From the Saw Shop Wall of Shame: chainsaw


Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

Do I really need to tell anyone NOT to start a chainsaw this way? 🙂

chainsaw darwin

Visit me at any of the following locations:

B&G Treasures, 11 Depot St, Norridgewock, ME (Mondays)

Tractor Supply, Skowhegan, ME (Tuesday)

Somerset Woods turnout, Canaan Rd (Rt 2), Skowhegan,ME (Wednesday)

Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1 & Log Cabin Rd, Arundel, ME (Saturday)

Fryeburg Flea Market (Fryeburg Fairgrounds), Fryeburg, ME
(Sundays, Memorial Day thru end of September)

298 W Front St, Skowhegan, ME (all other days)

If you’re looking for a special tool, please drop me an
email and let me know and I’ll restore one just for you!

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!

Questions and answers from the Saw Shop: tool steel temper, pitted saw blades, and more!


Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

Wow, the questions are coming fast and furious!

1. (question about chisel turning blue when sharpening)

Discoloring the steel of any tool when sharpening means that you’ve overheated the steel enough to impact the temper of it. Discolored (usually blue) or “burned” spots are likely to be soft, not take and/or hold a good edge, and be easy to damage in use.

So, how does “burning” steel tools happen? The usual culprit is high speed grinders. Grinders can be used to sharpen most straight edged tools but they require a light touch and good judgement, it’s very easy to fatally mess up a tool on a grinder. Get too aggressive with the blade on too coarse a wheel at too high speed and you’ll burn every time.

2. (question about smoothing a pitted saw blade)

The bottom line is, don’t. Attempting to remove enough metal to smooth a pitted saw blade will accomplish nothing but weakening the blade. If the pitting is light (less than 25% of the blade plate thickness), leave it and live with it. If the pitting is heavy, scrap the blade.

3. (question about how many teeth can be missing from a 24T carbide saw blade before it’s unsafe).

None. As a rule, blades 40T and up can be missing one carbide without impacting the blade operation objectionably. Missing a carbide on a 24T blade not only produces lousy results from the blade, it greatly increases the chance of kickback.

Visit me at any of the following locations:

B&G Treasures, 11 Depot St, Norridgewock, ME (Mondays)

Tractor Supply, Skowhegan, ME (Tuesday)

Somerset Woods turnout, Canaan Rd (Rt 2), Skowhegan,ME (Wednesday)

Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1 & Log Cabin Rd, Arundel, ME (Fridays)

Fryeburg Flea Market (Fryeburg Fairgrounds), Fryeburg, ME
(Sundays, Memorial Day thru end of September)

298 W Front St, Skowhegan, ME (all other days)

If you’re looking for a special tool, please drop me an
email and let me know and I’ll restore one just for you!

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!

Thoughts from the Saw Shop: vintage tools, modern tools, and “made in China”


Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

So, there I was a week or so ago, wandering through the back room of one of my favorite second hand shops, one of my regular stops, listening for vintage tools to call out to me to be rescued. I was looking over a handsaw when my attention was caught by a man just a bit down from me, muttering over what I thought was quite a nice old shovel. Not that I restore shovels, mind you, but this one had a great early handle and a blade that looked hardly worn at all, as if it was just tucked in the corner 70 years ago and forgotten about. The man was muttering over the handle rivets being a bit loose and some light cracking in the shaft of the handle.

Being the dedicated old tool guy I am, I spoke up and noted that all he needed was a 3lb or so hammer and something solid to strike against (I use my anvil) to tighten the rivets. I also remarked that the shaft cracks were just the result of the wood being left unfinished for so long and a nice treatment of boiled linseed oil would make that wood last another 70-80 years at least. Away he went to the register with a great shovel and a little piece of history.

This incident got me to thinking. We’ve not only forgotten the skilled craftsmanship aspect to tools (ie sharpening crosscut saws) but we’ve forgotten even the basics of maintaining our tools and this is one thing that has driven the rise of the cheap modern junk mostly imported from China. Where the old timers would have taken 5 minutes with hammer and anvil and tightened those loose handle rivets, people today are ready to throw away or not buy a great quality tool over it. Handle finish wears or deteriorates and is left that way until the wood disintegrates rather than spend 15-20 minutes a year treating it with linseed oil. What a waste, and you wonder why we’re shipping all of our money over to China.

I’ve always figured that every one of my restored, quality, vintage tools that goes out means dozens of “made in China” junk that don’t get purchased, but even looking after a Chinese made tool can mean at least a dozen more that don’t get purchased. Just simply looking after what you have for tools is a force multiplier in the fight against the tide of cheap crap tools.

You don’t have to buy my top quality vintage “made in USA” restored tools (although I wish you would 🙂 ), just take care of what you have already and get the maximum life out of it. Stop and think about it the next time you throw away any tool that could be brought back to life. Stop feeding the Chinese trade monster by wasting your tools and we’ll all be better off for it.

Visit me at any of the following locations:

B&G Treasures, 11 Depot St, Norridgewock, ME (Mondays)

Tractor Supply, Skowhegan, ME (Tuesday)

Somerset Woods turnout, Canaan Rd (Rt 2), Skowhegan,ME (Wednesday)

Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1 & Log Cabin Rd, Arundel, ME (Fridays)

Fryeburg Flea Market (Fryeburg Fairgrounds), Fryeburg, ME
(Sundays, Memorial Day thru end of September)

298 W Front St, Skowhegan, ME (all other days)

If you’re looking for a special tool, please drop me an
email and let me know and I’ll restore one just for you!

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!