Disston handle onto new S&J handsaw?

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    Andrew Sinclair

    So I’ve got 4 Disston and two new 22″ S&J handsaws. The Disstons have lovely handles, and the S&J’s have lovely blades … a match made in heaven? Or an unholy alliance creating a frankensaw?!

    Of the Disstons, the three Philada ones all have various dents and kinks, and the more recent Disston USA one seems to be made of steel crossed with butter: easy to sharpen but blunts at the first sniff of timber, even plantation pine.

    The S&Js cut like a dream especially now I’ve wiped off the silly lacquer with meths and replaced with 3 in 1 oil. But the handles are uncomfortable and too large.

    I guess I am inspired by Paul’s recent blog on a Groves handle on an S&J tenon saw to try the same in the handsaw world. Part of the temptation is storage: ie reducing my 6 imperfect saws to 3 near-perfect ones (the 26″ Disston works ok despite its dents). I’m just hesitating due to the irreversibility of getting the sawnuts off the S&Js.

    What do people think? Any ideas how hard it’ll be to get the handle to fit wobblefree? Will I rot in hell for destroying the history?


    Larry Geib

    Oh, you may rot in hell, but probably not for messing with a couple of wonky saws.

    Tools that feel good and work well are more likely to survive, and fifty years from now will be interesting history. So go for it. The likelihood you are ruining some priceless museum piece are infinitesimal.

    As to problems, the only ones I see are plate thickness being compatible with the saw kerf in the handle and holes matching up. Worst case is you have to shorten the plate a little to get fresh purchase. As to the sawnuts, that’s always a risk, but you have 6 sets.

    Dave Ring

    Saw steel is hard and will eat up your drill bits unless you anneal the S&J plates or use a carbide bit. It might be easier to either make new handles or straighten the Disstons.


    Andrew Sinclair

    Thanks Larry and Dave.

    I’m now pretty keen to try this, partly because I’ve realised it’s non destructive as far as the Disston’s go, and the S&Js are replaceable.

    Thanks to Dave’s observation about plate hardness I’ve held off until I can get a special drill bit; I’ll update this thread if I make any progress …


    Paul has written a blog on lumberjocks about reshaping the handling instead of completely replacing it. Worth a read, as it is a viable option for newer saws with ugly handles. http://lumberjocks.com/projects/48683

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