How to identify a valuable Disston handsaw



2016-08-09 14:41:58

I guarantee that one of your elderly male relatives has a shed filled with rusting tools (unless you are the elderly male relative).

And there will almost certainly be a handful of old saws among them.

But could any of them be a potentially valuable Disston?

Let’s find out…


Henry Disston began making saws in Philadelphia in 1840.

The #7 was the company

The #7 was the company's most succesful saw - Image: eBay

As his business grew, he invested in its future by founding the enormous Keystone Saw Works in 1850.

From this point on the company was the biggest saw maker in the world, right up until the mid-1950s.

It’s estimated that a whopping 75% of all the saws produced in the US during this time originated in the Disston Saw Works.

The brand had a solid reputation and, in restored condition, regular Disston saws can be worth a decent amount of money – anything from $20 up to $500 depening on the model.

How to identify

Disston saws are very recognisable by the maker’s medallion that appears on the handle.

The logo displays an eagle alongside the company name - Image: eBay

The logo displays an eagle alongside the company name - Image: eBay

Over the years the logo changed subtly, making dating the saw as simple as checking an online database – such as the one found at


This really is the kicker, as an antique saw has to work in order to be valuable.

This is why restored saws sell at a premium, compared with unrestored ones. 

Take a look at the saw's teeth.

While they can be sharpened if blunt, if they are ground down to nothing then there is the little the restorer can do.

Similarly, the handle should be intact with no pieces missing.


The most valuable saws are those that sold in small numbers, such as the #9 backsaw (with the Reagan handle) – which was designed for cutting wood in confined spaces.

The #9 backsaw is a classic rarity - Image: ebay

The #9 backsaw is a classic rarity - Image: ebay

These usually sell for around $500.

Similarly the #11 joiners saw, featuring the rare dolphin handle, can sell for around $400.

Even common saws, like the classic #7, can go for around $150 in restored condition.

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