I just bought four antique Disston handsaws at an auction. Two of the saw blades have mild bends, and one of them has a sharp kink on the bottom of the far end. What's the best way to straighten them?
Louis Martin Springfield, MA
O Straightening a bent handsaw blade takes some skill and luck. You're off to the right start, since the old Disston handsaws are among the finest ever made. But you can straighten most handsaw blades made of ductile— well-tempered, not brittle—metal as long as the bend runs perpendicular and not parallel to the teeth.
To straighten a mildly bent handsaw blade, bend the blade by hand in the opposite direction, and let it spring back to shape. Caution: Always wear safety glasses, in case the blade should shatter.
A really kinked blade is much trickier. It requires hammering, which can easily destroy the blade's tension, rendering it useless. If you don't want to risk it, you can cut the blade down to get rid of the kink. Otherwise, set the saw blade on top of a vise, so that it spans the jaws. Then hammer the kink lightly with a cross-pccn hammer, working toward the center of the kink. Crank the vise jaws closer together as you hammer inward, to support the blade as you near the center of the kink. The center will need a few more hammer strikes to spring the blade back to straight.
Carpenter and handsaw expert Smithsburg, MD
©After reading David Marks' article on gilding in AW #58, I'd like to try it out. My wife would like me to gild over an old oak picture frame that already has a finish on it. Is it possible to gild over an existing finish?
Nick Peters Aurora, CO
OYcs, you can gild an already finished frame. Clean the surface with naphtha to remove any dirt or wax. Scrub it with a toothbrush and wipe it with paper towels until there's no grime on the towels. This will probably take several applications of naphtha.
Next, if the old finish is in good shape, isolate it by applying two coats of shellac. (If the finish is chipped or peeling, strip it off instead.) Clear shellac will work, but I prefer Zinsser's B.I.N, white pigmented shellac. It dries faster and helps to fill in the pores.
Once you've isolated or stripped the old finish, proceed with gilding as usual.
David Marks Gilder and furniture maker Santa Rosa, CA
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