Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Disston Number 9 Backsaw - A Lucky Find

My hometown is Brisbane, and we often travel there - as I have oceans of family in that lovely city.

On one of our recent trips, we were making good time, so we planned a late lunch and pulled off the highway into the little hamlet of Bangalow.
There is a particular park that has been a stopping spot for us for decades.
Well, on this occasion, the town was busy - no car parks anywhere - not even down by the old railway station.
We drove around and around before spotting a vacancy at the bottom of the hotel carpark.
For Patrons Only didn't worry us, as we were going inside to order drinks in any case.

Unknown to us all these years, was the fact that we had parked next to the back gate of HEATH'S OLD WARES & COLLECTABLES

After lunch the emporium begged us to go see.


Apart from having cornered the market in old wooden ladders, Heath had aisles full of wonders.

It was down this next aisle that I discovered a milk churn full of saws:


And among these saws there was this:

Needless to say, it didn't look this good at the time, and it has had a set and a sharpen since, but it was an unmistakable Disston Number 9 Backsaw.

The handle was complete, with no cracks or chips out of the spurs.

Even the brass saw nuts were in good shape.

The blade was straight and had only the slightest suggestion of rust dimpling.
This was a must have!
A quick check of my wallet showed that the moths had long ago vacated, and I was in the position of convincing my beloved of what an awesome buy this was, and could she go find an ATM while I guarded this piece of royalty of the sawmaker's art.

Long story short - it travelled with us to Brisbane, where I bored every one of my relatives who had not already been warned to avoid me, on what a miraculous find this had been, and how hard it was to find one of these in the wild.  Maybe they are common somewhere, but this is the first that I have seen in thirty years of sniffing out old tools.

There is a little more on Disston Backsaws HERE.


I have now more backsaws than I regularly use and a cull is in order.
It has prompted me to consider for my next BLOG post a small presentation on Backsaws from the perspective of usefulness.
Stay tuned.

In the meantime I am one happy little vegemite.

Interestingly, Peter has responded to this post with an application for a patent by William J Reagan, issued on December 8 1874 for an Improvement in Handles for Saws, that contains the recess for the thumb.
The inventor thought that this same improvement could be added to other tool handles such as those on planes.
The link can be found here:

Patent number: 157634 Filing date: Nov 14, 1874 Issue date: Dec 8, 1874

Many thanks Peter.

NOTE: - All images used from other websites are acknowledged under each image.


  1. Tom your not nice I mean really you know now every woody for miles and those who pass by will be calling in. This poor fellow will be sold out in days.

    Good score.

    Have fun in the sun its still raining down here.

  2. Ha Ray - we have had over 25 inches of rain in the last month.
    Getting mouldy up here.
    I hope woodies and tool hunters drop in to Bangalow to Heath's - it is a real experience.
    And there are plenty of things that ladies like to look at as well, so both partners can enjoy.

  3. Those aren't common anywhere! Looks like 1896-1917, and she's gorgeous. Very nice find.


  4. Tom,
    I was looking for something else and found this!
    Peter Mc

  5. Many thanks Peter.
    And here I was thinking that it was Disston original.
    Actually, the Disston has scalloping for the forefinger as well.
    In spite of its lovely appearance, I am having trouble feeling comfortable with my right hand position on this saw in use.
    After decades of using a three fingered grip with the forefinger extended, I am finding that my muscle memory is not comfortable with the change that this handle imposes.
    It might take some time to get used to using it.

  6. Very nice find Tom. Looking forward to seeing you use it on your next project!


  7. Looks like GREAT shop to visit. I would have loved being on the trip to sift through the old treasures.