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Thread: Perplexing Handsaw

  1. #1

    Perplexing Handsaw

    This is indeed an enigma...

    I have had this old miter box kicking around in the storage shed above my snowmobile shed. I am not sure what possessed me to drag it down from there, but anyway I did. It was pretty gummed up from years of non-use so a bit of WD-40 and some elbow grease and I got the saw and miter box to function.

    Well sort of. No matter how I adjusted the miter box, the saw would not go all the way down to the bottom and cut the piece of wood off.

    So having a "new" miter box made by Craftsman sometime in the 1950's (I actually use this one a lot) I decided to compare. It was pretty easy to see that the Craftsman Miter Box saw was an inch or two deeper then the older saw...hence the reason the saw would not cut all the way through the board.

    Okay so that was easy to figure out, but why would a saw be stuffed inside a miter box that it does not fit? And who makes this miter box anyway? No amount of scrubbing or dusting off produced a stamp or name. I could tell by the way it was machined, and the way it was put together with a lot of castings that this thing is pretty old. Much older then the Craftsman miter box. Its almost funny because you can see where the Craftsman is almost an exact copy of this miterbox...almost. You can see where they cheapened things up and took shortcuts on the construction.

    So with the miter box maker unknown, I turn to the saw. That is easy to figure out, Simonds its says on the saw screw head. It even says pat. December 27th 1887, but there is more to that story. After checking on the internet it seems the saw maker patented the saw screw on that date, but did not start making saws until much later. It only made saws from 1901-1926. That still means I got an old saw...and an old miter box of about the same vintage...but why don't the two match?

    Perplexing to say the least

    So why would I even care about miter boxes and saws in this day an age? Well its kind of funny. When I did the baseboard and crown molding in my house, I was constantly switching my radial arm saw from 45 to 90. Grabbing my Craftsman Miter Box I quickly found out how fast and effortless a sharp Backsaw can cut through pine. It kind of hooked me. As for the Simonds saw, my Uncle owned it and had his own sharpening business back before carbide kind of ruined it. I can honestly say, I think that saw is as sharp as any saw on the hardware store shelves today. Its actually cool to slice through wood the old fashioned way with only a few strokes of the saw. As i said I am indeed hooked.

    Now with two miter boxes, I gotta tell you I'm tempted to go retro on my next project....
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Orem, Utah
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    935
    Perhaps the saw got too thin (after umpteen dozen sharpenings) and the owner didn't mind flipping the piece over to finish the cut?

  3. #3
    I kind of thought that myself, but this saw looks like its an inch thinner then the other saw. I would think that would be a lot of saw filings. to of an inch, maybe, but an inch???

    Probably someone just threw in the Simonds Saw for the heck of it, then as you mentioned just flipped the wood to complete the cut. Either way its a cool saw. A 1909 Simonds catalog has my saw in it, so I would say this saw was made between 1901-and 1909. I doubt its worth anything as the handle is cracked.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
    Posts
    15,807
    Could you not put a scrap piece of wood in the bottom of the miter box to raise the wood being cut into the saw?

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    My six year old son got a $12 miter box and saw kit from sears for xmas. It is a plastic miter box but it works well for pine. It would actually be a bigger pain in the butt using a power saw.

  6. #6
    The miter box is a pretty neat rig really. You can saw any angle, left or right with ease, and the set-up is extremely fast. Now if you are into the hand cutting thing, you can also set this saw up to cut slots for dados, half laps, etc. Its just really a simple way to cut some extremely accurate joints.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Cedar Park, TX
    Posts
    320
    I think Stuart likely hit the nail on the head. It may have been designed with a user added wood "bed" in mind. Something easy to yank out and toss when it needed replacing.

    What you've discovered about that miter saw handling the job so well, is not new. A modern big box handsaw would likely not last more than about 15 minutes on a jobsite in the early part of the last century. If you're gonna be spending your whole day doing the voopaw thing on a job, that saw had better do the the job well.
    Jerry

    http://www.sawdustersplace.com

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Odessa, Tx
    Posts
    1,813
    My Dad bought a Craftsman Mitre Box and Saw when I was very small, and we both cut a ton of trim, etc. on that thing, and actually it was pretty accurate if you paid attention to what you were doing. Except on taller or thicker pieces, we always used a sacrificial board in the bottom to protect the Box's base and give a clean cut on the exit side of the cut. When he died, I left everything in his little shop so it was convenient for me to do repairs on Mom's house when I visited her, but when she died and I went to move everything out here, there were several tools and items missing, and that Mitre Box and saw were two of those items. I really hated losing it but you just can't seem to protect everything from the seemingly endless number of Low Life's that think the world is theirs for the taking.

    Hey Travis, maybe your saw is a special model for just doing dados and half laps.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Palmer View Post
    I think Stuart likely hit the nail on the head. It may have been designed with a user added wood "bed" in mind. Something easy to yank out and toss when it needed replacing.
    You guys very well may be right. I don't really know. There are no screw holes to hold aboard down or anything, but the saw does work well in there, as well as being super sharp so it cuts fast. At the same time, the surface of the miter box has dimples to grip the board, so it would seem its designed not to have a board under it, but I don't know.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    30,014
    Maybe the dimples are intended to hold a sacrificial bottom board without actually attaching it? That way you could move the backer board a bit whenever you needed a fresh base.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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