[The following is text copied from a Disston publication: The Disston Saw, Tool and File Book, ©1921.]



The growth and success of any industry depend largely upon the policies of its founders. In proportion as the breadth of opportunities for the future is recognized so does an enterprise develop on broad lines or narrow. No product can make a reputation and build up any sizable sale for itself unless it be of really high quality. And conversely, very seldom does a good article fail to create a demand for itself.

Henry Disston knew all that, over eighty years ago, when he founded the Disston Saw Works. Although there was a strong prejudice against American made tools, he knew that his product would be good enough to overcome that feeling. His first demand was for flawless steel. In order to be positive of that, to be sure that it always ran true to specifications, he built his own steel mill. Then he sought better treatment, especially in regard to temper. Finally lie must have the most expert workmanship and finish.

Bringing all operations from the making of the steel to the finished article under his personal supervision gave Henry Disston his quality product. He never allowed the standard to fall. The Disston brand has continually been the guarantee of a good tool.

And as he believed and practiced, so have his sons and grandsons. The House of Disston will always support a statement of Henry Disston's:  "If you want a saw, it is best to get one with a name on it that has a reputation. A man who has made a reputation for his goods knows its value as well as its cost, and will maintain it."

In the following pages we have attempted to explain the uses of different types of saws. Too often an amateur saw-user expects a rip saw to cut across the grain successfully, or makes some other natural mistake. It is not lack of intelligence that causes these errors, but lack of information. Many men do not even know that there is a difference between cross-cut and rip saws.

However, it is human nature for a man, who has bought a saw he didn't want, to feel a little disgruntled; for him to feel that he has been badly treated, or that the saw is not a good one.

The aim of this book is to offset that possibility.

We have given a brief description of what the different types of saws are for, whether for cabinet making or building a coal bin.

Furthermore, the demand for an article of instruction on saw filing has been demonstrated to us not only by personal inquiry and letter, but also by the return of fine quality saws from users who pronounced them defective and rendered them useless, through lack of knowledge of how to keep them in order. These conditions have led us to include instructions for the setting, filing, and general care of saws.

This information if carefully followed, should assist in keeping a saw in proper working condition. It is based on long, practical experience in manufacturing, on a study of actual conditions, and on working tests of saws in the hands of users.

There is also a brief story, "How a Saw Cuts" which is included because it has proved to be of great interest to those who have seen it.



In the following, we will attempt to give general rules to be followed in selecting a saw. These rules must be varied according to your individual tastes and requirements but we feel that a general explanation of the reasons for, and uses of, the various types of saws will be valuable, especially to the inexperienced user.

Cross-cut or Rip Saw. Hand saws are divided into two main classes, the cross-cut saw for cutting across the grain of the wood and the rip saw for ripping or cutting with the grain. The difference between these two classes of hand saws is in the shape of the teeth; one being designed to cut across the grain with an action similar to a nnmber of small knife blades, and the other for ripping apart when cutting parallel to the grain with an action like that of many chisels. A more complete explanation of these operations is given under the heading "How a Saw Cuts" on page 41.  This is the first choice to be made in selecting a saw; your decision depends on the kind of cutting to be done.

Skew-Back or Straight-Back. The terms skew-back and straight-back refer entirely to the shape of the back of the blade. The skew-back blade is cut on a curved line at the back as is illustrated in the D-8 saw, on page 9, while the straight-back blade, as the name implies, is cut on a straight line from butt to point. The advantage of one over the other is almost entirely a matter of personal preference. The skew-back blade is slightly lighter in weight. A. straight back gives the blade more "body" or stiffness. Therefore, men who use an especially heavy thrust pressure sometimes prefer the straight back saw.

What "Point" to Use. "Points to the inch" is a term used in determining the number of teeth in the cutting edge of a saw.  In measuring the number of teeth in a saw, the cutting edge is measured from point of tooth to point of tooth and we speak of the saw as having so many "points to the inch", meaning so many tooth-points to the inch. In measuring a saw blade in this way, you will find that the saw always has one more
point to the inch than complete teeth in that inch. In a Disston Rip Saw the points to the inch are graduated so that the teeth at the point of the saw are finer than those at the butt, this allows the user to start the saw in the cut easily.

The points to the inch in hand saws, either rip or cross-cut, indicate the degree of smoothness or coarseness of the cut that that particular saw will make. This smoothness or coarseness of cut is regulated entirely by the size and set of the teeth. A saw with big teeth, 5 points to the inch, for example, will make a coarser cut than a saw with small teeth, say 11 points to the inch.

In determining what point of saw will best answer your requirements, remember that a saw with a few tooth-points to the inch (say 6 or 7) will cut fast and make a comparatively rough or coarse cut. These points are commonly used for ordinary construction work and similar rough sawing. The saws with many tooth-points to the inch (10, 11, or 12) will make smooth, even cuts and are used mostly for interior finishing, furniture making, etc.

The degree of seasoning in the wood to be cut must be considered also, in determining what point to use. Green, wet wood requires a coarse saw (few points tothe inch) while a fine tooth-point saw can be used to advantage in dry, seasoned lumber.

Hand saws for cross-cutting are made in sizes varying from 5 to 12 tooth-points to the inch. The 7, 8, or 9 point saws, which are medium, are in greatest demand and are most satisfactory for ordinary work.

In rip saws for ordinary work, 5, 5 ½, or 6 points to the inch are the standard sizes and from this basis they are purchased with fewer points when fast, rough cutting is desired and with more points when careful accurate cutting is necessary.

Length of Saw to be Used. The length of a rip or cross-cut hand saw is always measured by the length of the cutting edge. For instance, a 26 inch saw weans a saw measuring 26 inches long on the cutting edge of the blade. There seems to he a general impression among the inexperienced that all hard saws for cross-cutting are 26 inches long and all rip saws 28 inches long. This is not a fact. Both cross-cut and rip saws arc made in a variety of lengths. The terms "cross-cut" and "rip" refer to the shape and style of the teeth only and not to the length of the saw.

Rip saws are regularly made in a variety of lengths: 22, 24, 26, 28, and 30 inches. The carpenter ordinarily buys a rip saw either 26 or 28 inches in length and for the ordinary user one of these two lengths usually is found to be the most satisfactory.

Cross-cut saws are made in lengths ranging 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, and 30 inches. The most popular length is 26 inches.

Cross-cut saws, 24 inches and less in length are termed panel saws. Panel saws are exactly like cross-cut saws in every respect except the length of the blade and the number of teeth. Panel saws usually have finer teeth than full size hand saws.

Various types of saws are used in the manufacture of. furniture, cabinet making, and in general construction work. The different styles, designed for particular work, arc illustrated and full described in the accompanying pages.

Testing a Saw by "Feel." The first point to be observed in the selection of a saw is to see that it "hangs" right. Grasp it by the handle and hold it in position for working, to Sec if the handle fits the hand properly. These are points of great importance for comfort and utility.

The next thing is to try the blade by bending it slightly. It should curve regularly and evenly from the point to the butt, in proportion as the width and thickness of the saw vary. All Disston saws are specially ground so that they are thin at the point and gradually increase in thickness toward the butt. It is this special taper grinding that gives the exceptional balance and stiffness to the Disston saws.

The thinner you can get a stiff saw the better; it makes a smaller kerf and takes less muscle to drive. This principal applies to the well-ground saw. There is less friction on a narrow, thin saw than on a wide one.

See that it is well set and sharpened and has a good crowning breast, which means a curved or "crowned" cutting edge, being widest near the center of the saw.

A Saw for General Use. For a hand saw of the greatest utility to the average user, we suggest the Disston D-8 (which is of good quality for average use as is fully explained on page 9) 26 inch, 8-point saw. The D-8 is a skew-back pattern, which is the choice of the majority of carpenters and woodworkers. A 24 inch saw is also a convenient length that is becoming increasingly popular with all classes of saw users. A 24 inch saw will fit in any standard size tool chest. Eight points to the inch is a medium point, being neither too fine nor too coarse, and is recommended for its general utility in ordinary work such as laying floors, repairing porches, fences, doors, etc.

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