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Thread: Wood Species for Hand Saw

  1. #1
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    Wood Species for Hand Saw

    Any suggestions for species of wood to make a new handle for a western hand saw?
    Regards,

    Kris

  2. #2
    A dense, closed grained hardwood would be my suggestion. Apple was common for saws back in the day. Maple, beech, and cherry would probably work and are more readily available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kris Cook View Post
    Any suggestions for species of wood to make a new handle for a western hand saw?
    What hardwoods do you have available?

    Black walnut would look nice but the pores may be too open for a comfortable grip. Apple is nice but hard to come by. Ash or beech would also be decent if you like a light colored wood. Rosewood is another great wood but also hard to find and may have problems if you want to cross international borders.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    I recommend beech. Beech's asset is that it absorbs shock and vibration, so that it is more comfortable to use. If you saw a lot you can feel the difference. Apple and pear are also good in this regard. Soft maple also. Ash absorbs shock, which is why it was used for baseball bats, but I think it is too coarse grained for a handle.

    Hard maple, African blackwood, rosewood and the like transmit the shock to your hand. Pretty but not comfortable.

    Walnut is quite variable in density; some material would be suitable. Cherry tends to soften as it ages so details on the handle would be vulnerable in time.

  5. #5
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    Thanks all for the responses. I will look at the Walnut I have and see if it might work. That would be a big piece of Apple wood. I will also look into the Beech, I have always wanted to work with Beech. I also have some Maple that could work.

    Jim - I always enjoy reading your salutation. I recently finished the 3 volume set Winston Churchill biography by William Manchester. I never really understood nor had an appreciation for the impact Churchill made on the 20th century. I got started on the Churchill kick by reading "Hero of the Empire" loaned to me by my neighbor. That started me on a quest which involved several other books and culminated with the 3 volume set. Good stuff. Quite a digression here but a very interesting and impressive person.
    Regards,

    Kris

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kris Cook View Post
    Jim - I always enjoy reading your salutation. I recently finished the 3 volume set Winston Churchill biography by William Manchester. I never really understood nor had an appreciation for the impact Churchill made on the 20th century. I got started on the Churchill kick by reading "Hero of the Empire" loaned to me by my neighbor. That started me on a quest which involved several other books and culminated with the 3 volume set. Good stuff. Quite a digression here but a very interesting and impressive person.
    True that Kris! Can't help but think how much our country would benefit from having someone like Churchill leading it now in this time of pandemic.

  7. #7

    Thumbs up

    If you want a great read about Churchill during WWII, I highly recommend [COLOR=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.87)]The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
    by Erik Larson.

  8. #8
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    Welcome to the Creek

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank O'Neill View Post
    If you want a great read about Churchill during WWII, I highly recommend [COLOR=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.87)]The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
    by Erik Larson.
    Probably going to be a while before I have time to read again but I will add to my list. Thanks for the tip.

    Welcome to the Creek. Interesting first post. Hopefully you have some woodworking ideas to share as well.
    Regards,

    Kris

  9. #9
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    Kris,

    Disston used beech on their #7 and #D7 saws, and a small smattering occasionally on other of their less expensive saws. They used apple on their better saws, including most of their very high end saws. Apple is tight grained and extremely split resistant. It looks good and wears very well. They used other assorted hardwoods on one or two of their lowest end saws. On some of their high dollar "prestige" saws they sometimes used rosewood, such as their "Victory" saws.

    I have 2 or 3 vintage Disston #7s, almost certainly made before the change in Disstons lines in 1928 (I think.) The #7 was their popular priced saw, but it was still a good saw, not the lowest end Disston saw at all. Disston did not put the "Disston" name on anything but good saws back then. The beech handles on my #7s are still in excellent shape, even after 90 years or more. I can't think of a better recommendation than that.

    Frank, one more "Welcome to the Creek!"

    Regards,

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 05-26-2020 at 10:07 PM.

  10. #10
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    Awesome. Thank you Stew.
    Regards,

    Kris

  11. #11
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    Frank, welcome to the Creek.

    One of my favorite Churchill stories is of him sending a woman who was serving chicken at a luncheon an orchid. She had rebuffed him for asking for a breast. She said, "over here we ask for white meat." A note with the orchid said, "I would be obliged if you would pin this on your white meat."

    Another was when he was using the lavatory in the House of Commons and the Lord Privy Seal wished to speak to him. He instructed his secretary, "tell his Lordship I'm sealed on the privy and can only deal with one $#!+ at a time."

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Frank, welcome to the Creek.

    One of my favorite Churchill stories is of him sending a woman who was serving chicken at a luncheon an orchid. She had rebuffed him for asking for a breast. She said, "over here we ask for white meat." A note with the orchid said, "I would be obliged if you would pin this on your white meat."

    Another was when he was using the lavatory in the House of Commons and the Lord Privy Seal wished to speak to him. He instructed his secretary, "tell his Lordship I'm sealed on the privy and can only deal with one $#!+ at a time."

    jtk
    JK, Those are awesome quotes – I'm absolutely going to steal them for myself! A couple of my favorites:

    "As a young man I made a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast"

    "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they've tried everything else"

    "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm"

  13. #13
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    Jim, Mike, and Frank,

    It wasn't wise to trade wits with Churchill, because he was "world class" quick witted.

    My favorite Churchill quote, and I don't know the circumstance but do know that there is some dispute about the exact wording, happened when Churchill was apparently at a large party with many politicians present. Some were political opponents, and Churchill had way to much to drink. One of the female opponents who apparently had a well known intense dislike for Churchill intentionally spoke very loudly so that all could hear "Churchill you're drunk!" His famous reply was "yes, and you, madam, are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober."

    Another was apparently after a political argument with the same woman. She said "Churchill, if you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee." His famous reply was "If you were my wife, I would drink it."

    Regards,

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 05-27-2020 at 10:53 PM.

  14. #14
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    Hi Warren,

    I've read several times that apple trees in the 19th century were typically much larger than the grafted trees we have today. Therefore, there was usable lumber in those trees, which is why it was used for saw handles, etc. Do you know if that's fact or just a tall tale? It kinda makes sense to me, but my knowledge of the history of trees is somewhat lacking. I have seen some pretty large wild apple trees in the woods, though.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Chenoweth View Post
    Hi Warren,

    I've read several times that apple trees in the 19th century were typically much larger than the grafted trees we have today. Therefore, there was usable lumber in those trees, which is why it was used for saw handles, etc. Do you know if that's fact or just a tall tale? It kinda makes sense to me, but my knowledge of the history of trees is somewhat lacking. I have seen some pretty large wild apple trees in the woods, though.
    We have been grafting trees for centuries, just so we can propagate named varieties, but wholesale dwarfing is more recent. The trees in my yard are semidwarf, planted around 1977. They are about 16 inches in diameter. They have a rootstock, then dwarfing interstem, then the fruit variety grafted on that. Today there is much more push for fully dwarf trees, which bear earlier. One of my neighbors planted trees six feet apart on a trellis like grapes.

    You live in an apple growing area, so if you keep your eyes open or ask around you ought to be able to find material for some handles. I think having a business making apple handles would be difficult.

    I once had some Cortland cider from an orchard near Elyria.

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