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Hill LATE Howel Backsaw

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jimi43

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I recently posted a group picture including a gorgeous little backsaw acquired from the estate of the famous taxidermist.... Roland Ward MORE INFO HERE



It is from the quite rare maker...Howel...or rather an apprentice after his death...one Joseph Vaughn Hill of Sun Street London.



I thought I would start a discussion on this old gent....for a number of reasons which will become evident.

I know that Chris...(adidat)...found a far better condition one of this maker at a bootfair last year...



Click on the image for the thread.

In this thread I said that I would dearly love one of these little saws...and it has taken a year...but success at last!

Just to repeat the research I did at the time...

HILL, Joseph Vaughan LONDON
64 Cromer Street, Gray’s Inn Road [also given as Judd Street] 1834-1836
5 Chichester Place, Gray’s Inn Road 1839-1863
252 Gray’s Inn Road 1864-1909
Saw maker and tool dealer, but also produced many planes marked J.V.Hill; a letter head from his early days describes him as a wholesale saw manufacturer. He was foreman to J.Howell (Howell’s own invariable spelling), planemaker of Chelsea (1806-1840), hence the marks. His use of a zigzag bordered mark is exceptionally late; his marks on saw backs are invariably more deeply struck than almost any other maker’s. Recent research by Jeff Warner has shown that his prosperity (considerable: he died a rich man) was based on his business being close to the piano-making area of London, The longevity of the firm was due to its continuance under the same name for several years after Hill’s death.
Subsequent to this research...and supported by the initial records...I was intrigued by the little dot above the word LATE in the group of incised and embossed stamps. Apparently it is not a dot but a SUN....and was used to indicate that it was at his shop in Sun Street...

Here he assembled saws from constituent parts already made by his old employer...J.Howel...and did so for quite some time relying on sales from the goodwill and reputation of the maker who gave him his skills.

Information about this "maker" is sketchy and rather contradictory in places...especially with regards to dating from the stamps. Clearly, this example was made after the demise of Mr Howel...so that sets a "from" date to 1840. As to the "to" date...I believe this to be relatively early.

There are a number of reasons for this...

Firstly, the use of the antiquated "I" instead of "J" for Joseph. And secondly...later models are stamped J.V.Hill...using the later initials.

My guess at this point is this was made almost immediately after 1840....

Now for my next discussion point. What to do with this saw.

The options are to keep it totally original and with all the war wounds. The teeth preclude the use of this saw....



One can clearly see the "skip" nature of the teeth! :mrgreen: Some are good...others lower after poor sharpening and yet more...missing entirely in ones and twos or complete rows!

Then there's the issue of the handle.....



The worst damage is obviously the top horn....gone entirely. Closer inspection of the bottom horn reveals a lack of crispness...perhaps even reshaping from a small break long ago.

The second option is to have the teeth reworked and a full sharpen. I happen to know someone who would perhaps relish the challenge that this old boy would present...and judging by the last one I had done....would make a superb job of it. I could then just use it with pride and not worry about the handle.

Thirdly...get it sharpened AND fix that top horn. It is a difficult one....



The break happened many moons ago. The owner has just trimmed it down neatly and just put it back to work. I am split on this one. I like the history of the damage...and it's certainly not uncomfortable to use...but it has lost that mojo that these beautiful twin horns have...with the lamb's tongue totally undamaged below. Help me jump off the fence on this one...I know I can repair this...almost invisibly...but should I? :?

Notice from this shot....



...that there is a distinct bias to the way the steel is fitted to this handle. I believe this is to hand the saw...and even more clearly the main owner was left handed....as am I. You can tell this because the indentation for the index finger pad is worn smooth on the upper edge (left side) in this picture...and it perfectly fits my finger.

This fascinates me....is it true or just supposition? Anyone know?



Just to finish off my first post....I have to say why I bought this saw in the first place.

I wanted a really damaged saw to break for the back so that I could make a mitre plane ala Bill Carter using the back bent to reveal the maker at the rear. I wanted a really interesting and old plane to do this with but all the above makes me think...this is not the donor. It's simply too beautiful and crying out for me to put it back to work. I think I should look for another to be that donor...perhaps one that is beyond repair...one with a little less mojo....and one that isn't left handed!!! :mrgreen:

Oh and just one small thing...click each photo for a hi definition version.

Over to you guys...discuss! 8)

Nite!

Jimi
 

RogerP

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Depends whether you want a museum piece or a working tool. This saw has obviously suffered years of carelessness, abuse and neglect. Either keep it as an example of past users' indifference to a fine tool or return it to its former glory. I'd do the latter, give it a complete refurbishment, then use it. :)
 

Richard T

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To have it back to being a good working saw (handle apart) it's going to have to be jointed then re cut. This is inevitably going to be more than two teeth worth of depth from the longest tooth it has at the moment.
If you put a straight edge along the length, taking in the lowest place needed to joint to, then imagine new teeth cut from there ... I guess it will leave a very slim saw indeed.
The alternative would be to partially joint it and leave low spots - hopefully improving with subsequent sharpening.

I know how you feel Jim, its a piece of history all right but has it done all it's going to do as a saw?

I'd be very interested to know what Pedder thinks. If he is of the same mind as me, talk to Bill.
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi, Jim

Its a very nice saw, but its to far gone to put back as a worker, I don't think you will have any blade depth left under the handle after a joint and sharpen.

I bought an old saw with even less blade from a car boot, it has file marks on the bottom of the handle from sharpening.
But it has a very heavy brass back just right for a Carter.

Pete
 

Harbo

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I can only view it on my iPhone at the mo.
I think refurbishing really depends on how bad the pitting is - you may finish up with very little steel left?
If the blade is recoverable then I think a new handle will be required but keep the old one for historic reasons?
Not an easy choice?

Rod
 

stoatyboy

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My vote:

do the teeth leave the handle

so what if it's got a short depth of cut - use it for short depth of cut cuts!

if you can't cut with it then it's not a tool and if you've started collecting non tool tools then I am afraid you are so far down the slope then you are totally off piste!

my 2p endeth here
 

MickCheese

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I would repair the handle, it just does not look right and to me looks are important.

I would then make it work, as that is what it was always intended for, saws for looking at are hung in pubs!

Mick
 

Cheshirechappie

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I'd vote for refurbishment and use as well. There are better examples about for duty as 'stuffed and mounted' artifacts in museums, and anyway, tools were made for using, not as ornaments.

The blade, if it's straight, won't need much cleaning. I've got an old 14" 11tpi Drabble and Sanderson tenon saw that I recut to rip. The blade is almost black with oxidation, and has odd patches of pitting too, but it still cuts like a knife through butter.

That one might be better as a cross-cut - it hasn't the blade depth for a rip tenon saw, but would make an excellent carcase saw.

Edit to add - the untoothed stub of blade at the heel just below the handle suggests that the saw hasn't been sharpened that often. I suspect that may indicate the original blade depth. If so, it may have been made as a shallow-depth carcase or sash saw.
 

AndyT

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Not an easy question.

When I first saw pictures of Bill Carter's planes, my reaction was shock at someone destroying interesting old saws - then I realised how exquisite the planes were! You've shown us plenty of evidence that you could restore the handle, and get the teeth re-cut to make a good working saw. But it would be a saw with limitations - the depth of cut - and you already have a fine, historic, working saw for the same sort of tasks.

To the rest of the world, this saw was just something from "I.HITEC, BACK, HOWEN?LONDON." and not worth a tenner, even with three perfect handle screwdrivers thrown in. You saw the value differently - but you can't save all the old saws that other people think are junk.

Also, I'm sure you have the skills to follow Bill's instructions and make a beautiful little mitre plane. You do need another plane now, don't you? That tool chest won't fill itself!!
 

Scouse

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jimi43":1fojjvgg said:
It's simply too beautiful and crying out for me to put it back to work.
Is this a sign from your subconscious answering your own question for you? :wink:

For my twopennuth, your previous handle repairs have been unqualified successes, so that's one less thing to worry about. As for the teeth, well it seems a shame not to use it...

El.

ps. as I submitted this, Andy's post popped up first and now I don't know! This tool stuff isn't easy!
 

jimi43

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As usual...a wide selection of very intelligent reasoning....each being logical but no "correct" definitive conclusion.

So...reading through to summarise:

RogerP - Fix it all, restore it and use it. And in answer to your question..I always want a working tool before a museum piece. If I think..."that belongs in a museum" then I don't buy things...I leave it up to curators. 8)

RichardT - A more pragmatic approach as is your wont Richard. Mixed with underlying sentiment too! :wink: I had indeed intended to contact Pedder...in fact...I was just going to ask his view on the steel and the chances of restoration before I embarked on this journey. Then I thought...no...let our resident tool experts give their views first....add all the other elements...then link Pedder to the thread. I think this was the right approach...SO....Pedder? What do you think my friend? If anything other than "chuck the steel in the bin"...is the view...the restoration goes ahead.

Pete....you devil you! I know you want to see that mitre plane!! :mrgreen: I think that this saw has only had one sharpening....as CC says...the trailing plain steel shows the original line. Indeed I have seen a few pictures of this short depth carcass saw tapered shallow design...I find it most attractive. Don't worry mate..I will get a donor for the BC mitre...it just isn't this one (maybe! :oops: )

Teckel - Another fix it all vote...thanks mate

Rod - The steel is as good if not better than my Sorby. The result from Pedder on that one is already been proven so I think it would be ok. Only Pedder can tell though. I'm not one for replacing handles and putting the old ones on shelves though. In a way, the history and repairs are not incompatible and a sympathetic repair would be part of the life of the tool and totally acceptable. But that's just my view. More on this later.

SB....agree totally on the "not a tool" logic...absolutely! And to a point I agree about the handle..if it were just a functional item. But for me...all tools that I use don't just have to perform beautifully...they have to have that mojo...the history...the beauty...the style. I hope you understand why I could never really leave that handle....it's not just in me to do that. :cry:

Mick - interesting isn't it that two adjacent posts on the handle should be diametrically opposite. Not contradictory but just opposite views entirely. As you can see above from my comments, I'm with you on this one.

CC - As I mentioned above, I concur that this saw was originally made to be shallow, you noticed the flat at the rear too. I'd be interested to learn why it is that this depth is a benefit and in what circumstance. Anyone want to give us a tutorial? So...another vote for refurb and use.

AndyT - AH...yes difficult decision indeed but now not so. The excellent opinions of our fellow brethren on here once again makes up my mind. As for saw depth...see above...I think that it is quite new as far as depth is concerned. What Bill does with plane backs shocked me also...but he probably sources donor brass as I have...and reading through Bill's website...I doubt if vandalism would be one of his traits. Rather, I think he is making something marvellous from something already in twilight years. As you have since discovered...this has an interesting effect. A user of the plane is a carrier of the history of the saw! Rather like a gravestone pays homage to the life of a famous person or loved one.
As to the fact that I already have Robert...Andy...Andy...Andy...how many smoothers have you got! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
I will enlighten you on my plans in the summary below! :wink:

Scouse -

Is this a sign from your subconscious answering your own question for you? :wink:
Oooops! Busted! :mrgreen:

And that...leads me nicely into my conclusion:

I think I will get Pedder's opinion on restorability of the steel....If that is a "hearty YES"...then I will send it for his excellent touch. Following that I will restore the horn...either before, or if I have the patience...after he does the teeth.

If the horn needs restoration, I will select a piece of beech to match (not a simple task that!)...then longitudinally slot it into the original stock in one sliding dovetail. This will leave a strong and interesting repair...hopefully the subject of comment in 2099! 8)

If Pedder thinks (as some do here)...that the steel is not usable...because of pitting or we are totally wrong about the original depth...and the saw will be sharp but not fit for sawing...then I won't restore the handle...I will break it down and make it into a mitre plane.

I think this encompasses all the above views...my view...and my subliminal intention as Scouse so wisely observed! :oops:

So...it's over to Pedder! Pedder!? :?:

Jim
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi, Jim

Here is mine,



Its had more sharpenings than yours,



Made by, mmmm difficult to make out,



Bit better,



Better still,



Drabble and Saunderson London, any one have any info on D&S?

And do you think Pedder can do any thing with it :wink:

Pete
 

jimi43

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Hi Pete

Nice saw indeed and as you say...shallow steel with the same plain bit on the tail end.

There is another Hill one just like mine on Best Thing Saws

If you look further down the page you can click to a larger picture.

They only wanted $59 for it but it did have a kink in the steel so I think that one might have proven quite difficult to sort out. Mine is as straight as a die...something I think adds to the case for restoration.

I think only Pedder can say if Pedder can restore yours...as with mine.

I have PMd him to ask him to visit the thread and comment.

Just a reminder of his skills with the Sorby.....



Impressive indeed eh!? 8)

Jim
 

richarnold

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Hi Jim. That's a lovely saw. It has set me thinking about one of my own saws. This is about 11 inches in length from memory, so i suppose you would call it a carcass saw, but i have always wondered about it's depth. I was never sure if it had been sharpened a lot, or if it was just shallow from the word go. having seen yours it made me think about the uncut section under the handle. What do you think?. By the way the saw is a bit of a cross over like yours. It's stamped by William Squire on one side, and then his successor, John Peters on the other side.




 

Cheshirechappie

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In 'Turning and Mechanical Manipulation' Volume II (pub. 1847), Charles Holtzappfel gives the following information in 'Table of the Dimensions of Rectilinear Saws' (uses a lot of Big Words does Mr H.) on page 699:

Parallel Saws with Backs:

Tenon Saw; length of blade, 16 to 20 inches, width of blade 3 1/4 to 4 inches.

Sash Saw; length 14 to 16 in., width 2 1/2 to 3 1/4 in.

Carcase Saw; length 10 to 14 in., width 2 to 2 1/2 in.

Dovetail Saw; length 6 to 10 in., width 1 1/2 to 2 in.


I reckon that all of Jimi's, Pete's and Richard's saws were made as Carcase Saws. It also means that the common or garden 12" tenon saw (with a blade depth of about 3 to 3 1/2 inches) is a more modern development.
 

jimi43

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Hi Richard

What a lovely saw you have too...I am so glad this thread is bringing the added bonus of some wonderful examples of early 19thC designs.

I was reading up about carcass saws...and I freely admit I am by no means an expert on this subject....but it seems that there are certain designs that have a very shallow blade...the Gramercy version has a similar shallow profile which if I remember correctly has a 2 1/2" usable surface.

There are simply too many examples of these saws which are virtually the same for them all to be the residual stub of many decades of sharpening...and the narrower toe examples are also easy to find...which leads me to believe they are designed like this, presumably for better balance.

I would love someone who really knows to advise.

EDIT SINCE CC's POST: That just about proves it....if Mr Holtzapffel says so...it has to be true! 8)

Jim
 

Cheshirechappie

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Further reading of Mr Holtzappfel's mighty tome reveals the following; Carcase saws were made with about 12 ppi, of 23 gage (Mr H's spelling) plate, and having either crosscut or rip tooth profile. Their use was to seperate the top and bottom of six-piece glued-up boxes or carcases.
 

Richard T

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I stand educated and corrected. If these saws were designed to be so shallow - go for it.

I don't think the pitting is too bad is it?
 

jimi43

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Cheshirechappie":2vlypmz4 said:
Further reading of Mr Holtzappfel's mighty tome reveals the following; Carcase saws were made with about 12 ppi, of 23 gage (Mr H's spelling) plate, and having either crosscut or rip tooth profile. Their use was to seperate the top and bottom of six-piece glued-up boxes or carcases.
So that just about nails it then CC....12tpi (this one is 11 and a bit!)....and I need to check the dimension of steel gauge translated into inches or mm...so that I can check the thickness.

What amazes me is that one little cheap "basket case"....can lead to such research. Great stuff!! =D>

Jimi
 
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