The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Like many woodworkers, I do most of my straight ripping on a table saw, but a rip-filed hand saw is invaluable for making cuts that aren’t straight, for instance when making a large wedge. I have an old rip filed saw that needs nothing short of surgery to get it working again, so a few weeks back I purchased a Sandvik rip-filed hand saw from Ebay. The item was listed as “New old stock”, meaning that it was an old item that had never been sold (just in case you couldn’t figure that one out for yourselves). The saw arrived in brand new condition; in actuality I was quite surprised at its condition, because sometimes NOS items show up looking a little neglected. In any case, the saw looked great, and somehow vaguely familiar.
I know next to nothing about Sandvik tools, and I have no idea how old this saw really is. It could be 5 years or it could be 25, I’m just not sure. I checked out Sandvik on the internet and it turns out they make construction equipment in Sweden. There is no indication that they make woodworking tools, nor is there any indicator on the tool itself that I can see which shows any manufacturing date. Either way, I’m not complaining, because so far it seems like I got a very high quality tool for under $80. Yet I still couldn’t figure out where I saw this tool before.

Serendipity is a strange thing, but just the other day a coworker had asked me if I had heard of Disston Saw Works. Being a woodworker, and being a native of Philadelphia, I told him that I knew the company well. Disston still exists, actually, though they make industrial saws now rather than saws for woodworking. But out of curiosity I went on the Disston web page and discovered something I did not know: Disston sold its hand saw division in 1978 to, you guessed it, Sandvik. Apparently Sandvik did not keep the division and at some point in the 1980s it was disbanded. But, one plus one clicked, and it dawned on me at that very moment that I had seen my rip saw before, it looked remarkably similar to a 1950s model Disston that I saw at flea market tool sale. So once again I did a little research and the 1953 D-12 model, while hardly identical, is close enough to indicate at the very least a common background. If they ain’t brothers they’re sure as heck cousins.

Long lost brothers?

Long lost brothers?

So l learned something new, which is something I try to do each and every day. It’s a shame that makers like Disston, or Sandvik, no longer offer hand saws for woodworkers, because we all know that Disston made some of the best hand saws you will ever see, and if my Sandvik is any indication, they weren’t too shabby either. Luckily, some other makers have taken up the slack and still offer high quality tools.

My sense of nostalgia comes and goes. I’ve always wanted to have the experience of flying in a B-17 bomber, or ride a horse to work, or build a bridge by hand. I’m not saying I want to relive those eras, just experience them for myself. But it’s funny, because even though I can order a high quality panel saw from Lie Nielsen or E. Garlick and Sons, one of my nostalgic wish list items was to use a new Disston hand saw. And though this Sandvik may not be the same thing, I think it’s about as close as I’m ever going to get.



  1. theindigowoodworker says:

    Sandvik makes lots of tooling for machining (tool and die). They’re an old reliable. I didn’t know that they bought the Disston hand saw line. Interesting tidbit there.

    • billlattpa says:

      I’m still trying to figure out how old my saw is. According to the Disston webpage, Sandvik sold off it’s hand saw division somewhere around 1984. The saw I have doesn’t seem that old (it looks brand new actually) other than the fact that the handle design looks nothing like any other saw made in the past 20 years. That is just a guess on my part, though. I’m hoping somebody who knows happens to read this post and lets me know.

  2. dzj9 says:

    I’ve got a Sandvik mitre saw. Plastic handle. Bought it long ago. Payed 50 Deutsche Marks for it. Cuts like nobody’s business. Sharpens like a breeze.

    • billlattpa says:

      I put my saw to real use for the first time the other day. I ripped a pine board to use in making another rack. It tracked nicely, but it definitely needs sharpening. The set is a bit heavier than I would have expected, and at the same time, this is my first “new” rip saw, so I have very little frame of reference to judge by.
      I have to make a basic sharpening jig and give it a shot. I’m not experienced in sharpening saws, but I have done it on a few rip saws in the past, so at least I’m not going in blind.

  3. nvmepeter says:

    Sandvic are reputed to make the best wooden plough plane. Am no excpert, but am relaying what I have learned, cheers peter

    • billlattpa says:

      Everything I’ve seen seems to say that the handsaw I purchased is more than 20 years old, but I just can’t believe that. It is in too good condition, even for a “new old stock”. Unless it was sealed or wrapped in plastic. But it looks like Sandvik hasn’t made hand saws for quite a long time. I’m still trying to research it and see what I turn up.

  4. Sandvik are badass. No question. Dad had a couple of ’em. Guys I learnt my trade had them too. You did good to buy one. Sandvik were bought out by Bacho some time ago, don’t think this type of handsaw is their marken anymore.

    • billlattpa says:

      I still can’t figure out exactly how old this saw really is! From what I can gather, Sandvik hasn’t made hand saws since the mid 1980s. This saw, even as “new old stock” doesn’t appear to be more than 20 years old, but unless I’m seeing something wrong it has to be at least that old. I’m not complaining, just being curious. Either way it seems like a top notch saw, it just needs a quick sharpening.

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