Yes, I’m still waiting
impatiently for a place to put my woodshop. In the meantime, I’ve just been doing some easy tool refurbishing (really though, without a workshop, that’s about all I can do).
Just before I left Italy to move to England, Stefano gifted me a Bow Saw that had been in his family for a little over a century. His great grandfather used it; it was 100% Italian-made (by hand!) and used. Stefano said that he had no use for it since he doesn’t often use hand saws… it had just been sitting around. I don’t know how I was worthy enough to receive such a storied heirloom, but I’m truly thankful for it!
I could tell it hadn’t been used in years (which makes it easy to honor a gift such as this just by using it). All the wood was this drab brown color and it was dry as a bone; when I picked it up it almost felt as though I was holding balsa wood!
Here it is prior to me starting to tinker with it a lot. (To come clean: I already started sanding the cross arm and the tightening pin in the picture below before I realized maybe I should take a picture… and then I reassembled the arms upside-down: they wouldn’t be able to hold the tightening string in the current configuration).
Before I started lightly sanding it (and I do mean lightly), I glued up some areas that were cracked due to old age. In the meantime, Stefano showed me how to clean the blade with some cleaner and steel wool and, in the process, brought the blade up to 80% cleaned. So now I have a little work left on the blade at this point. Once the glue was dry, I used some fine-grit sand paper and tried to lightly erase that brown drab and resurface with the next layer underneath. I took great care here because I did not want to take out the little nicks, the imperfections, the slight grooves from a century of use… I wanted to try to retain the life story of this remarkable tool. When people see it, I want to have visual proof of a Jointer’s story from Italy who handed it down from father to son multiple generations. I don’t want a brand new looking tool that is to the same specs and dimensions; that would just require some new wood and replicating the build I currently have in front of me. I want the story.
I really don’t classify this as a huge project, because it consists of careful sanding and finishing, and not building. After sanding, I could even tell what wood the saw was made from: the blade arms look to be of Elm, while the cross arm and tightening pin look to be of Yellow Pine. The wooden nuts that hold the saw look like Beech. With sanding complete, I use my standard working-tool finish: Boiled Linseed Oil.
Even the first coat of oil brought out the old beauty of the saw. I overnight-soaked all the parts individually (including the tightening string) and let it dry, rubbing off the excess oil once a day.
I can’t wait to use it. Thanks, Stefano, for such a wonderful gift.