Disston D-8 Handsaws

D-8 handsaw
D-8 Handsaw

D-8 Saw with Thumbhole
D-8 Handsaw with Thumbhole Handle for Two-Handed Use


Choice Handsaw

 The No. 80 "Choice" Handsaw is the beginning of the D-8 story

The Disston No. 80 "Choice" handsaw was introduced in 1874 featuring a trend setting skewback blade design that broke American sawmaking away from traditions established in England. This saw was sold only briefly. Around 1880 the handle was improved and the saw's name was changed to D-8. The handle was "let-in" by cutting away part of the blade and having a curved slot in the handle instead of the typical straight slot for the blade. The shape of the D-8's blade is approximated in the cut-away illustration below: D-8 handle The shape of the D-8 saw and the angle of the handle still look modern over 125 years after they were designed. The applewood handle places the user's hand closer to the work and at a more comfortable angle for the wrist.

Choice Handle
Choice Handle The No. 80 "Choice" had the skewback shape without the improved saw nuts that made the let-in handle work to its best advantage. The saw had split or spanner-style nuts that had been in use for a few decades. This saw has a unique serrated-edge medallion. The slogan etched next to the "Choice" name reads, "We defy the world to produce its equal."

Choice Slogan

                        
Choice Etch

Thanks to Gil Chesbro for the photos.


Pre-1928 D-8 Etch Post-1928 D-8 Etch

The D-8 legend goes: Henry Disston sketched his design on the factory floor to show his engineers what he had in mind. The theory put forth by the company in 1874 advertising was that the "peculiar formation of the blade actually stiffen[s] and strengthen[s] it in a remarkable degree." Just how less steel makes the blade stiffer and stronger is a good question, and by 1918 Disston's catalog said exactly the opposite:

"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."
Male thrust pressure aside, the skewback is a good looking saw. The two photos of etches show the D-8 etch: the left one is before 1928, the one on the right is after 1928.

The D-8 was the first Disston saw to use the letter "D" in its designation. The D-8's handle (and that of the No. 120 ACME) had the unique "cover-top" feature for decades before any other saw. It was not open at the top like other handles, providing an additional surface on which the blade would bear, making the fit of the handle tighter and preventing rocking of the blade within the handle. Other Disston saws adopted the feature in 1928, but the D-8 and No. 120 had it first, beginning in 1875.

D-8 handle, pre-WWII

D-8 panel saws were available in lengths from 16 to 24 inches at different times over the course of the saw's manufacture.

D-8 Panel Saw

Thumbhole Handle

The most obvious feature of some D-8's is the extra hole in the handle. Offered on 26" and longer ripsaws from the about 1880 until about 1950, the Dual-Grip or thumbhole-handled saw was designed for those laborious rip cuts. The handle is gripped normally with the lead hand and the thumb of the second hand is put through the thumbhole. The fingers of the hand are then wrapped across the top of the saw handle.

The thumbhole handle was also offered on 28" and 30" crosscut saws for a time, although its usefulness on a crosscut is questionable. When crosscutting wood with the saw, your other hand normally would hold the board. The hole for your lead hand is smaller than normal saws, making it necessary to hold the saw with three fingers in the hand hole. This was considered the proper method to grip a handsaw at the time. If you are left handed, the handle was not designed with you in mind, as it is not symmetrical. That said, it's an interesting design, and every collector seems to have one. Similar handles were put on D-100 and No. 120 "Acme" saws as well.


For a time in the late 1870's and early 1880's, Henry Disston and Sons exhibited their fierce protection of patents related to their saws, which were copied by other manufacturers. Patent dates were stamped into the wood of this D-8 saw and some Centennial-handled No. 7 saws.

The five dates shown are as follows:
5/12/74  #150,678 to Christopher Eisenhardt for the space in the hand hole to receive the user's left thumb for rip sawing;
1/19/75  #158,921 to Henry Disston for the cut-out in the saw blade to receive a close-up handle;
9/21/75  #167,996 to Henry Disston for the cover-top handle design that wedged the blade in a round recess in the handle;
8/29/76  #181,648 to Henry Disston for the saw nut design;
11/18/79 (it's not clear which patent is applicable to the D-8 saw).

D-8 Patent Dates


This is the typical D-8 handle after 1928, with the color varying with the wood species and coloring under the lacquer. Handles can be anywhere from blonde to brown to red, depending on when it was made. The handles were apple until about 1947, when they were changed to beech, as these handles demonstrate. The D-8 was sold until shortly after the acquisition of Disston by HK Porter in 1955.

D-8 Handle D-8 Handle D-8 Handle
D-8 Handle D-8 Handle D-8 Handle



Information taken from Disston 1876 catalog:

No. 80 "Choice" 1876 catalog illustration
No. 80 "Choice"

Spring Steel, warranted polished apple handle.

 Wholesale
 per Dozen
Length
26" $24
28" $28
30" $32




Information taken from Disston 1890 catalog:

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

D-8 1890 catalog illustration
D-8 Rip Saw


This cut represents the best Rip Saw made; its advantages are numerous; it has a double hand hole in the handle. and a matrix for the right hand thumb; the handle is let into the blade, which ground to run free; the teeth are made to correspond exactly with the strength at butt and point; that is, the teeth are graduated from butt to point, and it requires little or no set. The facts justify the above assertion.


 Wholesale
 per Dozen
Length
26" $22
28" $25
30" $28





D-8 1890 catalog illustration
D-8 Handsaw
This saw combines all the valuable improvements in handsaws that have been made by us of late. The first and most important is the hollow or skew-back, the success of which can best be attested by the number sold. The peculiar shape of the butt or heel, coupled with the new method of fastening to the handle, gives a full stroke of the blade without fear of catching or hooking in the work; and as the handle is put further on the blade you have a full stop on the proper point and a greater command over your saw, by reason of being two inches nearer the point, which must give more power.
The saw being let into the handle on a circle, has a perfect bearing, which, with the new screws, make it stronger and almost impossible to work loose, and avoids the unsightly gap that is seen on the back of the old style handle. All the above features are patented.


 Wholesale
 per Dozen
Length
16" $14.50
18" $16.00
20" $17.50
22" $19.50
24" $21.00
26" $22.00
28" $25.00
30" $28.00




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.
D-8 Illustration
D-8

Skewback Blade, Spring Steel, Warranted, Apple Handle, Polished Edge, Brass Screws.

 Wholesale
 per Dozen
Length
16" $14.75
18" $16.25
20" $18
22" $20
24" $21.50
26" $22.50
28" $25.50
30" $28.50


Information taken from Disston 1918 catalog:

D-8 Illustration
D-8
This is the original Skewback Saw, and has proved to be the most popular saw in the world. Skew-back, Refined Crucible Steel blade, Warranted, Apple handle, full Polished, Brass screws. These Saws have all the latest improvements in hand saws, and are warranted superior. They combine the popular "Skewback," the peculiar shaped butt or heel which, with the new screws, make it almost impossible to work loose from the handle, and gives the full sweep of the Saw without the possibility of catching in the work. This saw was originated and patented by HENRY DISSTON in 1874. Thumb-hole in handle of 26" rip, and larger; also in 28" hand.
Manufactured only in the following lengths and points:
inches points wholesale
Crosscut      
16 9, 10 $14.75 per dozen
18 9, 10, 11 $16.25
20 8, 9, 10, 11 $18.00
22 8, 9, 10, 11 $20.00
24 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 $21.50
26 5½, 6, 6½, $22.50
7, 8, 9, 10, 11  
28 5, 6, 7, 8 $25.50
Rip      
20 7 $18.00
22 7 $20.00
24 5, 5½, 6, 7 $21.50
26 4½, 5, 5½, 6 $22.50
28 3½, 4, 4½, 5, 5½, 6 $25.50



Information taken from Disston 1922 catalog:

D-8 1922 catalog illustration
D-8
This is the best and most popular Disston Saw for general, all-around work. It is "the saw most carpenters use." The D-8 is the original skew-back saw originated and patented by Henry Disston in 1874. The shape of the blade and the position of the handle place the hand closer to the work, and, therefore, give the user better command and guidance of the saw, allow him to make a full stroke, and give more power to his cutting strokes.

When introduced, this saw created a demand which has constantly increased until now there are more Disston D-8 Saws in use than any other one type. It is medium in price. The blade is of the famous Disston-made Steel, taper ground. The handle is of apple-wood, nicely polished, and is fitted to the blade with five brass screws. The D-8 is regularly made in lengths from 16 to 30 inches with cross-cut or rip teeth.

D-30. This is the same saw as the D-8 except that it is made with a straight back.
Lengths (inches):
16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30.
D-30 Handsaw

This is what the D-30 handsaw looked like.


D-30 Handle




Information taken from Disston 1924 and 1926 catalogs:

D-8 1924 catalog illustration
D-8
This is the best and most popular Disston saw for general, all-around work. It is "the saw most carpenters use." The D-8 is the original skewback saw originated and patented by Henry Disston in 1874. The shape of the blade and the position of the handle places the hand closer to the work, and, therefore, give the user better command and guidance of the saw, allowing him to make a full stroke, and give more power to his cutting stroke.

When introduced, this saw created a demand which has constantly increased until now there are more Disston D-8 Saws in use than any other one type. It is medium in price. The blade is of the famous Disston-made Steel, taper ground. The handle is of applewood, nicely polished, and is fitted to the blade with five brass screws. The D-8 is regularly made in lengths from 16 to 28 inches cross-cut teeth, and 20 to 28 inches rip teeth. (... 22 to 28 inches rip teeth. [1926])
Lengths (inches):
Crosscut -- 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28.
Rip -- 20, 22, 24, 26, 28. (1924)
Rip -- 22, 24, 26, 28. (1926)



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.


D-8 1927 catalog illustration
D-8 Saw
This wide-blade Disston saw is one of the best and most popular saws for general, all around work. It is the original skew-back saw originated and patented by Henry Disston in 1874.

When introduced, this saw created such a demand that it was not long before it became "the saw most carpenters use."

Saw users who prefer a wide-blade saw find the shape of the blade and the position of the handle places the band closer to the work. This gives the user better command and guidance of the saw, allows him to make a full stroke, and gives more power to his cutting strokes.

The blade is of the famous Disston-made Steel, taper ground. The handle is of apple-wood, nicely polished and is fitted to the blade with five brass screws. The D-8 is regularly made in lengths from 16 inches to 28 inches cross-cut teeth; and 22 inches to 28 inches rip teeth. Slightly lower in cost than the D-23.
Lengths (inches):
Crosscut -- 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28.
Rip -- 22, 24, 26, 28.




D-8 1927 lightweight catalog illustration
D-8 Lightweight (Ship) Pattern


This is a popular saw with men working in lighter work who prefer a skew-back saw with less weight and less width to the blade. It has the same features and made of the same material as the wide-blade D-8. It is, however, a lighter saw and on many jobs easier to use. Made in lengths of 26 inches cross-cut teeth and 26 inches rip teeth.




Information taken from Disston 1928 brochure:

D-8 1928 catalog illustration
D-8 Regular Pattern Skew Back
Higher polish, greater beauty. Applewood handle, with new weatherproof finish.
Brass screws. Disston true-taper grind.
Price, 26" length, $3.45 each

  length points
cross-cut 16" 9, 10
18" 9, 10, 11
20" 8, 9, 10, 11
22" 8, 9, 10, 11
24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
28" 5, 6, 7, 8
rip 22" 7
24" 5½, 6, 7
26" 4½, 5, 5½, 6
28" 4½, 5, 5½, 6



D-8 Lightweight 1928 catalog illustration
D-8 Lightweight Pattern Skew Back
Differs from D-8 Regular Pattern in width of blade only. Higher polish, more beautiful.
Applewood handle, new weatherproof finish.
Brass screws. Disston true-taper grind.
Price, 26" length, $3.45 each

  length points
cross-cut 26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
rip 26"


Information taken from Disston 1929 catalog:

D-8 1929 catalog illustration
D-8 Lightweight Pattern, Skewback.

This is one of the most popular saws in the entire Disston line. Improved pattern of applewood handle, new weatherproof finish, brass screws. Disston true-taper grind.
length points retail (each)
Crosscut 26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 $3.45
Rip 26" $3.45




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 1932 catalog:

D-8 1932 catalog illustration
D-8 Lightweight Pattern, Skewback.

The Disston No. D-8 Lightweight Skew-back Pattern Saw differs from the No. D-8 Regular Pattern, shown below, in weight and width of blade, only. Preferred by saw users for its light weight. Thin back, true-taper ground by a new Disston process. Tooth edge is the 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, applewood; comfortable grip; Disston weatherproof finish; five brass 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 21 lbs. $39.00


Packed 1/3 dozen in box. Width of 26-inch blade:
Butt 6 1/4 inches; Point 1½ inches.




D-8 1932 catalog illustration
D-8 Regular Pattern, Skewback.



The Disston No. D-8 Regular Skew-back Pattern Saw, the "Saw Most Carpenters Use", is the original skew-back saw. Patented by Henry Disston, June 23, 1874. Best known and largest selling saw. Thin back, true-taper ground by a new Disston process. Tooth edge is the 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, applewood; Disston weatherproof finish; five brass screws in 26-inch length; four brass screws in 24-inch and shorter lengths. Twenty-six inch rip saw has thumb hole in handle.
Length
of Blade
Points to inch
Cross-cut
Points to
inch Rip
Weight
per doz.
Retail Price
per doz.
20 inches 8, 10, 12   14 lbs. $36.00
22 inches 8, 10, 12 7 17 lbs. 36.00
24 inches 7, 8, 9, 10 6, 7 20 lbs. 39.00
26 inches 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 5, 5½, 6 24 lbs. 39.00


Packed 1/3 dozen in box. Width of 26-inch blade:
Butt 7 1/8 inches; Point 2 11/16 inches; other lengths in proportion.




Information taken from Disston 1937 catalog:

D-8 Lightweight, Skewback

Differs from D-8 Regular Pattern in width of blade only. High polish, beautiful finish.
Applewood handle; new weatherproof finish; brass screws. Disston true-taper grind.
Crosscut:
26" -- 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 points.
Rip:
26"-- 5½ and 6 points.



D-8 Regular Pattern, Skew-back

Higher polish; greater beauty. Apple-wood handle, with new weatherproof finish.
Brass screws. Disston true-taper grind.

  Length Points
Crosscut 20" 8, 10, 12
22" 8, 10, 12
24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Rip 22" 7
24" 6, 7
26" 5, 5½, 6




Information taken from Disston 1939, 1940, 1942, and 1945 catalogs:

D-8 1945 catalog illustration
D-8 Lightweight, Skew-back

Differs from D-8 Regular Pattern in width of blade only. Cover-top applewood handle,
weatherproof finish. Disston Steel blade, polished, striped back, true-taper ground.

Cross-cut: 26"-- 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 points.
Rip: 26"-- 5½ and 6 points.




D-8 1945 catalog illustration
D-8 Regular Pattern, Skew-back.

The D-8 Lightweight differs from the D-8 Regular in width of blade only.
Cover-top applewood handle, weatherproof finish.
Disston Steel blade, polished, striped back, true-taper ground.
The original skew-back saw.

  Length Points
Crosscut 20" 8, 10, 12
22" 8, 10, 12
24" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
26" 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Rip 22" 7
24" 6, 7
26" 5, 5½, 6




Information taken from Disston 1947-51 catalogs:

D8 catalog illustration
D-8 Medium Pattern, Skew-back

Designed for users who prefer a medium weight, skewback pattern saw.
Disston Steel blade, polished, striped back, true taper ground. Cover-top handle, weatherproof finish.

  Length Points
Crosscut 26" 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
24" 8, 9, 10, 11
22" 8, 10, 11
20" 10, 11
Rip 26"




Information taken from Disston 1953 and 1955 catalogs:

D8 1953 catalog illustration
D-8 Medium Pattern Skewback.

Disston steel blade, high polish, striped back, true taper ground.
Cover-top handle, weather-proof finish.

length ppi
Crosscut 20" 10
22" 10
26" 8, 10, 11
Rip 26"



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