Thursday, November 12, 2020

Stanley #42 Saw Set, Part 1: How It Works

This post will be mostly about how the Stanley #42 saw set works, but I'll also show a little about what I did to clean it up.  I bought it a couple years ago and with the work I've done recently on some old saws, I finally got to try it out.

Stanley #42 Saw Set

9-26 & 12-19-16

Inside the moveable handle

I saw a picture of another #42 and it had "STANLEY No 42" inside the moveable handle.  So it's likely this one should read the same, but anything to the right of the "Y" is not legible.  Shortly after I got the #42, I read that the 42X is a better saw set.  Oh well, it's what I've got, so I'll make the most of it.  Here it is, all taken apart and cleaned up.

Cleaned parts

I don't know the proper names for some of the parts, but I'll make an educated guess.  The parts are (in no particular order):

A: the main casting, including fixed handle

B: the moveable handle

C: (or "H" - oops) the hammer, or plunger

D: The anvil

D1: threaded rod for clamping the anvil in place

E: Saw plate brace

F: Anvil adjusting screw

G: Anvil clamp nut and spring (the unlabeled washer is used with these, too)

H: see C (the letter H was a mistake)

I: assembly pins

J: handle spring

The moveable handle is attached to the main casting with the larger of the three pins.  After the handle is pulled, the spring (J) pushes it back to its starting position.

Moveable handle attached to casting with right-most pin

The spring, in position

Part E, the saw plate brace held in place with the two smaller pins

Part E serves two functions.  First, the saw plate rests against it when the saw teeth are being set.

Saw plate held against the saw plate brace during the setting operation

Second, it acts as a "keeper" for the hammer, which sits just above it inside the main casting.  The back end of the hammer has a semi-cylindrical cutout into which the upper (cylindrical) end of the moveable handle fits.

View of the bottom of the hammer with its round cutout

When the handle is squeezed, the moveable handle pivots on the large pin and the upper cylindrical part of the handle pushes the hammer forward.

Dental tool pointing to the hammer, upper part of moveable handle at right

The hammer then squeezes the saw tooth against the anvil, bending the tooth.  The anvil and the hammer have a matching angle where they meet.

Hammer and anvil viewed from above the business end of the #42

Ready to squeeze the handle

Squeeze the handle, hammer moves forward, pressing tooth against anvil

The anvil is vertically adjustable to allow more or less of a tooth to be set.  My understanding is that it is supposed to be just the top 1/3 to 1/2 of a tooth that gets set.  The adjustable anvil allows the user to set this to their liking.

Anvil adjusting screw has a flange (right word?) that engages a slot in the anvil.
Anvil clamping nut (left-most) holds the anvil in place after it has been adjusted.

Adjusting screw and clamp nut removed.
Note the four marks on the anvil for setting its height repeatably.

I didn't get any pictures of it, but the threaded rod extending to the left in the above picture screws into the back of the anvil.  The rod fits through a vertical slot, allowing it to change position vertically as the adjuster screw is turned.

Picture with clean parts (ignore the ruler at right)

Note position of hammer with anvil adjusted up high ...

... versus position of hammer when anvil is lowered

This can allow the user to apply less or more set to a saw, or to set larger versus smaller teeth.  But there is a limit to how small a tooth this can set.  The hammer is about 0.091" wide (about 3/32") where it contacts the saw teeth and that would be too large for setting small teeth.  I can't tell you how small is too small - I'll figure that out when I get more experience with this saw set.

This post is getting long, so next time I'll write about the position of the tops of the teeth relative to the top of the hammer.  I'll also cover how I "fixed" the main casting to have the tooth tops in the proper position.


  1. If you had a second one of these the hammer could be ground narrow enough for a small toothed saw. Not sure if the anvil would adjust high enough for the fine teeth. The flanged adjuster may have to be outside the groove below the end of the anvil.

    Good post. Thanks.

    1. An excellent point. The second-to-last picture above shows the anvil adjusted up high so that the hammer only reaches about 1/32" to 1/16" up the face of it. Not sure if that is the extreme of it or if it will go a little higher.

  2. 1/32 height should go into the 30ppi range, which is very fine. 1/16 is twice as much as 1/32, so 16 ppi might be achievable. I don't know how close to the root the anvil edge goes.

    We had that exact saw set in our tool drawers when I was a kid. I had no idea what it was and never saw a saw sharpened in the house. A rivet setter was the other tool that had no apparent purpose in life.

    It turns out whatever hand tools we had belonged to my grandfather ao a small assortment of hand tools has been passed down. Socket chisels are the most useful out of the collection.