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Band Saws

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 feet long.

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 patent.

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.

B Barker Band saw mill; Jan. 06, 1836; ; Patent No. 9,303X, Old Woodworking Machines.

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 [1849], 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 Machines.



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 used."

J.H. Tuttle, Saw, No.9,807. Patented June 21, 1853. USTPO image.

Saw, Joseph H. Tuttle, Seneca, NewYork; Jun. 21, 1853;

Patent No. 9,807

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