Here is the short story of a little saw
My friend Russ Allen was digging though a junk shop.
Well, the guy had saws. Backsaws. The worst kind!! Plywood flat as a
plank handle, thin wimpy back.
Basically your Walmart quality backsaw.
So he asks the guy how much? Guy says 3 bucks. Russ is thinking, not really very
interested. Guy pops up, OK I got a dozen, how about 20 bucks,
So Russ took them. Got them home and realized no way
could I have a worse saw than this.
But there was this one thing.
Spring steel is spring steel. Wherever you get it from, there is not
much difference in the steel itself. The difference is in the quality of the handle,
balance, back and workmanship in general.
Well Russ sent the saws out to 8 or 10 guys. "Lets
see what you can do with this", he said.
So far, I think I am the only guy to do anything with one.
Here is what he sent, lovely as it is. But it does
have an .028" German spring steel blade, good as any.
I made up a handle pattern. I don't copy. But I did
draw some of the inspiration from an early Henry Disston saw of the
1840's. One of Henry's first saws. It has some elements of a saw by
Cresson we read about recently too.
But its really a pattern I worked out for myself. I
usually draw one out on paper and then another, etc. Finally I cut a
thin plywood pattern to permanently keep. I have a number of saw
patterns hanging on my peg now. I don't often copy even myself, but
I have them there if I want.
I cut out one for me and another for Russ in
strictly local black walnut wood. From Doc Chambers flat, matter of
fact. Ol Doc had one of the pioneer trees that were planted early
all over the valley here. But it died and was become a hazard. So he
donated it to the high school shop class. Scraps of this great old
tree are still floating around town, if you dig deep enough.
I decided to do a 1/2 back saw.
Halfbacks were very popular before the civil war. You had a saw that
could cut a wide plank or panel, and yet 1/2 of the saw had a
substantial back so you could do accurate joints and such. Kind of a
marriage. Neither quite as good as either, but then a guy could get
by with one saw in a pinch.
Since they didn't sell many, well, they are rare as hen's teeth now
and command heavy money. I knew I was never going to have an
original, but then mine is custom made one-of-a-kind in an original
pattern that is also one of a kind, so I ain't bitchin none.
Roughed out. This is the original "too thin" steel back. I later
bent a sheet of .064 brass and soldered it to the original steel
back so now I have a beefy thick back that will actually work as a
Here is why I did it. My saw, mine alone. Only one like it there
in Happy Camp, CA