Facelift— saw style

As I’ve pontificated on in the past, one thing that drew me to saw-dom is the interest in repairing older saws and I soon found I rather enjoyed it.  Shortly after, Second Chance Saw Works was formed on that idea.

One area of interest I quickly gravitated to was repairs of backsaws and more specifically replacement of toothed plates. I find many a backsaw is doomed to live a life on the wall because the plate is bent or possibly bowed due to it being knocked on too deeply over the years. I think the size also lends itself better to a small shop like mine. Lastly, a Foley hand saw retoother followed me home at some point, so I already had the ability to tooth plates. Heads up if you’re thinking of buying one, they breed like rabbits and I now have a few of them!

Bows can often be fixed by resetting the plate but kinks in short thin plates often do warrant the time for the positive results one wants, but replacement is a better option.

When I first got started I bought my plate stock precut but ran into long delivery times and issues with getting them cut to a size that worked best for me. More recently a friend and fellow saw collector offered to help cut some with a local stomp shear he had access to. Although I don’t tend to replate a lot, the opportunity to cut my own and reduce shipping and wait time made the investment in inventory worthwhile. I figure I can also offer supplies to others if needed. I would also add that the opportunity to use large ass, dangerous equipment with no sissy OSHA regulations was a bonus.

I use mostly .025 and .032 plate and do find some thinner and thicker, but .025 works for most 1900 saws. The .032 was popular for larger 18″ and also some of the early UK saws.

Once supplies were ordered a time was set to meet up at my friend David’s shop. Being saw collectors we had a quick show and tell. David’s got a wonderful collection of early American and UK saws. I brought a sad but still very historical older Disston that turned out to be a rare No. 14 that was given to me at the NH show by a friend. I felt it was a fair trade for his help, plus it’s now in the proper hands with David.

Once done, saws were put away and we headed over to his friend’s shop. Now I was having a bad camera day and really didn’t end up with anything good but suffice to say this place was cool.

I’ve always been fascinated by metal work and fabrication in general. Like many who enjoyed bikes, I’ve always wanted to weld my own lugged steel frame. It’s on the bucket list for sure. Walking into this darkened metal shop/studio you instantly get the feeling anything IS possible. Immediately you’re presented the distinct boot end of a 60’s era XKE in the process of restoration. While checking it out we dug a little deeper to find a large hydraulic or powered shear. David being used to the environment got down to business locating supplies while my eyes darted around taking it all in.

We had a fixed schedule so I quickly got back to the job at hand. The shear is designed to handle stock much larger and thicker so we rigged up a landing area for what would be mostly 14 x 4 pieces of plate. Next we figured out the best way to feed the uncut roll and got stomping.

  Blued spring steel is sold for many uses at various widths but the sizes I needed are mostly sold for shim stock. We started with rolls of 8″ wide by 10′ long. I mostly wanted 14, 16, and some 18 and 12. The leftovers yielded some 8 as well. When I was buying precut plate, 12″ lengths were commonly cut to 3” that yielded a shallow plate after toothing.  I’d rather start with a 4″ plate, which gives me some flexibility.

When all was done even with a few mix-ups, we cut well over 40 plates that should last me for some time, at a faction of the cost, plus extra width of the plate for a little flexibility. All and all, a productive few hours.

Once done we cleaned up, said our goodbyes and it was back to my shop. Having the plate cut is really only part if the process. Before it can be used it needs to have the blue removed, sanded, polished, as well as toothed.  I’ll leave that process for another time.

Joe Federici
The International Saw Monger of Mystery

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