It is surprising that it took most of a century after the patent
in 1808 for the bandsaw to become a major factor in lumber manufacture.
After all, you just make a steel belt patterned after a framesaw
blade and run it on two pulleys!
Simple as that might seem, the blade was a major problem throughout
most of the 19th century. It had to be flexible enough to pass
around and conform to the wheels without failure from repeated
bending at high speed. In 1808, steel manufacture was not highly
developed, plus there was the problem of making a good weld.
The first successful blades were made in France, and the M.
Perin Company in Paris had nearly an international monopoly
on band blade manufacture until 1870 when Napoleon III was defeated
in the Franco-German war.
But even after the steel problems were solved, very few people
understood how to properly sharpen and bench a blade. And those
who did wouldn't share their knowledge. This was job protection
and insured high pay for those who had the skills. All of this
and developments to the present time are described in detail
in the book, "Bandsaws, Wide Blade & Narrow Blade Types."
Despite all the problems, today's bandsaws, with their tremendous
kerf advantage, are indispensable.The largest known bandsaws
had 12-foot-diameter wheels and used 24-inch-wide blades 65
Jones, Chandles. Milestones
in Machining of Wood, Industrial Strength Woodworking.
Barker Band saw mill, Ellsworth, Maine; 1836;
Patent No. 9,303X
The patent covers the "elastic revolving belt saw and
the manner of using the same." In other words, he patented
the basic idea of the bandsaw. The idea of the bandsaw reportedly
originated in France or England (William Newberry of London
received an English patent in 1808 for a bandsaw, but he never
went built a successful machine because of problems with making
a viable blade), but this is the first known U.S. bandsaw
The blade is described as "thirty-four feet long, nine
inches wide, and one twelfth of an inch thick." The wheels
are five feet in diameter.
Widespread use of bandsaws would have to wait for the necessary
metallurgical improvements to make blades that could repeatedly
flex without suffering fatigue and breakage.
Barker Band saw mill; Jan. 06, 1836; ; Patent
No. 9,303X, Old
Lemuel Hedge, New York, New York
|Lemeul Hedge, Band Saw, May 08, 1849
Lemuel Hedge was best known as a rule maker, but he also
patented several woodworking machines. His history as a designer
of woodworking machinery is known primarily from patent records,
spanning 1814 to 1857 (his earliest patents were not reconstructed
after the 1836 patent-office fire).
Hedge patented an early planing machine, a circular sawmill,
an early bandsaw , and a subsequent bandsaw design of
real ingenuity (though a genetic dead end). An 1857 reissue
of his first bandsaw patent notes that Hedge was by then deceased.
Lemuel Hedge, Old Woodworking
Joseph H. Tuttle Saw, Seneca, NewYork,
Patent No. 9,807
"Extended 7 years. Reciprocating sawblade that cuts
in both directions. Besides the reissue, this design was improved
in patent 118,198.The manufacturer is inferred from the assignees
of the reissue, plus the fact that the patent was extended:
patents cannot normally be extended if they are not being
J.H. Tuttle, Saw, No.9,807. Patented
June 21, 1853. USTPO image.
Joseph H. Tuttle, Seneca, NewYork; Jun. 21, 1853;
Patent No. 9,807