By Allen Hamrick
There are many reasons that we should be able to design and craft items that can help with everyday chores as well as be something to barter with. Many moons have crossed the sky since people had to make do with what they had on hand and lived on a budget that would embarrass poor Job’s turkey. Most of us these days, as long as we work and have the extra money, can buy pretty much what we want. Yet, there is nothing like working with old tools to give you an appreciation for what you do have. However, mastering the fine art of a junkyard metallurgist is a necessary step in making the tools necessary for camping, blacksmithing, fishing, home repair, auto work and survival. Also, these tools can become trade items for bartering which has been done ever since we could sit on a stump, chew tobacco and talk at the same time. In this segment, I will concentrate on table saw blades and band saw blades. Understanding the type of metal that you’re working with will not only help you determine what you can make but also affect the quality of what you create.
Old table saw blades have been used ever since their introduction to the homestead in the late 1800’s. Most of the time, they were sharpened and used until they were wore completely out. They were then turned into other items that were needed to further the success of the farm or homestead. The saw blades used back then and up until they could weld carbide to the teeth were of high carbon or a mid-carbon hardness. One of the best tools that was made in the early years was a garden or sprouting hoe. Farmers or homesteaders would take the blade and cut strips out of one side of the blade, and the other side would be left the way it was. I have made one of these type hoes, and it is a great garden tool for weeding as well as for making furrows. It is very light weight and can be used all day. In the wood shop, the blade was cut in pieces and sharpened to be used for scrapers and chisels. I’ve seen old blades used in gun smithing as details in stocks and also cut in strips and used as wind chimes hung in the garden to deter deer. The most popular item that has been made from a table saw blade is knives.
When it comes to knife making, the best metal has enough high carbon to make sure it can hold a sharp edge. Most saw blades today are not made using a lot of high carbon; the carbon teeth are welded to the blade. The older blades from 20 – 25 years ago were made with enough high carbon that they didn’t need heat treated, unless of course you cut it out with a torch. There are many people who believe that a table saw blade is junk metal and shouldn’t be used for knife making, but from my experience, this is not true. It depends on the blade being used and how you cut out your blank. Heat treating can get back the hardness you lost cutting out the blank. Saw blades are great kitchen knives and backwoods knives due to the razor’s edge you can attain from proper sharpening. You can’t expect it to split wood, but for everything from cooking to self defense, it does a great job. So, you can see that reusing items such as saw blades gives you a way of saving that fifty bucks from draining out of your wallet. It also gives you satisfaction in knowing you can accomplish something using your hands instead of a checkbook. Save all the old blades you can get a hold of because the uses are extensive and only limited by your imagination. Necessity is the mother of invention; don’t live as though you have need of nothing. Like my dad used to tell me when I asked him how to do something, you figure it out. That was some of the best advice I ever had.