Wednesday 27 July 2016

A Hand Saw Story

Have you ever had the feeling that the past catches up with you?

It happened to me at one of the last Saturdays.

So it comes that I have got a little story about hand saws today.

Since a while I'm looking for an old, small hand saw (means a short one).
Meanwhile I had to realize that the usual saw for German cabinet makers was the frame saw and not a panel or hand saw.
Nevertheless I can remember that my grandfather had got a panel saw in his basement for cutting wood to size. So I thought that it should be possible to find one on the flea market or online. But with no luck till today.
All I could find were dead ugly hand saws, most of them hard pointed which is impossible to sharpen, and with plywood handles, in bad and rusty condition.
At the last flea market visit I found such a model once again. But something was different when I discovered it.
What caught my attention was the tote which was peeping out of the dealers box. It looked pretty unused.
I grabbed it and pulled it out of the box. The saw blade was nearly stainless and it had teeth in good condition.
Okay, sharp feels somehow different, but they were good in comparison to what I have found usually in the past.

And then I discovered something that told me this saw is a must have. The engraving.

Engraving on the saw blade

The engraving is from a local hardware store of my hometown which is closed meanwhile. 
"What is special with this?" you will ask. Now listen.
This hardware store was closed long ago. I did not exactly know when, but the last time I have been there is more then forty years ago. It was one of these stores were you can get everything, starting from a washer and not ending by professional tools.
In my area these kind of stores are all gone meanwhile and replaced by big box stores.

In my childhood I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. He was early retired. So it came that he spent his time with me when I was a little boy. But you know, being retired will not mean doing nothing.
My grandfather was busy every day, doing repair work for elder ladies, garden work and so on.
And I was with him all the time. And if he needed material or tools then we went to "Eisen Schneider", because if you couldn't get it there you couldn't get it nowhere.

I did not know that they had got an own tool range and I think that the saw is from one of the former German tool manufacturers. I believe due to the medallion on the tote that the saw was made by "Koch & Pohlmann" which was a saw manufacturer in the past (it was founded 1898 and closed 1992).

Maybe that is the type of saw my grandfather had in his tool tote. It's so long ago that I can't remember. But for sure he would have bought it at this dealer.

All this above described things came immediately to my mind as I was holding the saw in my hands and looking at it.

So, I was standing in front of the lady, which was owner of the booth, with a grin in my face and sure that I must have this saw. We haggled a bit about the price. Honestly, I would have payed every price to get it (naa, not really every price).
I could get it cheap. She was glad to get rid of it (old tools were only bought by oddballs like me), I was glad to get it. A classical win win situation.

The saw is 350 mm long and a perfect hand saw as I find. The handle is a pistol grip which fits perfectly my hand.

The saw how I have found it
I didn't like these plywood handles, but this one looks somehow good and is made out of several layers of Beech. It has a nice medallion which promises extra guarantee - whatever that means (if it is from the above mentioned manufacturer then this is the trademark of their craftsmen saw range).

Guarantee Medallion

Plywood handle

And the saw teeth have been in good condition. I gave it a quick sharpening, which means two rounds of filing. It's pretty sharp now and sawing fine. I just would like to have a tad more aggressive cut. As I'm not pretty good in saw sharpening, I would be glad about every hint. From what I can see it is a standard rip saw geometry (60/90°).

This saw will get a special place in my shop and will not be my daily user for two reasons.

The saw at its new home

First of all, I will keep that saw in memory of my grandfather. 
And second, it will remember me of a long gone generation of specialized local dealers.
Call me sentimental - You are right. Finally that's another aspect of "Why are we collecting tools?".

Anyway, that is the perfect type of a bench saw. Why the heck is no one manufacturing these nowadays?

Stay tuned!


  1. That's a great find, the saw by itself isn't anything special but the memories it invokes are priceless.
    I remember a general store in my hometown that is long gone now, a person could find anything you needed there.
    I have a shelf in my shop with a few old tools on it that were either my Dad's or my Uncle Bill's. I clean, them and keep them in good order but I rarely use them, their there just to remind me of another time.
    Thanks for the story Stephan.

    1. Hello Stephen,
      thanks for the comment. Glad that you like the story.

  2. Funny about the flood of memories coming back when you pick up such a tool. You are right, THAT is one reason we collect tool for sure.
    I am not a big fan of plywood handle neither but if well executed ( as in this case) it sure make the handle that much sturdy, in this case it is a good thing or it may have not survived that long...
    Great story, enjoy your new saw and its memories it brought back


    1. Hi Bob,
      Thanks for your words.
      What I found special is that the plywood handle seems to be made from multiple layers of Beech. Usually only the top and bottom layers are Beech, if at all.

      Stefan, with some other finds to come up with.

  3. That's a nice story, Stefan. I also long for those days when you had a local hardware store that had everything you might need - and good quality too. It's unfortunate the way things go for small businesses. But at least there's still garage sales and flea markets and antique stores to hunt for things.

    1. Hi Matt,
      even if hunting is fun to do, it's not ideal if you are searching for something special. I had a lot of luck this year and found some tools I was searching for last year. And finally I could support some private people to get rid of some junk ;-)

  4. And what kind of junk would you be looking for ? :-)
    PS free fluffy rodent with every shipment haha

    1. As mentioned I was looking for a nice vintage panel or hand saw. With no luck until today. Don't get me wrong I've got every saw I need. It's just the idea to find a nice old one. I was looking for a frame or web span saw. I have found one. More on that in the next posts.
      I'm still searching for a good hand grinder in the right size. I've got one with a 100 mm wheel. But with no luck on finding a replacement wheel.
      Ah yes, I'm hoping to find some molding planes. I found two round planes last year but I'm missing the corresponding hollows. If I would not be short with time then I would dive into plane blade making.
      Beside of that I've found a lot of stuff this year. I'll give you an impression soon.
      Meanwhile I'm more following another idea. We have started to discuss it last time - the keyword is tool rescue ;-)
      Fluffy rodents are a nice give away for shipments. Better than sweets ;-) Maybe a business idea...

  5. This is the first time I've heard of plywood used for totes. The one on your saw looks pretty good. Maybe it was done for economic use of wood scraps and for stability? I like the pistol grip on it a lot.

    1. Hi Ralph,
      these plywood handles were pretty common for hand saws produced here. I think for two reasons. 1) Economical mass production. Plywood can be machined very well. 2) Stability might be the second factor. I have found a few of these saws and it doesn't matter how rotten the blade was. The tote was mostly in good conditions.
      The pistol grip is real cool. I think I will start an experiment and use this handle as template.

  6. Bad Axe offers what they call "shock resistant laminate" (plywood) totes. In many ways plywood makes sense for a saw tote because short grain is hard to avoid. That said, would I pick one? Not likely, sometimes "bling" is more important than function :-).