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View Full Version : A bench full of saws we made



gwilson
08-02-2011, 07:19 PM
http://i1111.photobucket.com/albums/h463/gwilson5/Scan1.jpg

This bench is about 16' long. It is full of various 18th.C. style back saws Jon and I made as Toolmakers in Williamsburg. Jon is on your right. I am on the left.

There is 1 crosscut saw shown. We made another bench full of crosscut and rip saws. I did not start photographing ordinary tools before this. We just had special presentation pieces photographed before this,as I did not consider tools of this type as special. They were our regular production.

Sometimes we had to make displays of our work,and used photographs as part of the display,since the original work was gone to their recipients by then.

Some guys began to say that we only made gifts,when they knew perfectly well that we made every day tools since they were using them in their shops. Typical.

These are made with blades of 1095 spring steel. Their backs are 260 alloy brass,except for some earlier 18th.C. patterns that used iron backs,which you can see here and there.

The handles are all beechwood. The saw screws in the handles were cast in the Geddy Foundry from patterns I made. Then,we threaded and finished them. The earliest pattern saw we reproduced used iron screws and square nuts,as special saw screws had not yet been invented in the 1760's.

We made a special brake for partially bending the saw backs,and a press for squeezing them down until their gaps were thinner than the thickness of the blades they were to grasp. Then,we tapped the blades into the backs with wooden mallets.

Fortunately,I was able to find an old 1940's saw toother to punch the teeth. They were sharpened and set by hand after being punched.

Nearest you,there are 4 larger tenon saws on the bench. The 2 with iron carriage looking bolts with rounded heads are the earliest style of "White" brand saws. Only 1 is known to have survived. It is a brand known to be popular in Va. in the earlier 18th.C. Note how the saw backs stick up out of the handles of these White saws. They hadn't thought to gracefully terminate the backs inside the handles until later decades.

The other tenon saw with iron back is a "Cartwright" brand saw. They are from the 1770's,and do have special brass saw screws by then.

The saw on the right hand side of the leading edge of the bench is a Kenyon.

If you study the handles of this first row of saws,you will see the stages of development in handle styles. The earlier handles look undeleloped compared to the Kenyons that are from the 1780's.

The smaller back saws seen to the left in that first rows are also Kenyons,with open handles,as was the norm for smaller size saws at that time.

We were able to bandsaw the shapes of the handles out,but most of the rounding over of the handles had to be done by hand.

The blue color seen on the 1 crosscut saw is the color of the spring tempering of the 1095 spring steel we used.

Al Messer
08-02-2011, 07:23 PM
I stand in awe of your skill and talents! Congratulations!!

Al

Black_Moons
08-02-2011, 07:26 PM
Wow thats a whole lot of work to make a saw. Even casting the screws! wow.

What do they end up costing in a batch like that? They sure do look nice in every respect. Sadly, about the only thing I cut with a hand saw is molding in my miter box.

Paul Alciatore
08-02-2011, 07:28 PM
Absolutely beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.

gwilson
08-02-2011, 07:32 PM
About $300.00 for a back saw. But,the only way to get tools that were really correct for the period,was to make them. Before I started the Toolmaker's Shop,craftsmen were using incorrect,sometimes modern made wooden planes,incorrect saws,etc. They were sometimes using antiques,which was against museum policy,even if the tools were their own property. Even then,their antiques were usually late 19th.C..

The worst were tools some of the craftsmen made themselves,without ANY research into proper appearances.

macona
08-02-2011, 07:48 PM
Why was it against policy to use personal antiques?

sasquatch
08-02-2011, 08:06 PM
GWilson,, thanks for posting the pic of that very interesting fine collection of saws. Very nice!!!

Just out of curiousity who is the good lookin women pics of up on the cupboard???????

Re: the saws: i didn,t notice any that had that little "nib"? sticking up on the end of the saw ,, that must be a later thing?

I,ve read a few explainations about that nib, everything from just a decoration,, to it held the string on the end that kept the wooden blade guard on it.

Think it was Eric Sloan's book that suggested the latter which made sense.

gwilson
08-02-2011, 08:12 PM
That is my wife in the photos.

The nib is seen(if you can see it) on the crosscut saw. I agree,the nib kept the string that held the tooth guard from sliding off.

Itinerant woodworkers often carried their tools loose in baskets back then,and the saw teeth would mess up the other tools,or be dulled by them. They took a long strip of wood and slotted it lengthways to tie over the teeth.

Some woodworkers had those large toolchests,but many did not.

Black_Moons
08-02-2011, 08:35 PM
About $300.00 for a back saw. But,the only way to get tools that were really correct for the period,was to make them. Before I started the Toolmaker's Shop,craftsmen were using incorrect,sometimes modern made wooden planes,incorrect saws,etc. They were sometimes using antiques,which was against museum policy,even if the tools were their own property. Even then,their antiques were usually late 19th.C..

The worst were tools some of the craftsmen made themselves,without ANY research into proper appearances.

Not a bad price considering the labour that must be involved.

Oh no! using incorrect period tools. They must be shot and hung. :rolleyes: (With correct period pistols (Flintlocks?) And a good old fasond gallow (Though im not sure what the point is after shooting them.)

Im allways amazed and what kind of quality old tools have. I mean, you think 'Way back then, It would of taken massive amounts of labour to get everything just right, Even where it did'nt really matter, So tools where likey just made so the working surfaces where correct'

But then you actualy see examples of them.. and you realise.. People back then must of had nothing but time! And amazing skills built up over that time, Tools so fine and finished and detailed it would take me forever to make something as nice with all the most modren tools. Each one is its own peice of art, And sure they had methods to speed things up too. But the amount of actual time put in is amazing. Far behond whats needed to just make the tool, and make it functional, but to make it functional art.

gwilson
08-02-2011, 08:48 PM
Actually,people back then had hardly any free time. The men worked very long hours for very little pay. Women were expected to always be doing something.

Swiss soldiers standing guard were expected to knit their stockings while standing guard.

The ordinary tools made in the 18th.C.,like saws,were left with rasp and scraper marks on their handles,and sold with teeth that were not sharpened. Chisels were sold un handled. You were expected to file your saws and put handles on your chisels yourself.

There is recorded a story of one poor guy who got a job making chairs. Each worker got a window for light. It was covered with oiled paper. If the worker wanted glass,he had to pay for it himself. If the worker wanted an oil lamp,he had to pay for the oil himself.

This poor guy had no workbench. He took up the floor boards where he was stationed,and stood on the ground,using the floor as his workbench. I don't know if he ever got ahead enough to make a bench.

In the early 20th.C.,workers were paid as they left the furniture factories each day. Paid just enough to stop and buy groceries on the way home. They were kept at just a daily living level. Why? Because if they were paid enough to save up money, they would be able to quit and find a better job.

sasquatch
08-02-2011, 08:56 PM
Re: the "Beech" handles,,, was this the most common wood used for handles?


I had a very old 12 point saw back a few years ago that had a formed brass guard on the underside of the handle, (and yes it had that little "Nib",)
That date on the brass guard was i think 1905, sold the thing on ebay to a saw collector i think from Connecticut?
Anyway this saw appeared to have a handle made from "Applewood."

gwilson
08-02-2011, 09:53 PM
Beechwood was the wood used on the vast majority. It was cheap and plentiful. Applewood was used on the high grade saws in the 19th. and 20th.C.'s.

Today,decent size apple is hard to get,because the trees are trimmed to keep them small. They are more productive,and easier to get at the apples.

sasquatch
08-02-2011, 10:10 PM
Thanks Geo. for the reply.

flutedchamber
08-03-2011, 01:17 AM
Your work is exquisite to say the least. I would love to see your work in person.

Rasch Chronicles
08-03-2011, 02:00 AM
George,

Thank you for the informative post. Few of us realize how difficult life must have been back in the day. we all seem to think of it being idylic and fun. Shoot Redcoat or two, stop at the tavern for a quick bite, debate with old Ben, plot against the Crown, etc. Of course the only histories we read are those of the learned men and craftsmen of means. They actually might have had some leisure time.

Now I also know the answer to the mystery of the nib!

Thanks again for adding to the conversation and learning.

Best Regards,
Albert “Afghanus” Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™ (http://trochronicles.blogspot.com/)
Custom Gunsmith Student, J Chan Interview (http://trochronicles.blogspot.com/2011/05/jeremy-chan-student-gunsmith.html)

gwilson
08-03-2011, 10:19 AM
We do live much easier these days. They had no quick transportation,no machines to help do work(in the sense that we do today),no fast food,etc. . It was considered sinful to not be doing something all the time.

If you had a horse and went somewhere of any distance,you did not just turn the switch off and walk into the house. You had to unsaddle or unharness him,wipe him down,and feed him,and possibly put a blanket on him,and keep his stall cleaned out. Horses are more delicate than children to keep healthy. Everything was like that. Only the wealthy had much leisure time.

lynnl
08-03-2011, 11:14 AM
Regarding handles, I know boxwood was, and still is, often used for tool handles, and also folding wooden rules.

I've never been sure just what that term is referring to. The "boxwood" shrubs that I'm familiar with don't offer much in the way of wood. Just some skinny little branches and trunks. Tho, I guess if left to grow for many, many years it would become substantial.

Years ago, prompted by the boxwood for handles idea, I started experimenting with Crape Myrtle (ornamental shrub/tree) wood. I found it to be excellent to use for small stuff like handles. It's quite dense, and very close and consistently grained. Requires some care in drying and seasoning, e.g. cutting in the winter.

I imagine in olden times people used whatever was handy and locally available, easily worked, and durable. And if would seem only logical to use wood from miscellaneous, small sources, e.g. apple/fruit trees, shrubs, etc. for small items like handles.

I was watching a "How it's Made" episode a couple of days ago, dealing with making harmonicas. The wooden component in those was said to ALWAYS be made of pear wood. Had to do with its reaction (or lack of) to saliva.

TGTool
08-03-2011, 11:23 AM
In the early 20th.C.,workers were paid as they left the furniture factories each day. Paid just enough to stop and buy groceries on the way home. They were kept at just a daily living level. Why? Because if they were paid enough to save up money, they would be able to quit and find a better job.

I heard a story, perhaps apocryphal, that until the company got too big, Henry Ford used to hand out pay envelopes personaly to the men as they filed past. And as he handed out each envelope he said to the recipient, "You don't deserve it. You don't deserve it."

I can't say for sure whether that's true or not, but it is consistent with what you say about the furniture factories.

gwilson
08-03-2011, 11:29 AM
TG,I never heard that about Henry Ford. Sounds like a good way to cause workers to be unhappy with their work. Not a god plan!

Ford was one of the earliest employers to pay a DECENT wage to his workers. He wanted them to be able to buy a car from him. There was always a lot of competition to land a job at Ford.

lynnl
08-03-2011, 12:03 PM
Henry Ford used to hand out pay envelopes personaly to the men as they filed past. And as he handed out each envelope he said to the recipient, "You don't deserve it. You don't deserve it."



I sure don't know, but I would think Henry Ford's schedule was far too tight to allow time for that on a recurring basis.

Probably did it once or twice. But I'd suspect that comment "you don't deserve it" was done in a joking manner. Just a case of the CEO hanging out with the boys.

gwilson
08-03-2011, 12:14 PM
Even in a joking manner,I can see some of the workers being put off by them. Those guys were kept hopping on that assembly line. They had to,to keep up with it.

Ever see that little film of workers rasping wooden spoke wheels? JUST enough room to do the job,between them and the guys in front,and behind.

Rosco-P
08-03-2011, 01:21 PM
I sure don't know, but I would think Henry Ford's schedule was far too tight to allow time for that on a recurring basis.

Probably did it once or twice. But I'd suspect that comment "you don't deserve it" was done in a joking manner. Just a case of the CEO hanging out with the boys.

Be grateful that I'm employing you? Jobs may have scarce then as they are now, but I'm sure it would have earned him a few muttered F U(s) as it would in a shop today. Some of the captains of industry that were held in such high esteem have been found to be less ethical and honest than once thought.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.", John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton.

gwilson
08-03-2011, 01:29 PM
It was my experience that the CEO would get up in front of the employees and give a completely fake speech on what a great job everyone was doing. They most likely had no idea who was doing what,or how well!!:)