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Love Your Saws with Matthew Cianci

  Plimoth Saws  

Last month I was at Plimoth Plantation teaching saw sharpening to the carpenters in the museum, along with Peter Follansbee (joiner in residence) and Mark Achison (presiding blacksmith). It was a blast.

One of several highlights of the day was when Mark pulled out some old saws that had been in the museum’s collection for a while. He knew nothing about them.

This backsaw is marked ‘Kenyon’ and one of the earliest saws I have ever held. It’s easily from the middle to late 18th century. This is a fantastic example of what a cabinet maker’s tenon saw would have looked like when Paul Revere was giddy-upping through Boston with his lantern. I’m telling myself that since it was found in Massachusetts, it was likely there at the time.

Notice the distinctive, fully rounded cheek that attaches the tote to the saw plate, and the extreme (by our standards) taper, or cant, of the depth of the blade.

This big saw measured 20 inches at the toothline, but was remarkably light in my hand and did not seem large at all. This is one of the main reasons I love this tapering feature… it makes longer saws feels more compact and balanced.

Mark also showed me this full size handsaw marked ‘Thompson & Co’. I dated the plate to about c.1820, but the tote screams 18th century. Again, the rounded tote says it all. By the 19th century, the pointed tote cheek we’re familiar with was all the rage.

I think the shape of the saw and replacement hardware obviously tell us that this is not the original plate. But the tote is a draw-dropper for sure. I could stare at these two beauties all day long…

Thanks for sharing, Mark.

November, 2013

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