Saw Monger in Motion

So just a note to say: YES I missed my update that I normally do on Sunday’s or Monday. Well we vandwellers can’t be help to a schedule as most of us don’t own a watch. That said I had a great trip. Looked at and bought lots of saws, meet up with friends and enjoyed myself on the road. More to come shortly.


Joe Federici
Saw Monger in Motion

The Monger in Motion

Left picture of the group. Right me running pillow rapid. Raft Co take picture to sell back to commercial rafter and private boaters.

I had a great time in WV for the first weekend of the Gauley release.  September in WV is the reverse of March in NJ.  Comes in like a lamb and leaves like lion, and we had near perfect conditions with some rain on Saturday thru midday.

I did pack my camera, sadly with a dead battery, but forgot the charger.  I boat with a great group of friends, but netted one picture between all of them.  Pictorial historians they are not.

Getting home late for me, 1:30 AM, then scrambling Monday to get saws packed and off to the post office set the tone for the week.  I’ve been busy with my day job and whispering to saws at night.  Happily, the sharpening end of the business has picked up.  As a new card carrying member of North American Vintage Tool Monger Association, or NAVTMA, I’m working double time to keep turnaround at a minimum, often shipping back in the same week.  So thank you to those that continue to send in stuff for me to ogle.

Next week is another busy one for the Monger.  It’s a mash-up of work and hobbies.  I’m leaving Wednesday after work and driving to New Hampshire for the MJ Donnelly fall auction.  I’m mostly interested in the tailgate that runs through Saturday.

Friday Tailgate at Nashua Spring 2012

Due to my regular job, my plan consists of getting there late Wednesday, then getting up crazy early with the rest of the fools.  Thankfully for me, having a stove next to you, aka my VW camper, eases the pain.  I’ll be the only one with coffee in hand while walking with flashlights.  It’s a real sight to see grown men run across a parking lot to the boot of a car as someone pulls a table out.  I’m sure a grad student could find some interesting research but I digress.

From the turning trees of New Hampshire I’ll head southwest to Watkins Glen State Park in the Empire State to rendezvous with a group of VW vandwellers at Westies at Watkins.  The gathering is in its 11th year and becomes the fall destination for most vandwellers in the northeast.  Good turnouts number around 50 vans and drivers coming from Canada push the numbers north.  The short two days I’m there are mostly spent catching up with fellow friends, talking all things VW, and hiking the surrounding gorges.  Did you know Ithaca is gorges?

By this point most would throw in the towel but not us Mongers!  Monday I’ll head towards Rochester to meet up with a local collector to look over some saws he’s hoping to sell, and with a little luck I’ll meet up with my roommate from college for lunch before heading back home.

Round trip just under 1,000 and 18 hours of driving. I guess it goes without saying, “I love a good road trip!”

And in keeping with the circle of life theme this 16 inch Robert Sorby is in deck for a full Resto-Saw process. more shortly . . .

Joe Federici
Saw wrangler-at-large


Calgon take me away!

The Monger is calling it a short week and heading to the Gauley River in West Virginia. It’s become an annual pilgrimage to one of the best rivers in the US that only release for a short time in the fall.  So knowing my mind would be on all things rocky and wet I’ve pre-blogged and with any luck you’re reading it.

The first time I read about wood bleach it was suggested as a solution for aged dirty wooden folding rulers.  I guess I filed that bit of trivia away till I started restoring hand saws and a friend was looking for a solution to some oil stains on a backsaw.  I passed along the tip and he had wonderful results.

Since then I’ve used it quite a bit both to lighten weathered, darkened handles and to deal with local stains. The use is quite straight forward but I’ll offer up some suggestions.

Wood bleach or oxalic acid sold under a few brands  and the box in the picture is from my local hardware store but a quick google search will show its readily available.

Read the label for any warning.  I’m not a chemist or a health expert, but I wear gloves when working with it; use your best judgment.

Depending on your needs you can mix small batches in a plastic cup or larger ones in a bowl.  I use an old plastic tupperware container and brush for application.  Again follow directions but I’ve found 2 tablespoons to 8 ounces of hot water works best.  Double if you need to submerge the handle and use a rock to hold it down.

Most wood I find reacts in a few seconds.  I leave it on for a minute or so, wipe off, reapply if need be.  Once happy, rinse with water and let dry.  I’ve tried with mixed results to reapply after drying.  Some woods will lighten a little more but the first treatment has the biggest effect.

If your issue is a local spot like in my picture, I find it helps to “wet out” the wood with water before applying the bleach.  This allows a more even application over dry wood.  Once done, wash with water and let dry.

My pictures aren’t the best (we’ve had a lot of rain this week) but you can see the results on this Disston No. 12.

The last and best piece of advice, experiment first!

Saw advocate – at large
Joe Federici

New life for an old set

Every good Saw-Monger knows the key to a good set is not just the tool or the settings, but rather it’s the consistency of pressure applied to each tooth.  A big part of that I’ve found is the tension created by the two springs inside.  Weak springs require a death grip and that may work for the first few teeth but by the return trip back your pressure will be half what it was.

If the set has little use, you’re fine, but keep in mind the Stanley 42X was produced between1929 to 1950 and to this day remains the most popular set made.  So even if you got the last one to roll off the assembly line, you’re still looking at 60+ years old.  Now take into consideration that most have seen many years of service and still hold a high value to this day due to their popularity, you can see where I’m going; fixing rather than replacing is the wise choice.
This seems simple enough.  One of the selling points is the ability to remove the anvil die.  Once apart, the springs are right there; so all you need to do is to replace with a new set.  I’ll save you a lot of time, as I drove to about a dozen hardware stores and searched Google to death before deciding to bite the bullet and contact a local (US) spring manufacturer, Murphy & Read Spring Manufacturing Co about making replacement springs, based on measurements taken from a good 42X’s plus a little to compensate for age.  Murphy & Read Spring Manufacturing Co. was established by Alexander Murphy and John Read in 1917 and located in Philadelphia, PA.  Read was trained as a locksmith in England but was unable to find work in his native country.  He immigrated to America as an indentured servant to a butcher.  He later met Murphy, also a locksmith, and they started a small service company specializing in locks, keys, and springs.  In talking to them, it’s quite possible with their proximity to Disston, they may have produced springs for them and Stanley in Connecticut.

The production time was about 3 weeks and, although I’m no expert on springs, the consistency and finish seem excellent to me.  I’ve been working with them for about a month now and can happily report they are working perfectly.  For someone like me who potentially can be setting 5 or 8 saws a week, it’s a lifesaver, or maybe in this case, a hand saver.  Plus, considering the cost of a replacement vintage 42x, the springs are way cheaper.  If interested in getting a set, I have them for sale on both my site, and ebay.

a few pics of the finish springs.

Joe Federici
Saw Advocate