Older Saw clean up

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    Hello everyone. I am still in my infancy in regards to my woodworking. I am building a collection of user tools (I am sure you all know what a process that can be) and I have recently picked up a few older handsaws. There saws are mostly pre WWII Disston saws and the blades have been sharpened thanks to the awesome video from Paul, however, I find it easier to saw straight when the blade is shiny. What techniques do any of you have to bring a darker/dirtier saw blade back to its original shiny surface? Thanks!

    George Bridgeman

    Hi Sean,

    I’ve done a couple of pretty major clean-ups. I mainly followed the advice here: http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/CiantiM/cleanSawPlate/cleanSawPlate-01.asp

    You can bring it all the way back to super shiny with 0000 wool but it’s nice to leave a bit of patina. If you can’t see an etch but would like to keep it if it is there, make sure to use a sanding block. I found one, albeit very faint, on a previously filthy saw. I managed to bring it back a little with some gun bluer.

    The only advice I’d give, other than what’s on the link, is to always sand along the saw plate – not across it, and go slow.

    Good luck with the restoration. Make sure to come back and post some before and after pics!


    "To know and not do is to not know"


    Great Website! I am about to hit the bench and get my hands dirty.  I appreciate the quick post and I will gwt the before and after pics up.  Thanks!


    As George posted, Matt Cianci’s write-up really helped me get started a lot.  There’s also this perspective from Paul that may be useful: http://paulsellers.com/2012/09/buying-good-tools-cheap-introducing-the-hand-saws/

    Just moved to NE Ohio


    Just used a combination of sander and simple green for my first clean up only about an hour or so work and incredibly impressed I thank all of you guys for the links to articles. Awesome!



    having problems uploading images, oh well, they loof great!


    Sean, I tried using “Metal Rescue” which I had seen several YouTube videos on and I was amazed on how fast it works on old rusty saws and plane blades.  I haven’t tried it on planes yet but it supposed to be safe on paint.  It has saved me tons of time and effort to clean things and it is non-toxic and non-flammable and reusable.   But you really have to watch the time you leave it in the Metal Rescue bath.  If you leave a saw too long, for example, it will start turning black.

    Joseph Sellers


    Sorry you weren’t able to upload the photos. There must be a problem. I will look into it.

    Gary Hodgin

    I restored an old Atkins rip saw a few years ago.  I followed the instructions in the following article.


    Tom Muellner

    I’ve used the electrolytic rust removal procedure with good success on everything from saws to planes to old power tool components. If you Google the term, you’ll find several places that describe how to do it.


    I was just cleaning a saw today that  I picked it up a few weeks ago and didn’t have time to clean.  So before hanging it up in the shed  I wiped it down with a  product that is orange oil and paste wax combined and  just left it heavy on the saw.  This was only to keep it from getting worse before I got around to it (my storage area is a little cool and humidity is very high this time of year).   The first step I take in cleaning a saw is to scrape it down with a blade from a box knife.  This gets the first layers off and is mainly to save on sand paper.  To my amazement the rust came off much easier.  Instead of a crust with the consistency of concrete it had noticeably softened.   I am thinking any oil would do this and that the wax is not necessary.  The only caveat is to wipe down the saw after scraping with something  that will take the oil/wax/rust goo off  so that doesn’t clog the sand paper.  I’ll have to experiment with this a little more.


    I second Tom’s advise. Electrolysis is cheap to set up and very effective. I have cleaned up saws and planes that way with good results.

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