No. 12 Handsaw, ca. 1920

Disston No. 12, 112,
D-12 and D-112 Handsaws

No. 12 Etch

The Disston No. 12 and subsequent D-12 handsaw could be considered their top of the line saw, with the possible exception of the Victory saws. The saw is a work of art on a mass-produced scale. Like the No. 9 saw, it has London Spring steel. It also has an ornate chip-carved applewood handle with the old-style mounting, the mounting similar to a No. 7. The saw feels big in the hand, quite different from the D-8 and similar, later saws. There is also a skewback version of the saw, No. 112, sold 1903-1928, followed by the D-112.

 
No. 112 saw

No. 112.

 No. 12

1870's
In the 1860's and 70's, the No. 12 featured domed sawnuts that protruded above the surface of the handle. Saw manufacturers tried different designs before the best style came out in 1888.
1870's No. 12
Domed Saw Nuts
No. 12 Handle
No. 12 Handsaw ca. 1865-71
1880's

This 1880's No. 12 ripsaw has a fine wheat-effect carving. The carving remained on Disston saws throughout the history of the company, but the work became coarser as time went on, as shown in the photos of later saws, below. By the early 20th century, the carving was actually made with a power rotary tool. Note the shape of the "carved" recesses in the close-up photo of two handles from the 1920's on the right.

Detail of Wheat Carving

  

What made the No. 12 saw more expensive and higher in quality was the work that went into it. The blade was subjected to more hammer work than lesser-quality saws to give tension to the steel. The controlled introduction of internal stresses into the cold steel through hammering and subsequent tempering, resulting in a "tensioned" saw blade, creates a blade that is less likely to wander or vibrate unnecessarily in use. An added result of this tensioning is a blade that has a characteristic ringing or "singing" sound when tapped. This ca. 1880 28" ripsaw is a baritone. 1880's
No. 12 Handsaw, ca. 1880
No. 12 Handle, pre-WWI
Another feature of the No. 12 handsaw is the extra taper in the blade. In order to reduce the amount of set required on the teeth, the No. 12 was ground thinner at the back than other models. Disston claimed the steel was harder in the No. 12 saw, which would enable the saw plate to be ground thinner while still remaining stiff enough stand up to mild abuse. After grinding and hammering, the blade was polished to almost a mirror finish.
No. 12 Panel Saw Handle, 1920's
The handles give a rough idea of the age of a particular saw, along with the medallion, which in most cases will tie down the age of a saw with reasonable accuracy. This panel saw from the 1920's has the typical feature of fewer sawnuts than a full-sized version of the No. 12. Old panel saws are a common find in flea markets and tool auctions. They fit easily into toolboxes, so would have been the choice for workers who had to carry their tools to the jobsite.
No. 12 Panel Saw, 1920's
No. 12 Saw Handle, 1920's In the 1920's Disston began to make significant changes in its line of saws. Several models, including the No. 112, were dropped. In 1927 Disston introduced the lightweight versions of its saws and eventually phased out most of the regular-width saws. By the 1950's the only regular-width saw in the Disston line was the D-8. They produced the D-12 both widths until the WWII era. The lightweight version became the predominate shape for Disston saws.

 

No. 12 Handsaw, 1920's
     No. 12 Ship Saw with mahogany handle
    

This No. 12 is a rip ship saw. The blade is without a nib and the handle is mahogany. It dates from the 1920's and is a full 26 inches in length. A few of these have turned up, but not many. The etch does not indicate ship saw, but only the No. 7 has been seen with "ship saw" written in the etch. I have not seen a nib on a Disston ship saw made in the 20th century. The mahogany handle may have been a special feature to appeal to ship carpenters.

No. 12 Mahogany Handle

 

 No. 12


  D-12

D-12 panel saw, 1930's
1930-40's

In 1928 all the saws in the Disston handsaw line were redesigned. One small change was the renaming of saws from the "No." designation to "D". For example, the No. 12 was changed to D-12. Disston announced other changes included narrower blades, harder steel, more taper in the blade, and different finish on the handle. Disston changed the finish from varnish to lacquer.

After 1928 the handles had a closed top that covered the top of the blade, instead of the slit that was visible on the top of earlier saw handles. The blind slit in the new handles was matched in shape to the blade, resulting in a handle that was less likely to loosen from the saw. This feature was introduced in 1875 with the D-8 and Acme 120 saws.

Unlike the earlier saws, the D-12 was not drastically different from other saws in the line, such as the D-8 and D-23. The quality and finish of the D-12 is comparable to that of those other saws. The saw nuts of the D-12 were nickel-plated brass, and the blade featured a high polish not given to the D-8.

1930-40's
D-112 Handsaw D-112 Handle

The D-112 was introduced in 1928. Like the No. 112 preceding it, the only difference between it and the D-12 was the skewback shape. It may have been offered for a short time only; no mention is made of it in the 1929 or 1932 catalogs. It was offered in the regular width in 1928. Note the handle shape of this Canadian Disston model D-112, which is shaped like that of the D-12 sold in the early 1950's. The handle is the same as the 1928 catalog illustration seen below.

D-12 Handsaw, circa 1950
1950's

 
D-12's still had applewood handles through the 1930's and 40's. When the D-12 was introduced in 1928, the handle changed to a smoother shape at the top with the cutaway for the web of the hand in two handed-use and had grown an extra nut. There are five saw nuts instead of the earlier four. Notice that the shape of the handle becomes blockier and less ornate with every passing decade.

This is an example of a D-12 about 1950 with a walnut handle, and its appearance is a far cry from that of the saws made 70 years earlier. That said, the Disston saws from the early 1950's were still better than anything made today.

1950's D-12 Etch The last of the D-12's were produced in the early 1950's. The handle changed shape again, this one looking more like a D-8 except for the chip carving.


Information taken from Disston 1876 catalog:

No. 12 1876 catalog illustration
No 12
Extra Refined London Spring Steel, Selected and highly polished blades. Handle carved and polished, brass screws and polished washers -- the finest handsaw manufactured.
 Retail
 per Dozen
Length
16"  $25.50
18"  $27.50
20"  $29.50
22"  $32.50
24"  $34
26"  $35
28"  $40
30"  $45


Information taken from Disston 1890 catalog:

If you cannot be supplied through your dealer, write us.

No. 12 1890 catalog illustration
No. 12

Disston & Sons' Extra Refined London Spring Steel, Selected and highly Polished Blade, Handle Carved and Polished, Improved Brass Screws; the finest saw manufactured. We make all saws with apple handle, as heretofore shown, somewhat higher in temper, so that they require very little set.
 Retail
 per Dozen
Length
16" $20.00
18" $22.00
20" $24.00
22" $26.00
24" $28.00
26" $30.00
28" $34.00
30" $39.00


Information taken from Disston 1906 and 1914 catalogs:

Note: The product line was its broadest at this time. Points per inch are not specified so it may be safe to assume
the customer could special order any practical number of points on a saw.

No. 12 Illustration
No. 12

Extra Refined London Spring Steel, Selected and Highly Polished Blade, Warranted, Apple Handle, Carved and Polished, Brass Screws.

 Retail
 per Dozen
Length
16"  $18.75
18"  $20.75
20"  $23
22"  $25
24"  $27
26"  $29
28"  $33
30"  $38


No. 112 Illustration
No. 112

Skewback, Extra Refined London Spring Steel, Selected and Highly Polished Blade, Apple Handle, Carved and Polished, Brass Screws.

Prices per dozen Retail

 Retail
 per Dozen
Length
16"  $19.75
18"  $21.75
20"  $24
22"  $26
24"  $28
26"  $30
28"  $34
30"  $39


Information taken from Disston 1918 catalog:

No. 12 Illustration
No.12 Extra Refined London Spring Steel, Selected and Highly Polished Blade,
Warranted, Apple Handle, Carved and Polished, Brass Screws.

Manufactured only in the following lengths and points:
inches points Retail
Cross Cut      
18 10, 11 $20.75 per dozen
20 8, 9, 10, 11 $23.00
22 8, 9, 10, 11 $25.00
24 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 $27.00
26 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 $29.00
28 5, 6, 7, 8 $33.00
Rip      
24 5, 5½, 6, 7 $27.00
26 5, 5½, 6, 7 $29.00
28 5, 5½, 6 $33.00


No. 112 Illustration
No. 112 Skewback, Extra Refined London Spring Steel, Selected and Highly Polished Blade,
Warranted, Apple Handle, Carved and Polished, Brass Screws.

Manufactured only in the following lengths and points:
inches points Retail
Cross Cut      
20 10, 11 $24.00 per dozen
22 9, 10 $26.00
24 8, 9, 10 $28.00
26 7, 8, 9, 10 $30.00
Rip      
26 5, 5½, 6 $30.00
28 5, 5½, 6 $34.00


Information taken from Disston 1922 catalog:

No. 12 1922 catalog illustration
No. 12

Many carpenters and saw users who take pride in having exceptionally well made and well finished tools, are users of this saw. The No. 12 has a straight-hack, full width blade of Disston-made Steel. This blade is extra tempered and will hold its cutting edge longer than the ordinary saw. It is ground one gauge thinner than other hand saws, for special clearance, and therefore requires little set. The handle is made of selected applewood and is carefully carved and polished. This saw is of the best Disston material and workmanship and is very attractively finished. Its cost is slightly higher than any of the saws so far mentioned. It is made in lengths from 16 to 30 inches with cross-cut or rip teeth.

No. 112. The Disston No. 112 Saw is exactly like the No. 12 excepting that it has a skew-back blade for those who prefer this type.

Lengths (inches):
16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30


Information taken from Disston 1924 catalog:

No. 12 1924 catalog illustration
No. 12 Saw

Many carpenters and saw users who take pride in having exceptionally well-made and well-finished tools are users of this saw. The No. 12 has a straight-back, full-width blade of Disston-made Steel. This blade is extra tempered and will hold its cutting edge longer than the ordinary saw. It is ground one gauge thinner than other handsaws, for special clearance, and therefore requires little set. The handle is made of selected apple-wood and is carefully carved and polished. This saw is of the best Disston material and workmanship and is very attractively finished. Its cost is slightly higher than any of the saws so far mentioned.

The Disston No. 112 Saw is exactly like the No. 12 except that it is made skew-back.

Lengths (inches):
Crosscut -- 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28.
Rip -- 24, 26, 28.


Information taken from Disston 1926 catalog:

No. 12 1924 catalog illustration
No. 12 Saw

Many carpenters and saw users who take pride in having exceptionally well-made and well-finished tools are users of this saw. The No. 12 has a straight-back, full-width blade of Disston-made Steel. This blade is extra tempered and will hold its cutting edge longer than the ordinary saw. It is ground one gauge thinner than other handsaws, for special clearance, and therefore requires little set. The handle is made of selected apple-wood and is carefully carved and polished. This saw is of the best Disston material and workmanship and is very attractively finished. Its cost is slightly higher than any of the saws so far mentioned, except the D-115 and D-15. It is made in lengths from 18 to 28 inches cross-cut teeth, and 24, 26, and 28 inches rip teeth.

No. 112.  The Disston No. 112 Saw is exactly like the No. 12 except that it is made skew-back. Sizes: Cross-cut, 20 inches to 26 inches; rip, 26 inches.


The No. 112 does not appear in the 1927 catalog.


Information taken from Disston 1927 catalog:

Choosing a saw for general use is largely a matter of personal preference. The following Disston Saws are all popular. One of the wide-blade patterns or the Lightweight patterns will have the temper, weight, and balance that just suits you.

More and more each year sawing is in lighter work. Carpenters and saw users do not have as much heavy sawing to do. Modern building methods have taken a great deal of it away. Therefore, Disston Lightweight Saws, having less weight and less width to the blade, are very popular. They are easier to handle on many of today's sawing jobs.

No. 12 1927 catalog illustration
No. 12 Saw
Many carpenters and saw users who take pride in having exceptionally well-made and well-finished tools are users of this saw. The No. 12 has a straight-back, full-width blade of Disston-made Steel. This blade is extra tempered and will hold its cutting edge longer than the ordinary saw. It is ground one gauge thinner than other handsaws, for special clearance, and therefore requires little set. The handle is made of selected applewood and is carefully carved and polished. This saw is of the best Disston material and workmanship and is very attractively finished. Its cost is slightly lower than the D-15 and D-115.
Lengths (inches):
Crosscut -- 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28.
Rip -- 24, 26, 28.

No. 12 lightweight 1927 catalog illustration
No. 12 Lightweight (Ship) Pattern

This saw is made of the same material as the wide-blade No. 12 and also is taper ground extra-thin for clearance. The narrow blade which measures 6 3/4 inches at the butt and 1½ inches at the point makes it a favorite with saw users who prefer a Lightweight (ship) pattern saw. This saw, in the Lightweight pattern, is a favorite with mechanics and all who want a good tool. The extra tempered blade holds its cutting edge for a long time. In cross-cut teeth 24 inches and 26 inches. Rip: 24 in. and 26 in.

Information taken from Disston 1928 brochure:

D-12 1928 catalog illustration
D-12 Regular Pattern Straight Back

Blade made narrower. Improved pattern of applewood handle, carved, new weatherproof finish.
Nickel-plated screws. More beauty. Disston true-taper grind.
Price, 26" length, $4.50 each
  length points
cross-cut 20" 10, 11
22" 8, 9, 10, 11
24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
28" 7, 8
rip 24" 5½, 6, 7
26" 5, 5½, 6
28"

D-12 lightweight 1928 catalog illustration
D-12 Lightweight Pattern Straight Back

Improved pattern of applewood handle, carved, new weatherproof finish.
Nickel-plated screws. Greater beauty. Disston true-taper grind.
Price, 26" length, $4.50 each
  length points
cross-cut 24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
rip 24" 7
26" 5½, 6

D-112 1928 catalog illustration
D-112 Regular Pattern Skew Back

Blade made narrower, with higher polish, greater beauty.
Improved pattern of applewood handle, carved, new weatherproof finish, brass screws.
Disston true-taper grind.
Price, 26" length, $4.50 each
  length points
cross-cut 20" 10
22" 10
24" 9, 10
26" 7, 8, 10
rip 26"

Information taken from Disston 1929 catalog:

D-12 1929 catalog illustration
D-12

Lightweight Pattern, Straight-back Improved pattern of applewood handle, carved,
new weatherproof finish, nickel-plated screws. Disston true-taper grind.

length points retail (each)
Crosscut 24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11  
26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 $4.50
Rip 24" 7  
26" 5½, 6 $4.50

Disston Regular Pattern Saws
(Standard Width)

To those who prefer Regular Pattern (Standard Width) saws, we can supply the old-time favorites, improved in every feature, including Disston True-Taper grinding, thinner blades, weatherproof-finish handles with covered tops, larger hand holes, etc. Disston Regular Pattern saws are made in all required lengths and points. The numbers of these old-time favorites are D-115, D-8, D-120, and D-17 in skew-back patterns, and D-12, D-16, and D-7 in straight-back.


Information taken from Disston 1930 catalog:

D-12 1930 catalog illustration
D-12 Lightweight, Straight-back.

Improved pattern of applewood handle, carved; new weatherproof finish.
Nickel-plated screws. Greater beauty. Disston true-taper grind.

  Length Points
Crosscut 26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Rip 26" 5½, 6

Information taken from Disston 1932 catalog:

D-12 1932 catalog illustration
No. D-12 Lightweight Pattern Straight-back

The Disston No. D-12 Lightweight Straight-back Pattern Saw is the same quality as D-12 Regular Pattern Hand Saw, shown below. Used by mechanics everywhere for fine finishing work. It is a fast, smooth, easy-cutting saw; made with thin back and is true-taper ground by a new Disston process. Tooth edge is same gauge throughout; blade tapers evenly from butt to point and from tooth edge to back.

Blade of Disston steel, hardened and tempered; high polish; striped back. Cover-top handle, seasoned applewood; full carved; comfortable grip; Disston weatherproof finish. Five nickel-plated screws.

Length
of Blade
Points to inch
Cross-cut
Points to
inch Rip
Weight
per doz.
Retail Price
per doz.
26 inches 7, 8, 9, 10 5½, 6 22 lbs. $51.00

Packed 1/3 dozen in box.
Width of 26-inch blade: Butt 6 3/8 inches; Point 1½ inches.


D-12 1932 catalog illustration
D-12 Regular Pattern Straight-back

The Disston No. D-12 Regular Pattern Straight-back Saw has been accepted for years as the standard of quality in saw making. Its thin back and true-taper grind make it cut fast, easy, and true. Tooth edge is same gauge throughout; blade tapers evenly from butt to point and from tooth edge to back. Blade of Disston steel, hardened and tempered; high polish; striped back.

Cover-top handle, seasoned applewood; full carved; comfortable grip; Disston weatherproof finish. 26-inch length has five nickel-plated screws. Twenty-four inch has four nickel-plated screws.

Length
of Blade
Points to inch
Cross-cut
Points to
inch Rip
Weight
per doz.
Retail Price
per doz.
24 inches 7, 8, 9, 10   20 lbs. $51.00
26 inches 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 5½, 6 24 lbs. $51.00

Packed 1/3 dozen in box.
Width of 26-inch blade: Butt 7½ inches; Point 2¼ inches;
24-inch size in proportion.


Information taken from Disston 1937 catalog:

D-12 1937 catalog illustration
D-12 Lightweight, Straight-back.

Improved pattern of applewood handle, carved; new weatherproof finish.
Nickel-plated screws. Greater beauty. Disston true-taper grind.

  Length Points
Crosscut 24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Rip 26" 5½, 6


Information taken from Disston 1939 catalog:

D-12 1945 catalog illustration
D-12 Lightweight Pattern, Straight-back

Cover-top, carved applewood handle, weatherproof finish.
Disston Steel blade, striped back, high polish, true-taper grind.

  Length Points
Crosscut 24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Rip 26" 5½, 6

D-12 1945 catalog illustration
D-12 Regular Pattern, Straight-back

Cover-top, carved applewood handle, weatherproof finish.
Disston Steel blade, striped back, high polish, true-taper grind.

  Length Points
Crosscut 24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Rip 26" 5½, 6

Information taken from Disston 1940, 1942 and 1945 catalogs:

D-12 1945 catalog illustration
D-12 Lightweight Pattern, Straight-back

Cover-top, carved applewood handle, weatherproof finish.
Disston Steel blade, striped back, high polish, true-taper grind.

  Length Points
Crosscut 24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Rip 26" 5½, 6

D-12 1945 catalog illustration
D-12 Regular Pattern, Straight-back
[same as above, except saw is 1" wider.]


Information taken from Disston 1947-50 catalogs:

D-12 catalog illustration
D-12

Lightweight Pattern Straight-back.
Used by mechanics everywhere for fine finishing work. A fast, smooth, easy-cutting saw.
Disston Steel blade -- high polish, striped back, true taper ground.
Cover top, carved handle, weatherproof finish.

length points
Crosscut 26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Rip 26"

Information taken from Disston 1951 catalog:

D-12 1951 catalog illustration
D-12

Lightweight Pattern Straight-back.
Used by mechanics everywhere for fine finishing work. A fast, smooth, easy-cutting saw.
Disston Steel blade -- high polish, striped back, true taper ground.
Cover top, carved walnut handle, weatherproof finish.

length points
Crosscut 26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Rip 26"

Information taken from Disston 1953 catalog:

D-12 1953 catalog illustration
D-12

Lightweight Pattern Straight-back.
Used by mechanics everywhere for fine finishing work. A fast, smooth, easy-cutting saw.
Disston Steel blade -- high polish, striped back, true taper ground.
Cover top, carved walnut handle, weatherproof finish.

length points
Crosscut 26" 8, 10
Rip 26"

The D-12 does not appear in the 1955 product line catalog.


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