Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Smallest "Miter Box Saw" I've Ever Found

I strolled into my wife's favorite little antique shop the other day.  It has all the things my wife likes, and virtually nothing that interests me.  But we had time to kill, and we spent some quality time wandering through, looking and commenting on things.

It's run by several of the nicest little old ladies you'll ever meet.  One of them asked if we needed any help, so I asked if they had any tools (I always ask, they never do, and we have a nice chat about some obtuse antique item, say, the rare victorian carved cigars or whatever, and I go on my way).

But this time she got a funny look on her face and said, "Well, we don't understand tools at all, you see, but there is this....thing, I think it's a miter saw, back over there in the corner."

So I went to inspect the thing.  It was indeed a saw in a crude miter box made of recently processed pine such as the local lumber yard carries.  A small saw sat cradled in the kerfs cut in the box, barely spanning the width of the box, about 12" long.  The blade was black with something like tallow, the handle was worn and dark with scars and the upper horn was damaged.  It was straight, but could use a sharpening.  The saw back was beginning to separate from the blade near the handle, which was apple.  H. DISSTON & SONS * PHILADA was stamped on the medallian and the brass nuts were domed.

All the above at a price less than $10 made it a pretty easy decision to give this saw a new home in my shop.  My preliminary assessment is a Disston #4 backsaw, dating to approximately 1878 -'88.  The handle shape is a closer likeness to the #4 rather than the #77.

When I fetched the saw to the cashier to pay, she asked if I didn't want the miter box that came with it.  "No, you can keep it", I said.  "I don't think it's original equipment, and this little saw will stand on its own merits, but thank you anyway".

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