Winchester Saw: Finished

My Winchester No. 16 handsaw has been sitting around waiting for me to do something to it since time began. I’ve had this saw for nearly five years. When I finally decided to do something about it, it was back in March, when I discovered that it was a Winchester:

I didn’t know what to do with it at that point. It’s a mildly rare saw, so one option was to try to sell it for something useful, for example, a pile of Disston D-8s. But the handle was in crap condition, and it had the less-snazzy “Warranted Superior” medallion, so I decided to restore it and keep it as a user. I don’t know when I decided to do that, but it was a long time ago, and as such, I’ve had the blade sitting around, derusted and waxed, waiting for sharpening. I took the handle off, and procrastinated on the refinishing.

About three weeks ago, I decided to do something about it. I finished today:

The saw was filed to 6TPI. That’s pretty coarse for a crosscut saw, so I was originally going to make this a ripsaw to replace my beat-up D-7. However, the handle has that funny notch on the top that would make ripping uncomfortable with two hands, so I figured decided that this would, in fact, remain a crosscut saw. The rake angle is 15 degrees, with the fleam angle at 20 degrees. I had initially filed a 20-degree rake angle, but I screwed up pointing it (of course), so on my second try, I decided that since it was so coarse that I should make it a little more aggressive. It was probably a good idea; it does saw very efficiently. The cut is fairly clean for 6TPI.

I spent about a million years refinishing the handle. It was dented, nicked, and beat up. This photo also shows how the top horn was mangled:

The first thing I did (several months ago) was strip the original finish. At the same time, I cleaned the sawnuts:

And then it sat. And sat. And sat, until about three weeks ago. Even after stripping the original finish, it was still really uneven, so I sanded around the curved parts. For the flat parts, I just skimmed it with a smoothing plane. At this time, I also learned what the wood in the handle was for the first time–American Beech (fagus grandfolia). OK, well, that’s not a big surprise.

Then there were decisions. Should I stain it? With what? I finally settled on few thin coats of a “Colonial Maple” pigment stain. I used a washcoat beforehand. Though it would result in accented nicks and dents, it would even out the flat parts, and who’s going to try to hide the fact that this saw hasn’t been used, anyway?

Finally, I decided to use the same flat-sheen polyurethane that I used on the mallet as a protective top layer. I went from a thin coat to thicker coats, then back down to thin coats for the final one. Several coats were necessary, because the varnish would run down the surfaces that were vertical, depending on the way you held the handle. I did the first coats with the handle held upright, then the later ones held flat. A close-up of the finished handle:

I used a progression of 320 grit sandpaper, #0000 steel wool, 1500 grit sandpaper, and rottenstone, all lubricated with mineral oil, to rub out the finish. There’s still a scratch here and there from the coarse-grit paper (because polyurethane is tough), but overall, it looks nice, and it’s very smooth to the touch.

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