Restoring Maatsuyker #59

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I received a bunch of old saws from Matt that should be able to be reconditioned and put back into use. My most pressing need is for a little dovetail saw, so #59 got the treatment first.

The name? Well it was through Matt’s efforts they came to be here, and Maatsuyker Island group is just a little south of home, making it a good name for the group of saws.

Day 1

To kick things off, I removed the handles last night. There were some winners and some loosers. Perhaps there is a trick to it, but some of the saw bolts appear to be a one way press fit, and no amount of persuasion could dislodge them. Those were the loosers, for which new handles will need to be made… perhaps they’ll be the winners after all.

Once they were handle less, I prepared a nice relaxing vinegar bath for them, given their long journey the day before I thought they would appreciate it.

That didn’t take long at all, so thought I’d start cleaning up the #59’s handle, as it appeared to be in reasonable condition. Starting with 80 grit sand paper, and worked my way up to 240. Then two coats of shellac before calling it a night.

As an aside, this is the first saw handle I’ve worked on since building my new bench. What an improvement it was to have an end vice where I would work at 90º to the vice. And the front vice makes a conventient camera holder

Last night the cat slept on our bed and chose to hog all of my space. As such, I didn’t sleep well and am now tired. I wasn’t proving very productive in the office this morning to decided to cut my losses and head downstairs into the workshop for a spell.

I removed each saw plate and gave it a scrub with a piece of timber to remove what rust had already loosened, and returned it to the bath for another day. Still not feeling up to work, I gave #59’s handle a rub down with 0000 steel wool and a coat of wax followed by a final buffing.

Day 2

Today was a workshop day. I was really hoping to get Maatsuyker #59 as close to done as I could.

First things first, I removed the saw plate from the vinegar bath and gave it a good flush with water, whilst rubbing off the last bits of rust. Just to demonstrate how well the vinegar works, I was wearing disposable blue gloves, and was able to rub the rust off with my gloved finger without damaging the glove.

Once it was flushed, I marked the saw plate where it would need to be cut, then shot up to the local Men’s Shed as soon as they opened at 9am where I cut it on the guillotine. Very fast, easy and accurate. In fact it took me more time to sign in and out of the shed than cut the plate.

Then back home again (the shed is only a five minute drive away) where I gave it a once over with a several grits of wet and dry to remove the gray patina which was left from the vinegar bath.

To cut the teeth into the plate this time, I thought I would follow the method suggested by Paul and Ian, and very well demonstrated by Bob Rozaieski. This is certainly my now preferred method rather than creating a timber template as I’ve always done in the past.

I downloaded the 15 TPI template from Blackburn Tools, which I printed and folded over my plate. I have some needle files that my Dad gave me many moons ago. They don’t often get used, but it’s nice to know they’re there when I need them. I selected a flat profiled oval file and transferred the paper lines to the saw plate.

It was time to break out one of my new Bahco files and get busy creating the teeth. In the past, to maintain a constant angle of the file, I’ve added a piece of wood to the top of the file which it the level. For whatever reason, it’s always been hard to intuitively feel “level” with that, so thought I’d try something different this time. I had forgotten I don’t have a file handle handy, so quickly whipped one up, but planed a bit flat top on one edge in the expectation that my right hand would “feel level” and maintain a consistent angle. The good news is that it worked remarkably well. Certainly the most consistent result I’ve had to date. Or perhaps it’s just one more saw’s worth of practice. Regardless the result was great.

With the new teeth cut, it was time to set them. I still have Adam’s saw set (thanks Adam) in my workshop, so it was easy. I used to smallest setting.

It was then time to put the back back on. There was a kink in the plate afterwards but fortunately I had read an old post by Rob Steeper yesterday about tensioning backsaw plates, so was able to get it resolved simply.

And that moment I had been waiting for all day. Re-mounting the handle and taking it for a test run.

To say I was excited, thrilled and very happy would be an understatement. I even ran inside and got my wife to come out and make some test cuts. It just cuts so well. I am really pleased with how my tooth cutting and sharpening has progressed. This saw starts easily, saws effortlessly and tracks dead straight. I compared it to my tenon saw which was my first effort about nine months ago, and the difference was night and day. This saw also cross cuts very smoothly, which I was not expecting.

When comparing the cut to my tenon saw, I noted that the kerf on this saw is super thin. On measuring, it showed a 0.45 mm plate and 0.69 mm kerf.

After cutting and cutting and cutting, my wife started laughing at me. “After you went to all that effort, you’re just bluntening it for no reason now.” But I didn’t care. It is a thing of beauty, with a cut that’s stunning.

With that, I’m calling Maatsuyker #59 done.


November 2019

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