I have been collecting old panel saws for a while. Some are in decent shape and only need a sharpen, some have bad rust and hard bends in the saw plate. In this endeavor, no saw will go untreated. I tried to straighten when possible, but a shortening happens. Check out these work horses of american history.
They have seen better days, and the one in the middle has some serious bend to it. Still, all indications are that the age of these saws is pre-WW2. That was a golden era of saws where you probably can’t go wrong with anything you find. I started by removing the handles and ran into my first serious snag.
Someone had lost all the split nuts and decided to replace them with wood screws. Based on the screws it was probably a number of decades ago. They were screwed or pounded in, then had the tips bent over. After a lot of messing around with pliers and cutters I eventually grabbed a hack saw and sawed the screw off between the plate and handle.
Next the saw plates went into a shallow tub with Evapo-Rust. I found that one of those under-bed storage containers was perfect. Once again this stuff is amazing. It works pretty well over night, but there appear to be no ill effects from leaving it longer.
After their bath they look almost black. I tried a few different techniques and found spraying down the blade with WD-40, then scrubbing with a sanding sponge did the best. A 220 grit 3M sandblaster sanding sponge did a fantastic job. It holds together really well under wet conditions, even with the saw teeth raking it, it doesn’t get loaded, and it cut through the grime quickly. Each side took less than a minute to clean. I have never used sanding sponges, but I can see why they are popular. This poor plate had to get cut down a bit, but I saved the cutoff for use as scratch stock and tools.
The handles were mostly in decent shape. Lots of scratches, and small breaks from getting dropped. The finish was stripped off with a corse sanding sponge. Again these sanding sponges surprise me. They do a really great job of adapting to all the handle contours. Once smoothed and cleaned up I rubbed a coat of boiled linseed oil on each one and let it dry. Everything went back together quickly. The tall saw had to get a new set of hardware. Luckily my local Ace had brass plated binding post hardware. Not exactly authentic, but it is a huge improvement over the wood screws the last guy used.
Sharpening is the next step. I have everything I need, but my table is covered in saw rebuilding stuff. I will keep the refurb train going until they are all done, then convert over to sharpening. In the mean time I need to come up with a good measure for saw sharpness. Maybe some time trials are in order.