This little 125 year old backsaw was in sad need of some TLC. Having said that, it was actually in pretty good shape and looked like all original equipment. The discovery of this little gem is described here. The before shot:
And after a minimal cleanup. I call this minimal because nothing new has been added; only rust, dirt, paint and old finish have been removed. The saw shows well, but it still looks 125 years old. That handle is just a classic shape, isn't it?
I removed the saw nuts, handle and back. Normally I leave the back in place, but this one was seriously canted.
Then I lay down a length of particle board with melamine on one side. This works way better than newspaper, cardboard, or garbage bags. All of those get messy and fall apart after a while. Then I carefully scrape as much rust off as I can, without digging in and scarring the metal. I follow this with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper in 3-in-1 oil. You can use mineral spirits, windex or just about any other lubricant that you want to use. On small blades I use 3-in-1. I also usually start with 240 or 320 grit sandpaper, but I wanted to go slow on this one and look for an etch (no such luck, tho).
The sawnuts were cleaned with Brasso and a brass brush. The handle was scraped with a card scraper, then rubbed with a 3M pad with alcohol to completely remove the old shellac finish, which looked pretty sad. I finished the blade and the back with 600 grit and autosol rubbed with crumpled foil. The handle got a coat of danish oil.
One last comment; this is the first backsaw I have done a total rehab on. When I put the back on after cleaning, I inserted the blade in the back as far as it would go, see below. This resulted in one of the holes for the sawnuts being completely covered, so I asked the Woodnet guys what was up. Toby steered me in the right direction. Apparently only about 1/8" of the blade extends into the back. Once I fixed that, it was easy to finish up.