smith Jobbers and retailers in hardware. Look at the saw screws that are a distinctive dome style that with repeated use have sunken into the apple wood handle.  It’s interesting to note that most saws filed this deep into the plate would exhibit a shaved cheek from the handle hitting the wood with each stroke or a broken lower ogee. This one seems to have had some care taken by its previous owners.

HumphreyDodgeHumphreySawI’ll finish with this one and as someone who’s done their fair share of repairs I love the use of recycled bits, fit, and finish. I find a good deal of Spears & Jackson saws in my travels. For the most part I think the early ones had inferior steel to the US counterparts but handles, fit, and finish are always quite nice. The wood alone in this handle is nicer than most I find in similar years made in the US. However, what kept this one from going under the knife and off to the scrap yard was the repair. The saws may be from the UK but that handle repair is all America. I’m left wondering what the 5 stapled in the metal represents. Also note the fit of the screw heads; this was done with care by someone who felt if they were going to take the time, regardless of the job, it would be done right. Surely worthy of a place on the wall.


S&JsawI’ll pick out a few others for a later date. . .

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2014.

Joe Federici
Jobber of fine handsaws

Feel the Love

L&S_backsawAs the saying goes, finding a job is a full-time job. Add to that the economy plus balancing the saw business and well my time has been in short supply. That said, I’ve been picking up some freelance pre-press/graphic production work and although the sales have been light, the sharpening has been steady. And most importantly, I’m still happy and enjoy the little wonders I find when working with old tools.

One such is this backsaw. I don’t normally take in UK saws as I deal more with users and I already have more then I can currently work through. The owner, however, was looking for a 16” user and I figured it was an early brass backed saw. Who among us isn’t enamored by brass in tools? It’s like moths to a flame.

L&S_stampHaving a closer look, you can see a few tell tail signs of an early maker:

  • Big sweeping cheeks on the handle
  • The use of Rivets and two versus three on a saw this size
  • Scalloped edges on the stamp
  • Dots between Love and Spear & German and Steel
  • The use of German over spring or Cast

L&S_cheekSo with a little web searching I found some clues pointing to be pre-Spears & Jackson collaboration from the late 1700’s. Way cool to think something is that old!  This fueled the fires and a quick trip to the S&J website yielded the following:

In 1760, John Love, a drapery maker, changed directions and started a steel making company in Sheffield. This was in large part due to the rapidly growing production of metal production due to the abundance of raw materials. Love was joined by Alexander Spear, a wealthy merchant from Wakefield (local to the area) and the newly formed firm was named Spear & Love.

L&S_hornOver the next few decades the company focused on the production of saws and business grew. In 1814, with the firm now run by Alexander Spear’s nephew, John Spear, an apprentice named Sam Jackson was added. Jackson proved a capable assistant and in 1830 the company was renamed Spear & Jackson. You can read more here.

So with that I snapped a few pics and emailed a friend who’s knowledge of UK saws far exceeds mine.

David emailed back the following “They (Love & Spears) don’t appear in the 1781 Sheffield Directory.  They do appear in Gales & Martin’s 1787 directory as “factors and steel refiners” on New Street.   They next appear in Robinson’s 1797 Directory as “merchants, factors & steel refiners” on Scotland St. But they do not appear in Baine’s 1822 directory.”

Love & Spears are at least from 1787 to 1797, give or take a little bit. It’s interesting that they’re not listed as sawmakers, but rather as merchants and factors, who have other people make things for them.

I know the line between tool collector and user is often made of barbed wire, but we can all enjoy geeking-out over the craftsmanship and the history.

L&S_handle Whenever I look at a saw from this point in history; late 1700 to early 1800’s, I first think about the maker or company as it’s hard to strip value from any tool, it’s part of what I do. But when I stop, and realize most saws were NOT made by the stamps namesake but rather nameless craftsmen, I can better focus on the details. Details like the ultra fine lower ogee that starts with a small lamb’s tongue and terminates at the London style handle with a clip. Yes, I’ve seen more ornate versions of both, but in many ways, it speaks to balance of design. We often hear the cost of these saws could cost the original owner a week of wages, so it’s important that form follows function. Although in later years, details are ornate and come at a cost of broken handles. One detail I love and often overlook is the area where the back butts the handle. The chamfer, chamfer stop, into the beak. The transition in particular from the chamfer into the stop is just so simple and perfect with that micro transition as it terminates into the hook. Perfection.

Now I’ll do my best not to ramble about the history but when you think about England and America around the time this was made, well, it’s mind blowing to think this saw is A. here and B. still in once piece. . .

Just to recap some history. In 1774 the colony had established there own governmental institution but still recognized the British Crown and empire. The British responded by sending combat troops and well, in short, we told king George III to go piss off and the American Revolutionary War AKA American War of Independence ensued between1775–1783.

So to think this saw was made between the tail end or shortly after the war, then travel to ground zero in the Philadelphia area is just wild. We know Love & Spears were in business on or before 1787 in England, while here in the US The battle of Monmouth was fought on June 28, 1778, a turning point for George Washington after loosing his foothold on Philly. The win turned the tie of motivation in our favor. The location also happens to be within miles from where it was found. Coincidence? Who knows, but so very cool!

And with that I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and offer food for thought on all thing tools.

Joe Federici
Enjoying the mystery

Got Wood?

HH03Let me start off by saying thank you to everyone who stopped by my bench at the Hearne Hardwoods open house. This was my second year going and I tried to be a little better prepared and brought tools to sell as well as a kit for those of you with questions about filing.

Being my second year I had a better idea what to bring and how to set up. I also expanded my time and went both Friday and Saturday after talking with Mario and Allen of Philadelphia Furniture Workshop who felt Friday was the busier day.

HH02Getting there on Friday prior to the opening also allowed me to set up and walk around a little. For those of you outside the area or just haven’t had the time to visit Hearne, driving up it looks like most lumber yards with a large pole building but after a short walk around and side said building you quickly realize the amount and selection of flitch & log sets they have.

HH01For those of you that did stop by and talk, a few of us talked about a hardware store saw for “Chandler & Barber” that I was filing as time permitted. At the time I hadn’t had time to look into the hardware store.  As it turned out, Chandler & Barber was one of the largest and well know hardware stores in the Boston area.

HH05Hardware was their back-bone, but like Sear and Woolworths, they branched out over the years. Owners Alexander Chandler, editor of Hardware Record Magazine , and D. Fletcher Barber owned and operated the hardware company located at 122-124 Summer Street in Boston during the mid-1800’s through the 1920s. The manufacturing of these saws would have been contracted by one of the larger saw manufacturers and looking the saw over I would say Disston or C.E. Jennings.

HH04Before signing off, I also want to thank the many of you that have sent me saws for sharpening.

Saws, for the time being, have become a large part of my income and I appreciate the new and repeat business. For those of you who follow me in ebay, you will have noticed I’ve switched over most of my saws to buy it now. I’ve done this for a few reasons, the main one being it’s just the fairest way to do business for both me and the future owner. No shill bidding for buyers to worry about and I can get a fair price for the work done. Plus for those who feel the price is high I’m always willing to take offers. For those of you looking for the best deal I normally sell the same saws on my personal site at a slightly lower then ebay price. I do this as my site saves me the MANY ebay fees and I pass it on.

Rest assured I’ll always keep a few saws on auctions for the diehards.

Till next time,


Joe FedericiA fool for fall!

another ending

biketripNHAnother tool season, like summer, is coming to a close. But here in the northeast, September treats us to many warm days and cool nights perfect out door activities and my favorite time of the year.

September starts with my annual trip to the Gauly river.  A few weeks later I’m off to MJD’s auction in NH. I have a little more time on my hands, so after the show I met up with a friend and we spent a week on the motorbikes camping and riding through RI, MASS and NH.

But enough about that as most of you are saw guys like me!

It would seem we have the lustrous and larger then life Patrick Leach to thank for an ever earlier and earlier arrival of the buyers and seller.  So with that in mind, I arrived Wednesday and found tables all ready as I back the van into my usual spot.

NHparkinglotThe pickings in the fall are always a little lighter then spring but I wrangled a few nice saws and picked up a really nice craftsman built saw vise perfect for full size saws. Something I hadn’t come across in the past. Then I found another one the following day!  The second being of furniture quality and quickly found a home with my friend and deft tool repair craftsman John Porritt.

John, being a life long artisan and trained cabinet maker, has a great knowledge of early joinery and being a fellow saw lover he fancied the vise and somehow it followed him home but not before a great discussion on all things woods and the history behind “yew” wood used in English and Welsh longbows and the reason it is found in churches. All very cool, note to self: plant some around the shop before the next siege!

Friday’s auction, often called “the dealer auction”, wasn’t heavy in saws but did offer a lot of great items that I’m sure have found their way into the hands of many of you. I’m, however, more of a lot lizard and enjoy trolling the yard, digging and conversing with others. Those of you that know me, keeping my mouth shut while sitting through an auction is torturous.

FriAuctionSo back out in the parking lot, but not before I grabbed a few napkins (for drive) I walked over to Don Rosebrook’s amazing collection of near mint saws and saw accessories. It’s a real treat just seeing so many pristine examples of saws Don has collected over the last 10+ years. This year he brought some interesting sales displays, one being a large Disston sign in the shape of a D8 rip saw. The handles was cast and I’d say it weighed over 20 lbs. Far outside my price range but just awesome to see. The saw used was from around the glover patent when the medallions were still sunken. I personally think those are the nicest years.

disstonsignThis year I also brought some saws and a few other odds and ends to sell. Mostly straight warranted superior saws that would make good users that I had picked up the year before in box lots. Changing gears and selling was fun and I enjoyed talking and meeting locals who came Saturday to walk around the parking lot. Saturday is also the main sale for most of the collectors and larger buyers. Prices seemed to be good and that was nice for all of us who resale. I finished packing up my things in the AM and made plans to travel back towards Boston to meet up with a friend and now customer Freddy Roman. I had met Freddy the prior year through Josh Clark. Freddy makes reproduction and custom designed period furniture. I’m sorry to say I just didn’t think of taking my camera with me into Freddy studio. The minute I got back onto the expressway I smacked my head.  Regardless, check out his site.  The shop was filled with projects in various stages of completion. Freddy had contacted me about buying a rip saw plus having me look over and sharpen a few of his saws.  Before leaving he followed me back to the van to check out my latest finds.  The gentleman packing up next me gave me a Disston meat saw that hadn’t sold and I exchanged for a saw in my inventory.  Freddy took a shine to it, so I was more than happy to pass it on to a new home.  Meat saws have never held much interest to me unless it’s a maker I fancy.

triprouteThe business portion of the trip concluded, I checked in my friend Bob Mac and set an ETA for meeting up. Having spent a few days in the van and now switching gears to the bike required gathering my previously gathered, but yet to be packed clothing and gear for the next week, then fitting into and on the bike. This being the second time in the last few months we’ve bike camped, we both have our preferred kit.

RIjamestownOnce together we discussed routes and figured out our general daily route then printed up a trip tick of sorts and a tank map. Route set, we finished loading gear and a final check of the weather. I won’t bore you with the finer details of the day to day and just say it was great time and the weather was better then I had ever hoped. I’m am an avid camper so for those interested would happy recommend any of the sites we camped at if you’re traveling in those areas.  By far the two nicest were also close to each other. In the past, most of my time sight seeing and camping in NH has been around the Whites, but the lakes and surrounding area of Winnipesaukee were spectacular. Pawtuckaway and Bear Brook State Parks both offered some of the best views and cleanest campgrounds I’ve been at in recent memory. I’m sure this being off peak times played a big part, but just the same, if you’re in the area they are worth checking out.

tripMAI’ve listed them in the order we camped and corresponding to the map pictured above.

Shawme-Crowell State Forest MA
Wompatuck State Park MA
Pawtuckaway State Park NH
Ammonoosuc Campground NH
Bear Brook State Park NH

tripwhites01The time we spent in North Conway and around the whites is always majestic, and it was nice taking the road up mount Washington as thus far it’s always been on foot. The k bike also enjoyed a few roads less traveled and handled the 15 or so miles of dirt as if it were a dual sports.

tripwhitesWith that I’ll say cheers till the next post. Last weekend was the open house at Hearne Hardwoods and I want to thank everyone who stopped by and double to those that bought a saw or other item. More to come on that with next post.

Joe Federici
saw wrangler

The Jobber of Fine Handsaws

Hearne Hardwoods open house I hope everyone had a really great and productive summer.  In the northeast it’s been a bit of a wet one, so for my friends in the boating world it’s been a good one for sure.

Early in the summer I was in New Hampshire for a repeat trip to see a good friend and fellow seller. Dean’s place as always is a treasure trove of cool and unusual saws. Recently I’ve been on a Joseph Flint kick after first picking up a well loved example in upstate New York last year.

J.FlintWhat first struck me was the medallion in the handle was reversed; something I guess as a left handed sawyer I just naturally noted. Now I should point out, this being a well-used example, it’s quite possibly something a previous owner did; regardless, I filed it away under “that’s cool”. Since then I’ve been on the hunt, and although I’ve bought a few other examples including a Shurly Dietrich which he was involved in, none have had a reversed saw screw medallion.

Clapp&TreatBut I digress; so to get back on point… While at Dean’s I picked up another J. Flint and a really cool hardware store saw made for Clapp & Treat Hardware and later Outfitters. More will come on that, as I just finished cleaning it up and will try to post a picture.

For those of you in the Philadelphia area, Hearne Hardwoods is having an open house again this year. The dates are Friday, October 4th and Saturday, October 5th. This year I’ll be there both days, so please stop by and say, “Hi.” Like last year I’ll have my workmate and vise and will be happy to answer any questions. Last year I had a lot of fun meeting local craftsmen and talking shop.

Critical PastMy friend Mark of Foley Filer and past post emailed me a great link to some vintage black and white films taken of the Disston plate. The quality is quite good and it’s cool to see how some of the plates were toothed and the handles were carved and shaped. You can buy them for as little as $4.00; Mark reports they view quite well even with the watermarks.  The site is Critical Past and if this link doesn’t work just search Disston and you should get 5 clips.

In other news I’ve recently moved the shop back to South Jersey and doing my best to change over any paperwork or websites to my new mailing address. My email and such remain the same, but if you’re interested in getting a saw sharpened or worked on, my new mailing address is:

P.O. Box 446
Moorestown NJ 08057

In addition my turn-around should be a little quicker as I’m a fulltime saw mechanic, while seeking local employment, happily now back in the Philly area. Life is full of change and I’m looking forward to new opportunities. In looking over some older advertisements from the mid-1800’s I found references to a “Jobber”, which I rather liked and felt fit me as I currently meet both definitions.

Joe Federici
Jobber of Fine Handsaws

End of an Error

SAABGT850As I posted in the last blog I bought a new car but I’d be seriously remiss if I didn’t take a second to share the passing of truly one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. I recently bought a new car, 2013 Jetta Sportwagen tdi, and with it traded my 1998 SAAB 900 SE.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a car guy and like most of us I’m loyal to my brands. So why the change of heart? Well I spare you the long rant but mostly it has to do with the GM takeover and quick dismantlement of EVERYTHING Saab owners appealed to. As happy as I am that GM and American car manufacturers are doing better, it doesn’t help those who loved everything Saab offered – a truly unique car that married luxury with utility performance safety. Let us not forget Saab may not have invented the seat belt but in 1958 was the first to make them standard. So now I’m getting comfy with the new ride but with a tinge of sadness.

Ok enough about cars (for now). Let’s talk saws. When you’re looking for like- minded individuals you need not look further than the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. I think it was Matt Cianci from the saw blog who turned me onto a member while looking for information on a saw maker. When I got a bit deeper into saw-dom, I found most tool guys were members regardless of their geographic location. So this being my second year in the fold I really wanted to make one of the bigger national meets. As I’ve already been hobnobbing with a few board members, I made plans for the June spring meet.

The drive out from Jersey is about 12 hours so I decided that leaving around sunrise was my best bet and it worked well. Vincent Van Go may not look it but travels quite nicely provided you’re not looking to break land speed records.

Once there I quickly found the reserved parking area for the boot sale on Thursday. Funny enough, when I pulled into the area, rolled down my window to ask the first fellow van dweller in the parking lot, it was none other than the infamous leader of the “I’ve got a saw problem” 12 step plan.

This man really needs no introduction if you’ve spent anytime reading about saw identification. He most likely has the largest collection of American backsaws in the United States…Phil Baker. I’m sorry I didn’t spend more time talking with him but it was just nice to say hello and thank him for all the great research he’s done. I did learn he’s an avid tennis player and plays almost everyday. Good for you, Phil.

Left: a late start to the AM sales. It's not often you find table setup AFTER sunrise. Right: a possible one of a kind patented saw with removable teeth.

Left: a late start to the AM sales. It’s not often you find table setup AFTER sunrise.
Right: a possible one of a kind patented saw with removable teeth.

So despite the long drive I was there only for a short time, and for those that know me, I’m not much on waiting around for paint to dry. After finding a flat spot it was into the lobby to meet up with friend and co-hoarder of saws, Mike Stemple, for dinner. As it turned out we were joined by a few friends. Mike knows just about everyone in the club so it’s always fun hanging out with him.

sawsDinner was followed by a little show and tell saw-style. Mike and David Latouche both have a wonderful collection of early American makers and really excel at researching history on the makers and also the interrelations between all the makes.

It’s truly a small world when you realize that most of the early makers were transplants from the same area in England. Then after coming to the trained a few future makes that because the seeds for most of the US makers. The scale of the US being so small at that time you’d think it be easy to research makers but do to a lack of good records it can be very slow going. So most of what’s available is advertisement and basic business and tax records.

parkinglotThe threat of bad weather, possible tornadoes or hail, thankfully turned out to be heavy rains overnight. By the morning things had cooled down with just a light drizzle. The rain slowed down the early morning sale but by noon the sun was out and most tables were set up.  For me the boot sales are always my favorite, not just because I resell but also it’s a really great way to meet people and gain a little info. Who doesn’t love finding tools or things and learning about their use or the history that goes along with them?

This being a different region it was interesting to see such different makers as well as lots of farm type equipment. The standard makers like Stanley and Disston were there as well as some makers I don’t tend to find around these parts: E.C Atkins and even a few C.E. Jennings saws and early Philly makers.

Sadly the sales wrapped up early as many members were attending a local tour of the La Porte County Museum and Hesston Steam Museum offered through the club.

Friday was the indoor sale and trade displays. I didn’t get the opportunity to see them but I’m told this year’s were really impressive to say the least. I headed back in the morning and had another thankfully uneventful trip back to the northeast.

Although it was a short trip it was great seeing everyone and making a few new friends. I’m sorry I missed the “friends of Phil Baker” picture that Mike orchestrated and emailed me afterwards. Any saw problem clubs there are I really should be a member of.

As always, if anyone is looking for restoration or sharpening services, I do my best to keep turnaround to less than 2 weeks. I’ve also been trying to post a bit more through my direct site and on ebay  as “buy it now”. I know many of us are not fans of the auction site or auctions and I do my best to balance things so everyone is happy. . .

Cheers and I hope everyone’s summer is going well

Joe F.
Saw Mechanic

TLC sAw Stlye

JohnsonswaxThe summer is here and I hope everyone is enjoying it. Your friend and saw monger has been busy! Finishing up the spring meets in the area, getting things posted for sale, and recently buying a new car! Something at 44 is one of the few firsts left. .

I know the blog posts have been few and far between; excuses, excuses but I’ve had a few requests to talk about TLC saw style. The good news is once they are restored and/or in good condition they don’t require a lot of special care. So with that in mind I thought I’d share a few tips and best practices I follow.

Let’s start with storage. Rule numero uno: Don’t store the blade bent! It’s the best practice you can follow and not really hard to avoid with a little care. Some guys like pegs and others fancy tills. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Pegs lay one handle against another and you may need to dig and shuffle with multiple saws that can lead to dings or drops. Tills are another option and come in all types, designs and complexity. Again the key is the blades aren’t bent while in storage.

Mike Wenzloff once said to me, “Wax is a saw’s best friend,” or as I like to say, “Friction is a bitch.” Either way rust isn’t smooth. If you bought a saw from me it had Johnson’s Paste Wax on it. I average about a tin a year and just finished one a few weeks ago. I can’t give you a number but it’s easily over a hundred plates. The other benefit of wax is rust prevention.  However if you feel wax just dulls all that elbow grease and your goal is shining chrome polish, some aluminum foil followed by a buff with a clean rag works as well. It sounds crazy but talk to anyone who’s restored a bike with pitted chrome and they’ll tell you it works. You may find that fine steel wool works in place of the foil, but I find for rust prevention that wax wins and can still be applied after the polish.

Rust prevention here in the northeast is really the biggest issue. So with that in mind it’s important to recognize most wood has some moisture left and this will significantly cut down on the life of a sharpened saw. One thing I’ve found that helps tremendously is to brush after use. So listen up kids to the Saw Doctor, “Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away!”

sawbrushFun aside, I’d recommend a quick brush off at the end of the day. No need to do it after every use UNLESS it’s a high point dovetail; in that case it can help with a tightly set saw.

I first learned to use a brush when sharpening and once in hand just kept finding great uses for it. It took some searching but I found a US maker that uses “real” bore hair plus a size that works well for cleaning my rasps. If you’re interested, they are for sale on my personal and eBay sites.

Lastly the handle and saw screws…It goes without saying that wood is not indestructible so follow general best practices. Don’t use them as a hammer. Also when cutting with a backsaw pay attention to your depth of cut. Don’t smash the handle into wood trying to get the saw to cut deeper. STOP! Wood does not cut wood well. Reread my blog about saw screws. I find my fair share of broken screws, so easy on the torque, tiger. There’re just defenseless screws.  Lastly feed that wood. Most of you are woodworkers so I’ll leave the finish up to you. Wax is a simple solution; boiled linseed oil is another popular choice. I tend to use shellac and wax as it doesn’t darken the wood or react with other finishes.

Just to recap as I can ramble…

Store saws flat so blades aren’t bent. They can be vertical or horizontal.

Rust prevention is key. Wax, oil or polish all work.

When done using your saw wipe it down and brush loose dust off the tooth line.

Check the handle for play every now and again to see if it needs tightening. If working with a backsaw be mindful of the depth of cut and don’t smack the cheek into your kerf. It’s bad form!

I’m sure a lot more good tips are out there so for sure pass any good ones along and I’ll post for others to enjoy.


The new wagon AKA Sawyer getting a little TLC of it’s own.

Joe Federici AKA the Saw Doctor reminding you:
“If You Ignore Your Teeth, They Will Go Away”