In the early part of the 20th Century, Disston began to experiment with making a lighter weight saw that could be used all day without fatigue. They had ship point saws in several models, including the #7 and D100 (learn more). As these lighter saws gained popularity, Disston decided to release a whole new line of saws which would capitalize on this idea.
First advertised in the 1911 full line catalog (insert at right), the D20 series, as I call it, consisted of four models. The D20 was a light weight skewback, the D21 was a full width skewback, the D22 was a full width straight-back, and finally the D23 which was a light weight straight-back.
All were slightly more costly than the comparable D8, and were considered an upgrade, costing about $2.50 more per dozen than the same sized D8. All the models were produced for a time, with the D21 and D22 being phased out around 1924. No doubt there was little draw for these saws, as they were very similar in size and feel to a D8 and #16. The D20 was next to vanish in the redesign of the Disston line in 1928. Only the D23 remained, and was made right up until 1990. The D23 was very popular as it was light, easy to handle and reduced the fatigue associated with wielding a full sized saw all day. It is interesting to note that the D23, which was the only saw in the line which made it out of the 1920s was not duplicated anywhere else in the Disston line up to that point. The D20 was nearly identical to the D100 Ship Carpenter's Saw, no doubt the reason for it being dropped from the line.Not surprisingly, all the D20 series, save the D23, are quite rare. In addition, early D23 saws are rarer still. Not many examples survive of the early handle which was made during the short 17 year period before the complete line was redesigned in 1928. There are essentially two types of early handle. The first model has a notch on the top of the handle. These are extremely rare and are seldom seen. I estimate that they were only made a few years starting in 1911. You can see an example of one in the saw museum here. The second type is essentially the same as the first, without the embellishment at the top of the handle. I also believe that the wheat carving is slightly more coarse than it's earlier cousin and the handle cutout is more elliptical. Saws with handles like this turn up more often than the first type, but are not at all common. I'd estimate in 100 D20 series saws, 95 are the third more common type dating after 1928, 4 are of the second type and only 1 would be from the earliest period of production. You can compare the saws below with the second model D23s which you can see in the museum.
Also included here are a few saws which are based on the D23, The D42 and the D15. Both of these saws were top of the line saws around the turn of the century and gradually morphed into the versions seen below. The D42 is much different than the original, older No 42 which was a saw outfitted with a scribe and square...in fact the only thing they have in common is the number "42". Both D42 and the D15 are relatively uncommon, coming equipped with a premium tropical wood or rosewood handle.
Practically, the D23 saw is a good one for all around use. 99% of those encountered are 26" 8 or 9 point cross cuts. Rip saws in the D23 line were made, but are not common compared to cross cuts. If you are looking for a good all purpose hand saw, a D23 is a great choice. For those in the ship building trade, the D23 is a favorite, as the narrow blade allows you to get into areas that a full width blade will not permit. For those looking for a light saw for occasional use, or a carpenter who actually needs to handle a saw all day long, the D20 series is hard to beat.
The assortment shown below is about 2 years of accumulation. It used to be that these saws were everywhere. Like almost all good saws, they have become very scarce. We are proud to showcase this assortment, all of which are great examples. We hope you enjoy looking at the latest arrivals.