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Yesterday my lady & I spent the day moping around the countryside and hanging about some antiques stores and such. We came upon an old barn sale full of tons of junk, and I found this guy.
12" Disston & Sons No 4 backsaw. Has 10-11 TPI. From the research I've done the medallion, stamp, and handle style places its production between 1896-1917. It's in pretty good shape, and pretty darn straight for a 100 year old saw. For 10 bucks, I'm happy. Here's a few pics



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Ok, the question part.

How do you tell if the teeth are filed for rip or cross?

What's the best way to remove the tarnish and grime from the plate & back without sanding?

Any good resources out there for a first timer who wants to learn to sharpen hand saws?

Any info you guys could offer is much appreciated
 

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Popular woodworking just had an online article and sales pitch for a video on how to make your own saw,...might be helpful.
 

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Here's a couple of links to get you going. The first is one of the best tutorials on sharpening saws that I've found. The second deals with creating a new saw from an old saw plate - the first couple of pages deal with reshaping the plate, but further in it has some great pictures and info on shaping/sharpening teeth.

http://www.vintagesaws.com/library/primer/sharp.html

http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/bSmalser/art/nlOldSaw/nlOldSaw4.asp

As to cleaning the plate, use the same methods you would use for old planes - electrolysis, Evapo-Rust or oxalic acid.
 

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Ok, the question part.

What's the best way to remove the tarnish and grime from the plate & back without sanding?
Nice old saw. Good find.

I start my plane cleanup with hand cleaner and a tooth brush. I use Permetex Fast Orange, but any degreaser will work. The pumice adds a slight abrasive.

If you want to remove rust without soaking in oxalic acid, etc. try this Boeshield product.

http://www.woodcraft.com/product/2000984/208/t9-rust-free-845-ounce-pump-spray.aspx

I used a small amount on the corrugations in the sole of your No. 5. Again used an old tooth brush. Took off the old tarnish in the corrugations.
 

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That's a good price for a fine saw. My favorite handsaws that I have are two old Disston backsaws very similar to yours. Good luck on the restore.
 
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