Friday, 11 September 2009

Congratulations - IT'S TWINS!...

I finally found my match to the 12" Jackson Dovetail Rip I purchased just over two years ago. They are actually very close in appearance; same length, same medallion, same handle. It would be a safe bet to say they were both manufactured at roughly the same time, somewhere near 1880.

Jackson saws were made by Disston as their secondary line, the two I just matched being the cheaper example of the Disston No. 70. While called "seconds", which makes them sound rather, oh, I don't know, cheap, the research I have done on this line tell a different story.

Disston produced a line of saws at a lesser cost than his first line, naming this line "Jackson by Disston". Because old Mr. Disston was, well, Mr. Disston, he was careful about where he cut the costs. With his obsession for quality and maintaining his name, he found only two areas where he could bring the price down; the finishing of the steel and in the wood used for the handle. The Jackson line had their handles made from beech, a cheaper wood than the apple used in the first line, but he used the exact same processes to produce both, so their shapes are exactly the same. That addiction to quality also forced him to use the same material and manufacturing processes for the blades used in both lines, except where the Disston line received a final polishing, the Jacksons blades got only a bit of dusting. Even their backs came off the same line, but once produced, the Disstons had theirs brass plated while the Jacksons were left in bare steel. The results are two lines of saws of the exact same quality, one just being a little prettier than the other.

After 125-odd years later, though, who can tell the difference? The Disstons' brass plating on the vast majority that I have seen has long worn away. Their blades that received all that extra polishing are just as dull, as the patina of these fancy saws now matches the ones on these examples of its poorer brother. While the Jacksons sell for less, then as they do now, I can attest to the fact that they are rarer, having spent the last two years looking for the match to the rip cut I bought from Woodnut4 on eBay. I found this match on eBay, purchased it for $47 and had it shipped directly to Woodnut4. For an additional $50, Daryl cleaned it up and sharpened it as a cross, bringing back its performance to equal what it once was when first produced.

The rip Jackson was my pride and joy as working with it was beyond anything I had in my hands before. Now I am doubly proud, because now I have an actual pair of them.

While not quite the match I was hoping for, I also picked up another Disston No. 68. The first one has a 12" blade while the new addition's is only 10". The etching on the one I just received is a little different than the first one as well, and as it displays a font that is a little flashier, I believe it to be the oldest of the two.

I purchased these saws to do duty while making smaller items, and frankly, I very happy that they are different. The latest purchase, being smaller, has made me realize that it is better suited to my needs, so now I will go along merrily looking for a 10" match for it.

Obviously, for me, finding these things is just as big a kick as using them.




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