This Disston saw tote was in really poor shape, in with some junk in one of the outbuildings. During some lulls at work last week, I sanded it up to 1200 grit. Not because 1200 grit was what I thought I should do, but because I had the grits on hand to get there, was passing time, and I could. Then I applied some paste-wax so it has a little protection, anyway.
The thought that went into these totes impresses me. It was made with every part of your hand in mind. For example, the extra hole is flat on the side your thumb goes, but curves around on the side your index finger goes. Seems obvious when you hold it, but I don’t see this level of attention to totes now.
Looking at the medallion, if I’ve read the material at the Disstonian Institute correctly, this tote belonged to a saw manufactured between 1896 and 1917 (medallion page). I was quite surprised at that – expected it to be much more recent.
I recently joined the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. I don’t think of myself (yet, anyway) as a tool collector; I appreciate and like to use old tools. This organization does a lot of good work, and membership is $25 a year. So if you agree, please join. Figure they can use our support.
I was thinking about the MWTCA just now, as not being a collector, I clean old tools very differently than a collector would. I treat old tools exactly the same as I would a new Lie-Nielsen plane that had been left outside several Winters to rust. I don’t hesitate to take an old tool to the wire brush attachment on my bench grinder. I’ve taken a Dremel with a grinding stone attached to remove rust from a plane before. I’m interested in getting them to work, and I think that rust and pitting are contagious elements that are worth radical surgery if necessary to remove.
Other than the brass screws, I don’t believe I did anything too radical to this tote. Though a collector might shudder at what I do when I get around to the saws with totes that still have some of the old grime and patina on them.
I’m glad we have collectors. I’m not likely to end up with items not already preserved for future generations, so my job, I think, is to make these tools work again. Patina be damned.