November 6, 2010

Another Method of Cleaning a Hand Saw Blade

Another Method of Cleaning a Hand Saw

Several methods of cleaning hand saw blades of rust and coatings are published on the internet.  Briefly, these are:
Scraping with a single-edge razor blade or other sharp blade at a low angle, either dry or with mineral spirits as a lubricant.
This is followed by wet sanding with mineral spirits, using grits from 220 through 1000 as needed, with or without a sanding block, possibly then by rubbing with steel wool.

Here is a method I developed that removes rust without the risk of scratches from scraping, without mineral spirits, and at a low cost.

Like the other guys, I remove the handle, and then lay the blade on a flat outdoor surface where rust stains won’t matter.  I started out using an old outdoor table and now have a small Trex shelf attached to a privacy fence, similar to a gardener’s potting table.

The main tool I use is a small fine-grained whetstone or water stone.  The one I started with wore thin, then broke when I dropped it, but I have picked up several replacements for $1 to $2 each at flea markets and yard sales.  If there is oil buildup on the stone, I degrease it first with a water-base cleaner like 409 or Spray Nine.  The stone functions both as grit and sanding block, lasts much longer than a pack of sandpaper, and is much cheaper.

If the saw blade is greasy with used motor oil, WD-40, or who knows what, I remove that where it won’t go into my soil. Then I flood the blade with water, and begin rubbing it with the stone in long lengthwise strokes.  The rust comes off quickly at first, so I stop frequently to rinse the blade and stone. I stay at least ½ inch away from the teeth, preferring to keep my fingers between stone and teeth.  This is both to protect the set and to preserve the stone.

I generally start on the side with the etch.  If it begins to show, then I stop going over or near the etch.  I work at removing the rust from the rest of that side of the blade, continuing to rinse frequently.  Then I resume going over the etch very carefully and slowly.  Once more of it shows, I stop and switch to the other side of the blade.  When that appears to be as clean as possible using the stone, I switch to wet and dry automotive paper of 400 grit and up, still using water.  Using a small pad with the paper, I carefully go over the areas of the etch that are still obscured until they start to show.  At that point, I’ve learned to stop with the etch.

The paper works well to attack any stubborn rust, usually in dimples or on the toe if the saw was stored in a shed or barn.  The area under the handle may show how the saw looked when it left the factory, but the area at the edge of the handle can have extra rust where the wood retained moisture.  Generally the bolt holes will have raised edges, and flattening those with the stone may make slipping the handle back on easier.

One cautionary note is that the stone may have a few stray grains of larger grit that will scratch the blade, so check for the feel of that and look for it when rinsing.  That won’t matter when the rust is thick, but it will if you are almost done.

Immediately after finishing I wipe the blade thoroughly dry and hang it in the sun.  Then I wax it like the other guys do. 

One bonus is that your rusty fingernails will identify you as an antique tool lover and the kind of guy who can answer questions at the hardware store or home center.  Try bleach.

Finally, if you are polishing brass sawnuts and are a nit-picking kind of guy, use a toothpick with polish to get the crud out of the screw slots without scratching the brass.

October 18, 2010

More about how to transport a Foley filer

This is the result of my girlfriend and I going to an estate auction in a rural slice of Maryland on Saturday.  The auction description said nothing about Foley or saw sharpening equipment, but it did have a photo of the signs.  A friend who spends a lot of time on AuctionZip happened upon this auction, saw the sign photo as well as lots of grimy green equipment, and tipped me off to it a week ago.

We had to get up at 4:00 and leave shortly before 5:00 to get there by preview time.  There were lots of tools to look at, but what I went for were the many boxes of taper saw files.  These were in 9 bigger boxes, and in one I counted 17 boxes which hold 12 files each.  After bidding on the first of the 9 boxes, I elected to take the other 8 at the same price.  I could see it on eBay - "NOS Simonds taper saw files by the dozen, mix or match sizes!"

Getting the 600-800 files and 4 pieces of equipment into my car was pretty easy.  However, when I started examining the files yesterday, I learned that most of them were double-cut and had been used to sharpen one or 2 saws each.  So that was goodbye to the eBay dream.

But, this was a mystery - why would someone invest in so many double cut files files versus cheaper single cut, and use them so little?  And why would he have hundreds of 6-inch files in addition to the 7-inch that his Model 61 uses?  I will never know, because he had no children, but my guess is that they came from the machine shop in the factory where he worked, and they needed double cut files for the dies that stamped their product - lettering for signs.              

September 12, 2010

What you hope is included with a used saw filer

When you buy used Foley or Foley-Belsaw equipment, chances are that you will deal with someone who knows nothing about it, like a relative of the original owner. If you are fortunate it will be in the building where it was used, allowing you and the seller to look for any items that should or could go with the filer. In order of importance, these include:

File holders; if there’s a file in the filer, you will have a pair, but there may be more.

Carrier bars, a minimum of one straight carrier, but possibly a crown carrier, a miter/back saw carrier, or others. As these are unpainted and have do not say “Foley” on them, the seller may not associate these with the machine.

For the F-61 filer, a pair of carrier gauges; I have only 1 set and they look homemade (page 7 of F-61 manual)

Instruction manual

Taper saw files



September 11, 2010

Transporting a Foley Automatic Saw Filer

Today I had the privilege to see a saw collection that he said was about 300, and I told him I thought there were more - like 100 more.  He also has an Acme saw filer on loan from a man who will never use it again, and it was my first look at one.  It is a massive machine, and would be very heavy and awkward to move.

The Foley filers are compact and lighter, but they are awkward to pick up and carry, and there are potential pitfalls to transporting them.  Aside from human injury, the cast iron that is the major material in a filer is a brittle metal and difficult to repair once broken.  Some of the various small levers on the front are cast aluminum, which is also subject to breakage and expensive welding or eBay replacement.

First, remove the electric motor, which has 4 bolts, along with the power cord.  This will lighten the filer and lower the high center of gravity.  Also remove the power switch linkage and light if there are any.  The light is an accessory you will want to take if it can be found.

Then decide how you want to carry it to your vehicle and where it will be positioned.  A filer should be secured with 2 to 4 nylon hold-downs.  It should never be allowed to slide in a truck bed or in the back of your car.  It may leak oil, grease, saw filings, or cigar ash, so put cardboard under it.

Before lifting it, familiarize yourself with the wing frame locking handles.  These are the bolts - one on the F-61 and 2 on the 387 - that allow the frame with the moving parts to swivel sideways.  These should be tight when you lift it, but once in your vehicle may be loosened and retightened to achieve a better balance.

With the wing frame set properly, the F-61 can be picked up from the left side by putting your left arm under the rear of the wing frame and your right hand where you choose.  Don't pick up by the file arm or grip any other moving part!  I weigh just under 140 and by myself can carry the F-61 or 387 without motor.

When you set the filer in your vehicle according to your carefully thought-out plan, slowly tilt it back and to one side.  Ideally you would have chunks of foam, old pillows or a dog bed, or wadded-up cardboard to help cushion it as it goes sideways and in transit.  You want to protect all those little parts and avoid placing too much stress on the cast iron frames in case there is an old crack or casting bubble.

As you'll see, it's an awkward chunk of hardware.  Strap it so it can't move in any direction while in transit.

Once at your shop and you have set the filer on a sturdy bench, have one or 2 big C-clamps and wood shims handy. Immediately clamp the filer to the bench with the shim between the clamp and filer.  Keep the brittle nature of cast iron in mind, and don't bear down hard on the clamp.  You just want to keep it from sliding forward and tipping off while you study it.

When I bought a full set of Foley equipment a few months ago, I was in a hurry to grab a good deal and to beat rush hour since it was in the next metro area east.  I didn't have cardboard in the car, so we went dumpster diving at Border's Books.

When screwing down the filer, note that it has 3 only factory holes so it will sit solidly at each point, again avoiding breakage. 


September 6, 2010

If you are looking for a Foley filer...

Please be patient and do not overpay.  In 4 months I found more machines than I needed on Craigslist within an hour or 2 away, and paid an average of $65 each.  My first one, a Model 61 filer, was in the next state.  The seller was passing through Richmond the next day and dropped it off at my house for an extra $25, and my total cost was less than his original price.

Some sellers, especially some on eBay, seem to have an inflated idea of what Foley filers are worth.  Based on my transactions and what I see on Craigslist across the country, there are quite a few Foley filers gathering dust.  Three of my buys were used in neighborhood sharpening shops in detached garages and had seen little or no use in 10 or 20 years.  The original owner may have passed away, and the seller will be a relative who will know very little about it.  So, please take your time looking.

I will be posting some links, but here's one for the Oshlun MTM-SD Side Dial Gauge (Set Gauge) for $48.98 on Amazon: