Wednesday, June 29, 2016

De-rusting and Warranted superior saws

Today for my daily one hour of shop time,  decided that I would work on combating our arch rival nemesis of tools, rust!

Now that I can walk around the garage floor, I thought it would be a good place to work since de-rusting can get some messy regardless of methods used .

So I spray liberally the jointer cast iron bed and a handsaw I'm working on.
Throw ball with Rudy while I leave it do its trick (WD-40 not Rudy :-)

Went to get a new razor scraper cause I have no idea were mine is right now..

A few scrape and see how easily it is coming off

Surface rust is no biggie, except if left unchecked for a while
 it will eventually cause pitting and that would be a bad thing.  A coat of wax later on will protect it.

The saw I'm working on is one of them I picked the other day it shows a faint etch, Im curious to see what it is.

My usual arsenal for saw plates, WD-40, safety razor scraper, and lots of paper towels. I also used a green Scotch pad, but I stay clear of the etch area with it.

These dome screws are sometimes a bugger to remove, since the there is nothing to hold the screw in place. 3 out of 4 came out easily, the last one just spins in place. I had to resort to a piece of wood and two clamps to secured it while unscrewing.


The dome screws first came out in 1876.
This design was patented by Disston on Aug 29th 1876.
The Medallion has female thread (shown on left)
The threaded stud is rather small and being brass can be twisted off...

In the 1914 catalog, you can buy replacement medallions, but only with Warranted superior, not Disston on it. Available in two sizes:
Large 1 inch and Small 13/16 inch. Notice also how the dome screws have changed. The medallions now have a thread stud

That change came about with the Glover nut patent of 1887

So what is the scoop with that saw?
after some light scraping with the razor an etch start to appear...

The etch reads:
Special saw steel     Patent taper ground
Made in Canada

Never heard of it, so lets look at the medallion;

Recognize the unmistakable Disston Keystone logo?
It measure 13/16 in in diameter and the rolled edge is 3/32 wide.
It is made of brass nickel plated

So what is the deal with Warranted Superior on saws?
There are two very different usage of this statement. On British saws, it denoted often a truly superior products, while ironically, on American saws, it denoted a second line product from the big makers; Namely Disston, Atkins and Simonds.

Most American saw makers were purchased by one of these three makers, listed above, and continued with their other makers saws except that they would not stamped them with their "good name" and instead put their Warranted medallion on them. Are they a lesser product? Arguably, some are as good as the major labels manufacturers, but they did not wanted to lessen their good name by putting it on a less expensive products. Brand name loyalty was (and may still is) strong in those days. Disston at their peaks easily dominated the market at about 60 % of all saws sold...Worldwide!  Ever wondered why they are so prolific out there? Now you know. So if you find any American Warranted superior saws, chances are pretty good it was made by Disston!

This Jackson backsaw (second line from Disston) from my "ahem" assortment, featured the typical Eagle first used on Warranted Superior medallions by Disston

A more modern WS American medallion

While this British Simpson tenon saw has a mythical slayer 

Typically, British WS medallions have a coat of arms on them.
That one from a combination saw from Adelaide saw works

These are all from my coll...err assortment of users saws :-)
Back to Disston;
Later Disston made WS medallions, have a circle of dots, star at the 3 and 9 o'clock position and with or without the eagle in the middle, then a keystone was put in the middle instead of an eagle. The 1906 catalog shows the eagle while the 1911 has the keystone showing on their replacements medallions. The 1914, and 1923 catalog shows nothing in the center (no eagle nor keystone)

This medallion is then from approx 1911. By then most small guys were now secondary lines of the big guys (Disston, Atkins, Bishop and Simonds)

This saw measured 24 in at the tooth line, making it a full size handsaw, as opposed to a panel saw (20-22 in). The rosewood handle has some wheat carving on it and fit my hand just right. Being made of special saw steel (whatever that is) and patent taper ground are all signs of a good saw. She is a keeper :-)

In case you are wondering, no I did not finish cleaning it, I was sweating buckets so I quit and retreated to the computer to research it.

Bob, who was worry I'll catch hell because I forgot to changes my clothes before making a rusty mess... old habits die hard I guess ...


  1. Bob, I've always wondered how to get the domed saw handle screws out. I guess some have a square shank (in a square hole) before the threads and that keeps them form spinning. But I've seen some that were just round and I thought it was just plain dumb! At least now I have something to try. Thanks for that.

  2. Hi Matt, yes, some are supposed to prevent rotation by having a square shanks in a square hole, but it does not always resist turning, and it did not take long before the holes were drilled round, and the medallions have some small ribs that are supposed to bite in ... It works...sometimes..... As soon as I encounter resistance from turning i stop and back the dome by a clamp to secure it fast. Sometimes one clamp is enough, sometimes not, depends a lot on its location.
    Glad I could be of some help

  3. "Bob, who was worry I'll catch hell because I forgot to changes my clothes before making a rusty mess..."
    That is part of "faire son deuil" (in French). I feel you pain.

    Do you place a piece of rubber between the scrap blog and the medaillon to prevent rotation?

  4. Hi Sylvain, oui je suis en train de faire mon deuil...
    Rubber piece? Depends how much trouble it is giving me and what I have on hands at the time, but for the most part, a piece of scrap wood works just fine. The only thing you have to be very careful is NOT to force the screws if it is too tight. These screws being mostly brass are soft and can snap in extreme case. So far so good, but I take it easy and sometimes try to put soak in Liquid wrench into the saw nuts. Heck of a lot easier on split nuts BTW.
    AsI discussed with Matt the ribs under the screws or earlier square shanks in a square hole are "supposed" to prevent rotation but after all these years (dome screws have been around since 1876) they are sometimes well stuck together, these ribs are no match for the torque generated by the screwdriver.

    Bob, who still missed her and I suspect will for a while

  5. Bob,

    ..."Bob, who was worry I'll catch hell because I forgot to changes my clothes before making a rusty mess... old habits die hard I guess ..."

    For the rest of my life.

    I have a Jergenson clamp with leather on one jaw and a hole the same size as a saw screw in the other jaw that I use to remove saw screws and medallions. I tried to find a photo (I know I have one) of it in use but no joy, maybe later.


  6. Yah im pretty well doomed for the rest of my life, no one to remind me...
    That is a pretty good idea, the modified clamp., will try that

  7. Hi Bob

    This is an excellent post, I always wondered what this "Warranted Superior" business is all about. Now I know. Good work.

    Speak to you soon.

  8. Hi Gerhard
    Ah yes the warranted superior business is just like all the hyperbole names they gave to the steel use: Special steel, London Spring steel and what have you. Marketing gimmicks? Probably. But more than extravagant sounding phraseology, the real test of a good tools is how it is made and how it performs.
    I have had good luck with such warranted superior saws.

    Bob, the rusty old guy

  9. My son found a hand saw stamoed Warranted Superior pat Dec 27th, 1887. With an eagle pic. Are you able to tell us anything about it?

    1. I see previous post , but he's wondering if there's any value in it. He's 12 yrs old.

  10. Julie and Unknown
    That patent date of 1887 is for the Glover saw nut patent, and the Eagle on the Warranted Superior makes it an early Disston saw.
    Value? No ideas, depends a lot on condition, condition.
    Such saw do not appears to be rare or scarce, hence probably not terribly valuable, but in the end any antique is ultimately worth as much as someone is willing to pay...