Questions and answers from the saw shop: replacement plane irons, antique saws, and more!

Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works


It’s time again to gather up and answer some of the questions I’ve been seeing come through from search engine hits on both the blog and the sharpening service web site. Here we go!

1. (question about finding a replacement iron and chip breaker for a Fulton plane)

In general, most of the bench planes derived from Leonard Bailey’s patents are clones (produced are the patents expired) of the original Stanley planes and will happily use Stanley irons and chip breakers (still being produced new by Stanley and third parties, or look for vintage carbon steel irons for the best edge) and follow the Stanley sizing. Match the width of the replacement iron to the plane and you’re good to go!

2. (question about whether a crosscut saw is an antique)

There are a couple of simple ways to visually separate classic saws from modern junk. The presence of a nib on the back of a handsaw blade near the toe dates to pre-1900. Saws that are too shiny or refuse to rust are a clue (lots of chrome, basically stainless steel) to ones to avoid. The old high carbon steel blades are generally dull gray and, even when fairly polished, will not mirror up like “chromey” ones. Finally, saws with light blonde finishes on the handles are a red flag.

3. (question about replacement saw handles)

Saw makers varied handle shapes and mountings radically between models of saws and even between years in the same model of saw. I have the same model of Disston saw in 3 different generations with 3, 4, and 5 handle screws. This makes it unlikely to find a bolt on handle replacement for a saw.

SwiftWater Edge Tool Works provides mobile sharpening services across Maine and mail in services around the world for handsaws, carbide blades, planer knives, hand planes, chain saws, knives, scissors, hair clippers, router bits, and almost any blade!


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