Unlocking a Frozen Saw Nut

Unlocking a Frozen Saw Nut

Mark Harrell

 The first step in restoring a vintage saw is to remove the handle. All too often, the sawnut/bolt assembly has become frozen over time—and it's always far easier to clean the sawplate without the handle, or if you have some horn repair ahead of you. But how do we deal with that danged frozen sawnut/bolt assembly that just won't unstick? Well for starters, we have to get a purchase on it. . . .

Get a Wooden Clamp:

Nothing too large—a 10-incher will do. Break out your drill—you're going to bore a hole in it.

A wooden clamp can be seen sitting on a bench hook set. There is a vintage saw in front of the clamp. Everthing is sitting on a wooden workbench
Bore a Hole:

Bore a 3/4" to 7/8" hole in the clamp, about an 1.5" down from the tip. The intent here is to clamp your saw in the clamp, and access the frozen nut through the hole.

a hand holds a ruler up to the top right side of the clamp. This is measuring a hole that is 7/8" in diameter.
Clamp the Saw:

It helps to remove the other sawnuts/bolts that aren't locked up. You want as much wood on handle contact as possible. The clamp will hold the sawbolt in place while you torque the sawnut out.

a vintage saw in clamped in the wooden clamp. You can see into the hole that was bored. The frozen nut is visible. You can see the background of the workshop. Tools are cluttered about and hanging from pegboard.
Unscrew the Sawnut:

Make sure your slotted screwdriver is ground thinner, such that you can fully insert the tip inside the sawnut to avoid deforming the edges.

Tap out the Sawbolt:

A note of caution here: make sure when tapping out the sawbolt, that the handle is supported on either side of the sawbolt, so that you have a void to tap the sawbolt into—otherwise you'll wind up deforming the shank of the sawbolt.

hand holds a small brass hammer and punch to tap out the fasteners of the saw. the saw handle suspended about hte bench with the bench hook sets so the fasteners can pop out
You're Done:

So that's it: the concept is to clamp your saw tightly with a wooden clamp you've bored a hole into to access the frozen sawnut. Pretty simple, but someone had to tell me how to do it, too.  

-Mark Harrell (Founder of Bad Axe Tool Works)

Want to learn more? Check out my seminars at SawSharp.com