Treasures from the rust: saws, axes, and tools, oh my!


Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Today, I spent my usual scheduled Sunday at the big area flea market on the Fryeburg Fair grounds, Fryeburg Maine. In the rare gaps between selling restored tools and sharpening (knives, handsaws, axes, 1 man crosscut saws, scissors, and more), I took a little bit of time to wander the flea market looking for restorable vintage tools for my stock, a few of which I started to clean up while I was there. Here’s a few of the things that surfaced out of the rust.

First was a pair of double bit axe heads. These 2 heads looked like they’d been laying outside for years with a thick coat of rust and dirt (even the resident axe expert had turned up his nose at them). Both heads had plenty of length left to the bits, so I took a chance on taking them when I couldn’t positively identify them. About 10 minutes for a rough cleaning with the wirebrush wheel later and the first one was revealed as a nice wintage PLUMB axe. The second one turned out to be a fairly uncommon 1922 Sager “Chemical” Axe. The edge of the Sager was so hard I trouble finding a file to touch it. Great tool!

Next to give up it’s secrets was a pre-1900 Richardson Brothers 5 tpi rip saw. This saw turned out to have an almost perfect etch and the blade cleaned beautifully except for a couple of small pitting spots.

Last of the bunch was a 28″ Disston miter box backsaw and a complete Langdon miter box. This one was a last minute “I don’t want to carry this home” sale from one of the vendors. The saw and the box both turned out to be in darned nice condition under the crud, just waiting for cleaning and sharpening.

These four items are perfect examples of great flea market tools masquerading as junk. Next time you hit the flea market, don’t pass on the rusty old tools, you never know what might just be hiding under there!

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