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Circular Saws

With the exception perhaps of the wedge and the axe, the saw can lay claim to being the most ancient instrument for the conversion of wood, and it is certainly by far the most important.

Saw Mills are recorded to have been used at Breslau, 1427; Holstein, 1540; Lyons, 1555; Ratisbon, 1575. The first mill erected in Holland was at Saardam, in 1596, and in Sweden about 1563. The first Saw Mill in England of which there is any record was erected by a Dutchman near London about 1663, but was the occasion of so much rioting that it had to be abandoned. A James Stansfield was equally unsuccessful in 1768, but soon after, aided by the government, he erected mills in various parts of the country which were operated successfully.

The circular saw was supposed to have been originated in Holland, but the first patent was granted in 1777 to Samuel Miller of Southampton. In the beginning the blades were made with square holes. William Rowland, of Philadelphia. was the first manufacturer of blades in this country when he became established in 1806 in Philadelphia. The use of the inserted tooth, or the sectional or false tooth as it was originally called, was invented in 1824 by Robert Eastman, of Brunswick, Maine.

The circular saw bench in its many forms is the most common of all Wood Working Machines. Before other operations such as planing, moulding, or tenoning can be accomplished, the material must first be prepared on the Saw Bench.

A self-feed rip saw was used as early as 1824, with several blades on one spindle and divided by suitable collars for converting timber into planks, but no effort was made to patent such a machine until 1868, when John Casson, of Sheffield, England, developed a Continuous Feed Circular Saw Bench.

A Short History of Woodworking Machinery, from the 1920 edition of the William H. Field Company Field's Wood Working Machinery Reference Book, Old Woodworking Machines

The invention of the circular saw pre-dated the band saw by as much as two centuries, and was a major breakthrough. It was revolutionary because the cut was continuous rather than intermittent, as in the up-and-down movement of the frame saw. There have been references to small diameter rotary cutters used for "cutting gears for clocks... " perhaps as early as 1600.

But the first patent on a circular saw was Samuel Miller's #1150, issued in London in 1777. For more than a century after that, the circular saw was the major contributor to high production in sawmills and woodworking plants.

It took very large diameter blades for sawmill headrigs. The Pacific Lumberman of 1889 reported that the Pope & Talbot mill in Port Blakely, WA, had two double circular units, each fitted with 60-inch-diameter saws on top and bottom arbors.

Jones, Chandles. Milestones in Machining of Wood, Industrial Strength Woodworking.

In 1813, Shaker-Sister, Tabitha Babbitt (1784-1854) invented the first circular saw used in a saw mill. Babbitt was working in the spinning house at the Harvard Shaker community in Massachusetts, when she decided to invent an improvement to the two-man pit saws that were being used for lumber production.

The History of Hardware Tools,


N. Swift "Sawing shingles," Lebanon, Connecticut, Patent No. 4,802X

"This invention is a very early form of a tablesaw. The blade is mounted at the edge of the table, there is not really a table top as such, and there is no provision for adjusting the blade angle or the depth of cut. But it is the earliest patent (excepting those lost in the 1836 patent office fire) that looks at all like a tablesaw."

N. Swift "Sawing shingles;" Jun. 27, 1827, Patent No. 4,802X, Old Woodworking Machines

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