Filling a hole in my saw nest: Rehabbing a panel saw and converting it to rip

I saw a lot of boards in my vise. I also “stub” the toes of my long, 26″ hand saws while using them with my saw bench. The bench is the appropriate height for the knee of a 5′ 6″ tall galoot. But unfortunately it’s a bit short for my full-sized saws.

Long-story-short, I’ve been on the lookout for a panel rip saw.

Ask and ye shall receive

Fortunately, I came across one while visiting family in Arizona.  I found St. James Bay Tool Company on the net (mere miles away)…and subsequently the Warranted Superior 22″, 7 ppi saw picture below as found.

It was reasonably priced and while my saw sharpening skills are still at the beginner level, I knew I could convert it from a crosscut to rip tooth configuration. I knew this because Bob Rozaieski, of Logan Cabinet Shoppe  fame [check out his how-to videos and articles—a true artisan], gave me some good tips. I asked him if I could buy a vintage Disston 7 or 8 ppi saw and convert the crosscut filing to a rip filing.

His reply:

“What you are thinking about is a great way to get yourself a finer point rip saw. It’s very easy to refile a crosscut saw to a rip profile (or vise versa). You will have to joint and refile several times to get the entire tooth profile changed, but it’s not that much work.

Just joint down about 1/3 of the tooth height, reshape to a rip profile, joint 1/3 of the height again, refile, etc. until the teeth are completely reshaped. Then set, rejoint and sharpen. I’ve done this countless times, especially with old backsaws, which are often filed crosscut. The process is no different for larger saws.”

Rehabbing the latest addition to the nest
My rehab consisted of the usual steps you can read about elsewhere. There were a couple of twists though.

First, I built myself a tub to soak the plate in Evaporust. The “miracle” in a bottle has become my go to potion to banish rust. But saw plates are very long and a bit wide. After pricing plexiglass and alternative materials at the big-box store (damn that stuff is expensive) I opted to make my own container.

It consists of a 2×8 base with ½” poplar scraps to act as edges. At one end I fitted the edge tightly but did not affix it to the base. This allows me to adjust the length of the tub to suit any size of saw plate…and hence minimize the amount of Evaporust I have to use at any one soaking. I use a garbage bag to line it, being very careful to gingerly lower the toothline into the bath so as not to puncture the lining.

Here’s the saw plate after the Evaporust bath and sanding/polishing.

Too smart for my own good
To get some crud off the handle, I tried a new product, Goof Off. Oh, it got the crud off alright…plus the original finish I had originally intended to keep. So I opted to refinish the whole handle by sanding it.

Enter my baby-smooth formula for handles. Sand using 150, 220, 320, 400 grits, then buff the wood on a bench grinder—no rouge. For the hard-to-reach inner handle surfaces I used a Dremel equipped with a tiny buffing wheel.

Now there were some hard to reach places along the top and bottom edges. So I used my spanking new (last year) scraper to treat those areas—and it worked very well. I got that idea while watching Jameel Abraham finish the tote of his Winter Smoother plane. If you haven’t watched Jameel’s video series of him building this plane, it’s FASCINATING and well worth checking it out.

This panel saw sports a wheat-design handle. I’ve never restored one of those before. There were some original stalks that were missing from the back end of the handle after I sanded it. My solution was to use a dental pic to “carve” thin stalks.

Before God I tell you my solution sucked. There’s nothing like looking at obviously ham-handed wheat stalks to motivate you to add a good carving class to your schedule.

When I first learned to sharpen, the concept of shaping teeth after jointing escaped me. But after corresponding with Matt over at The Saw Blog, it made sense. So I aggressively jointed the saw (it needed it badly), and proceeded to shape/sharpen the teeth. Because the shaping and sharpening added no fleam, the crosscut saw was converted to a rip configuration.

Here’s the after rehab money shots:

I had to rip some ¼” plywood to serve as dividers on the bench appliance till I built…and this saw cuts like a dream. It tracks straight, cuts quickly and leaves a fine finish. But best of all, it fits my hand well.

An added bonus, I hope is that the toe-stubbing of ripping days past are long gone.

Happy rehabbing!


About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
This entry was posted in Saws, Sharpening, vintage tools and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Filling a hole in my saw nest: Rehabbing a panel saw and converting it to rip

  1. Nice looking hole filler you ended up with. How does it eat a pencil line?

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