The perfect 4th—tools, food, and friends

You might remember the William incident a few posts ago and if so, you know Will and I enjoy talking tools and just hanging around in parking lots crazy early in the morning, looking at stuff in the dark. Wait, that sound a little strange? Anyway, the last time we met in April I was invited to his family’s camp in Maine over the 4th for a lobster bake.

Now just to clarify, “camp” can mean different things in different regions of the US. Near me we’d say shore house but in some areas a camp can be quite primitive which this was not. As someone who enjoys utilitarian designs, shore or camps maximize space very well. This one, if I remember correctly, was made around the 20’s with a few add-ons but retained that New England, clapboard feel.

So I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The trip really started with my Dieselgate buyback and replacement Alltrack. Next I put my trusty 10 year old Thule bars on and strapped on my NDK kayak. Then after a short day I hit the road, not forgetting a saw for Mr. Will.

The Alltrack made the long trip smoothly, thanks to a mid-day start. New England holiday traffic didn’t get bad till the end of the trip, arriving at the Height hippy House just in time for dinner. After a quick bite I got the tour and spent the rest of my time, where else?

Checking out the shop and new addition on back, plus a few newly acquired tools, I HAND delivered (friendship has it’s privileges) a freshly sharpened Disston No 7, 6-1/2 point, a very rare pitch. I’ve only see a few in my travels and the saw was part of a collection we split in the spring, including a few unusual Disston made hardware store saws. I’ve posted a few pics on my Instagram account: Second Chance Saw works.

With the new saw in hand, test cuts were needed and fun was had. Vertical cuts with a 26” panel saw in a small vise can be a little tricky but it was clear the saw was not the issue, as Will made short work of it. While I flubbed a few cuts getting a smooth start, it was decided his little shop needs a saw bench for guests! I Editors Note: The saw Will is using is not the saw in question but a D8 that I had sharpened for him last year.

The next day we loaded up a few provisions (beer and wine) and continued north to the summer camp on the ocean. His family smartly decided to take a different vehicle knowing birds of feather flock together. Will and I took the back roads and hit a few tool places, the biggest being Liberty Tool Co. Liberty’s been on my bucket list and although I didn’t buy anything it was well worth a stop in the one horse town of Liberty. The store is what you’d expect in a used tool shop, piles of tools including barrels of worksaws and shelves of books as far as the eye can see! The 3 floors plus basement were packed.

After a healthy stop we hit the road again. They have 3 locations, so we also stopped by Captain Tinkham’s Emporium . By now we needed to make time so we could get to the camp and meet up with the family, who left 5 hours after us and finished the 3 hour trip before us. My only excuse is we needed to stop for beer and wine. Driving the back roads of Maine is beautiful so losing time really is no trouble.

The rest of the weekend was just shear bliss: sun, good food, and fun conversation. Although we didn’t do any tool hunting once at the camp, Will ‘s mom is also a collector of many vintage things including tools, filling the house with many items to look at.

Now it’s important to know, while saws and sharpening take up a good deal of my time, I also enjoy other hobbies including kayaking. With all that was going on the week before this trip, I had considered forgoing traveling 500 miles with a 17’ fiberglass kayak on the roof. I was so glad Will had talked me into it. Not 20 minutes after pulling in, I was pushing off into the water for a quick trip across the bay to Seagull Island. The paddling conditions were really nice. We had one night of rain but otherwise low wind and calm conditions.

It was a long weekend but not nearly enough time to really enjoy all the views and the area in general. On Sunday we enjoyed their annual lobster bake with super fresh lobster caught the day before. The weather cooperated so we could eat by the sea.

The following day I took one last early morning paddle before everyone chipped in to get things cleaned up, followed by lobster rolls made with the leftovers. I’ll tell you this, Maine camp life sure is a good one!

Sadly it was time to put the kayak back on the roof and shove off. Being a couple of tool guys, we fit in a pit stop at the Fairfield Antiques Mall . The rest of the trip was uneventful and tool-less which is how I like it when making long trips. I did end up getting a rather nice scythe as a parting gift from Will which I look forward to learning to sharpen and using at my house.

That’s it for now. Hopefully make it over to the Disston plant in the next few days with some updated pics.

Joe Federici AKA Purveyor of saw goodness

watery view of Keystone Saw Works

Some of you might be aware another love of mine is kayaking. Mostly white water but not having any close I also paddle the Delaware river near Philadelphia.

You know what else is in Philly. Keystone Saw Work!

It’s mostly knocked down at this point but one of the big stacks and a few buildings still remain. Mos is currently used for commercial fleet stores and what looks like a junkyard but redevelopment will have its way at some point. I’ll get some pic from land in the next few weeks but till then enjoy a view most never see.

As seen today from Google maps. The area in the pics is marked in red

What’s great about these water view is you can check out the bulkhead made from discarded grinding stones. I really can’t give you much information on the stones and how old they are be but looking at the wood and nails used give some clues. I’d love to year some thoughts so please contact me if you have info.

If you reference the google map image, I’ve posted pics from left to right. The large stack in my pictures is located right about where “Majestic Sports” is marked on the map.

These are take at low tide so you get a good view of the stones.

Most of the buildings are in not so great shape.

I’ll make some time in the coming weeks to take a few pics of what remains of the grounds. Philly has a few Disston plaques and parks in the area.

Till then enjoy the 4th!

Joe F
Saw Mechanic

 

 

 

John Porritt, a collection of details — Windsor & Stick chairs

Although I don’t make many Crafts (tool collectors) of New Jersey meetings, my good friend John Porritt was scheduled to speak about Windsor and stick chairs. With the distance we live from each other, this made for an easy trip to catch up.

The craft monthly meets start off with a boot sale. The weather was a little overcast but not bad. About a dozen people set up. Recently I took down a large red oak in the backyard and was now looking for a few additional metal wedges; you can never have enough when splitting a big wheel.

Around 1 we moved inside for the talk that was less a chronological history and more a free flowing talk on a dozen or so chairs that John had brought with the help of Jim Bode. They ranged in age from1740 to the present and in condition, as John is skilled in the ways of restoration, as you many have read in my other posts about him.

Now just being honest, I do love some vintage tools, but my furniture likes are more in the Frits Henningsen or Peter Hiort Lorenzen, aka Danish modern world than classic English and Welsh.

John however has a great way of seeing past the obvious and finding the subtler details easily missed at first glance. Mix that with a strong knowledge of wood and furniture construction and even a mid-century geek can find common ground.

John bounced around the room pulling chairs from the tables, pointing out details and/or repairs that might be needed or had been made in the past. With a group like Craft you have a wide variety of woodworkers and John answered questions as he worked through the chairs.

After about hour it was time for me to head home. Craft is a bit of drive for me so it was good to see a few members I’ve done work for in the past and to catch up with John. He’s admittedly not a child of the internet but if you reach out to me I’d be happy to put you in contact. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many of his repairs, restorations, and chairs. I happily recommend him to anyone in the market looking for help with a restoration. His skills and technique in the field are not something you’ll find on Youtube.

And with that I’m off to the bench to get some saws ready for market.

Joe F. AKA the saw Monger

The Disston MashUp — No. 76 “Centennial”

The Disston No. 76 “Centennial” handsaw was introduced in 1876. Although it isn’t super rare, I’ve only come across one in my travels, hitting a good deal of markets and barns alike.

So what’s the deal with this mash-up? As you might imagine, it was released to celebrate the Centennial and rather than a new design, Henry took some features from the current line to create a one-off limited run.

The tell-tale skewed backplate is from the D8 or the short lived No. 80 Choice. The handle is from the larger 28” No. 7 cut from apple rather than beechwood. The larger 28” No. 7’s used a rounded top hook along with a larger recessed handle that accommodated a two-handed grip for rip cuts. The lower placement of the label screw is borrowed from the new No. 16.

I was interested to see if it would feel more like a 7 or 8 when cutting and agree with Disstonian. The plate shape is much like the D8; however the hand position is farther behind the cutting edge like the No. 7’s. This made it feel more like a No. 7 than a D8. I’m 5’8” so a 28” saw is a bit more then I would tempt to use but it tracked well and I was very happy with it. Most of the references I could find were for rip saws and I think it was only offered in the larger sized handle.

The one I sharpened and sold was early in the run before the Glover patent was used. The No. 76 was produced till the 1920s and like most Disston saws the later model handles may have switched wood and made the hand shape slightly boxier.

That’s it for now. Have a good Holiday and please check out my ebay site for other interesting saws. I try not to push sales here but Papi’s got bills!

Joe Federici
Purveyor of saw goodness

 

 

 

The William Incident—Tool Karma

Since we’ve established the saw advocate (AKA me!) hasn’t been blogging much, I’ll provide a quick synopsis. About 2 years ago I relocated from North Jersey to the burbs just outside Philly. In doing so I moved from a one bedroom to a house that needs some TLC and updating. It’s been mostly positive except for the loss of free time.

That said, I still hit a few local estate sales, auctions, and Mid-West Tool events. Of these the spring & fall MJD auctions in NH are a must. Over the years I’ve made friends with a group of buyer/sellers in the parking lot and we set up next to each other. The mornings are fast paced but by afternoon we’re thick as thieves.

The parking lots fill up year after year not just because people are looking to buy or sell, or the allure of finding the diamond in the rough, but to catch up with like-minded friends, to hear stories of barn finds and what the kids are up to. Sprinkle in a little tool history, rubbing elbows with the parking lot bully, AKA Patrick Leach, who thinks he has divine right to all tools, a few beers, dinners bull shitting, and it’s a fun time I look forward to each year.

Now onto what I’ve dubbed the “Will Incident”. Parking lot picking is all good and fun and honestly, some like Patrick make it more of a physical sport, most of us just take the high road. Josh, of the infamous hyper kitten tool co, once said to me, “There will always be more tools,” or something to that effect. So when I find myself wrapped up elbows deep, ready to pull tools out of someone’s trunk before he’s parked, flashlight in hand, leveraging my body to block off others, I stop and remember this is all for fun.

So now that I’ve set the stage for the high paced, fast moving world of tool picking, I’ll continue with the “Will Incident”. Around mid-day, after the morning rush of sellers showed up, a car pulled in with NY plates. I walked over to do a cursory check for saws. Patrick on cue, seeing me, quickly asks, “Do you have any saws?” Knowing that if he goes through them quickly he can take time on the rest. The seller Chris said yes and points out a till. Patrick opens the box and looking down at the handles from the top proclaims, “I can tell from the handles none of are interest.”

At this point he turns and walks away. I talk with Chris a bit. Similar story to all of us, he buys and sells a bit. These are some he had been holding for a bit and was now looking to clean out space. I first notice the till. It’s nicely built, hand dovetails, missing the front latch, with steel hardware on the side. It’s a good size.

Realizing it won’t be long before the rest of pack finds this latecomer I get looking. I quickly find a few really nice ones, Patrick and his magical eyes missed. I pull four panel saws out of the till, Disston No 7, two D8s, No 12, and a No 9 made for HS hardware in NY. That last one is one I’d never seem. Most of the HS hardware saws are No 7s or No 4 Backsaw.

I pay Chis and ask if the box is for sale. Chris says not at this time; it’s holding the saws but maybe tomorrow. So I happily take my winnings back to show my friend Will and tell the tale of the fish that got away from Patrick. I also said let me show you this till; it’s a good looking one and I’m going to see tomorrow if he wants to sell it.

An hour or so go by and Will and I do a walk around to check out any price drops. I point out the box to Will who quickly asks if it’s for sale. Chris says, “Wow, this is a popular box but no it’s not for sale at this time.” I pointed out to my friend “Mr William” I was interested in the box. Now just to keep the story going I’ll fast forward to the next day. Most vendors drop the price on stuff and Chris still had a few good user saws so I walked over to relook things over. I decided to pass as I was hoping to bid on a few auctions. As I’m looking at a cute 16” No 7 that had the slightest bend in it, agonizing as I often do, knowing the bend won’t affect the cut but explaining that to the common ebay buyer is impossible. I look up and Mr William says, “I’ll offer you 40.00 for the box,” and just like that’s it’s sold out from under me. What? What just happened?? I had a plan and was just about to field an offer. I’m crushed, hurt, angry, bummed. How could my former friend and tablemate in sales do this?! And what could be worse you ask? I’ll tell you. To be asked to help carry said box back to his car!

Now let me stop and say: hopefully you know at this point it was all in jest. Will is a very good guy and friend. The grilling he took the rest of the weekend far outweighs the worth of the box or my need to own it. In fact, I’ve paid an old Italian woman to curse the box so any tools inside will turn useless, parts will go missing and all will rust.

So I was so busy giving  Will a ribbing I forgot to take a pic. of the box. I did request one but that request was denied. Editors Note: picture was added after this was published

I should also point out I did a very similar thing to a friend last year over a Richardson Brothers No 7 panel saw. A friend asked me to look it over; I did, then asked how much, and said I’ll take it. I was thinking he was pointing it out to me rather then asking my opinion. Karma can be a bitch and when the tank runs dry things are bound to happen. The William incident is the tool gods’ setting the scale right along with Patrick’s oversight of the 4 saws.

The rest of the weekend was spent in the auction. I normally buy a few saws on Friday in the Auction and this year won 2 nice Disston Hardware etched saws. The rest I haggled for in the parking lot.

Thus ends another spring auction and I look forward to seeing my New England friends in the fall.

Karma tank restored. . .

The saw Monger

I’m back, baby!

Okay, it’s been more then a few months (read years) since you’ve read the rambling of the saw Monger and said— this is the reason for standardized testing in public schools. . . but you know you miss me! And I’m back baby.

I’ll start with something positive, I hope the 5 of you reading this, most likely family, are doing well

Now onto the reason fro writing. I changed the Second Chance saw works Site to a new provider while I sort out getting both the blog and sales sites merged. I’m no web master so it could be a wile and till then if you plug in www.secondchancesawworks.com you will be redirected to the blog. The ebay site remains untouched.

Lastly for those into social media in addition to this blog, (which I will be updating more often) I have a facebook and instagram account. So that’s it for now but I just returned from NH and will be writing about the trip and I’m sure other stuff as well. Till then.

Cheers
The Saw Monger.

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

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&Jhandle

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