Saw History

saw1

After picking up an old 2 man crosscut saw almost a year ago, I am finally getting around to finishing up its restoration. This saw is a little different than the others I own. I actually know a little about its history as told by the family member that I picked it up from. So with that knowledge, its fun to speculate about its past. So here’s what I know.

The family member bought the saw in1901 when he was 16. Originally it came from the Pacific Northwest, Washington State. At age 18, the owner joined the military. After that he became a doctor and at some point worked for the department of Indian Affairs. The saw is a 2 man crosscut saw, felling saw to be exact. Manufacturer is unknown, with a champion tooth pattern.  By design, it was intended to fell hardwood trees. Felling refers to cutting down trees. A bucking saw is intended to cut to length. (i.e.. firewood, cabin beams, fence posts, and the like)  Bucking saws are wider. The photo shows the 2 designs with the felling saw on top. With wood being the most common building material back then, as well as the daily need to heat and cook, cutting wood would likely be an almost daily task for any homesteader. Finding work would probably be an easy task if people had the money to spend.

Knowing that it was purchased by a 16 year old, I can guess about a few things from this. At 16 he probably picked it up used. The cost of a new saw would only have been about 3 to 7 dollars. By today’s standard, pocket change for most people. Back then money wasn’t as easy to come by. For someone to sell their saw to a kid, it was probably already in rough shape.

The fact that it was a 2 man cross cut saw would indicate that he had a “business partner”. Since people are basically the same throughout history, it was probably a couple of kids looking to make some extra money. Much like mowing yards and raking leaves today. Knowing what the earned funds would be used for back then requires a little imagination and knowing mans nature. Assuming that kids from then are not much different than today’s kids, the money would be put towards video games. Of course game stations, and large department stores didn’t exist back then but it’s easy to assume that the money would be spent on some leisure item of the day.

There is a more plausible use for money earned, at least in my mind. At the age of 16, one is “coming of age”, thinking about the future and striking out on their own. It would be easy to imagine these youths were looking to fund some future venture. Maybe buying some land, a horse, or a train ticket to some far away city to find more desirable work. Owning and using crosscut saws, I can say one could quickly come up with many options for “more desirable work”. LOL

The design of the saw being a champion tooth felling saw is an interesting choice for 16 year olds. With some knowledge of the 2 designs, felling and bucking, its fun to imagine the purchasing decision. To think that they would be cutting down trees might be a stretch. But if needed, it would be easier to buck wood with a felling saw than to fell a tree with a bucking saw. So that would be a more logical dual purpose saw. The tooth design is for hardwoods. Maybe it would be easier to cut soft woods with this pattern rather than cutting hardwood with a pattern designed for soft woods. I would like to think that some thought was put into these considerations. But with a couple of 16 year olds the purchasing decision may have been purely based on what was available and within their budget, or a combination of budget and purpose.

With the various saws I have, this one is the only one with some known history. Piecing the past together on the others is pretty much impossible. So its always fun to know a little about the piece.

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8 Responses to Saw History

  1. Dan says:

    Always nice to know the history of one’s saw, a rarity for that kind of tool these days. That bucking saw could use an electrolysis bath.

    • Thanks for the comment Dan. The bucking saw will be the next project. The rust is the least of the worries. The handles are probably a loss on it, but I can use the handles from the saw featured here. The teeth are in great shape and should only need a touch up.

  2. Dan says:

    There are several good threads on electrolysis for rust removal on crosscutsaw.com Your saw looks like an Atkins #55. I have a 66″ version of that same saw It is crescent ground blade.

    • I typically use a chemical method t remove rust. Not really a fan of the process…. but it works and came recommended by someone that restores old tractors. It has worked for me so far. I am not a fan of the hazards of the process. (muriatic acid) Imp always willing to learn. One question I have had is, what does that process have on the temper of the metal? I always figured it to only effect the surface, and neutralized with the after bath. What are your thoughts on my method?

  3. I typically use a chemical method t remove rust. Not really a fan of the process…. but it works and came recommended by someone that restores old tractors. It has worked for me so far. I am not a fan of the hazards of the process. (muriatic acid) Imp always willing to learn. One question I have had is, what does that process have on the temper of the metal? I always figured it to only effect the surface, and neutralized with the after bath. What are your thoughts on my method?

  4. Dan says:

    I’ve never used acid, though I’ve soaked a few axe heads in vinegar. The electrolysis method pulls the rust off the saw and deposits it on whatever piece of scrap steel you have in the tank. It uses a low amp battery charger to run the anode/cathode process. I have de-rusted many saws in the tank which is just a wooden box lined with plastic. Unlike the acid which can eat your good steel, the electrolysis process just removes the rust. You still need to scrub the saw and give it a good wet sanding with fine sandpaper, but the rust does come off. Wear rubber gloves though, as the rust scale on the saw will be a muddy black and will discolor your fingers.

    • Muratic acid is great but it also has its draw backs. I will remove rust in about 15-20 minutes. The fumes are harsh. You don’t want to breathe it. Approach from up wind. (outside use only) I always have a bucket of water with baking soda to pour on the saw to neutralize the acid to prevent flash rusting. Missing that step will cause rust to form before your eyes. I have only had one saw with the makers etching on the blade. It does make that harder to read. ARG!!! A good saw with little pitting and a visible makers mark would be better to just work by hand. I will also neutralize the left over acid as well with water mixed with baking soda. Not really a fan of the process but it works. There is still a bit of sanding required afterward also, but the sanding is minimal. I am interested in the electrolysis process and will put it into consideration for the next blade. To age wood to grey/black… a combo of 1 to 1 water and vinegar and water with the addition of a pad of steel wool, in 2 weeks paint it on new wood and it will turn grey before your eyes. So the same could happen with your hands. LOL

  5. Dan says:

    My mistake in earlier post. This is the saw filer’s site:
    http://www.crosscutsawyer.com

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