18th century style backsaws from Williamsburg


Some time ago, I was lucky enough to obtain a pair of backsaws identical to those used in the Hay Shop at Williamsburg. These saws are not commercially available and I cannot disclose how I obtained them, but they are as close to the reality of using proper 18th century saws as is possible today.

They are beautiful, both in form and in function. The Kenyon style saw, in particular, as it has a 3/8" thick brass back, sand cast brass nuts, and a shapely beech handle. The saw is a perfection reflection of what was done at the time, with some light tool marks on the beech handle and other signs of workmanship throughout. It is essentially identical in appearance and construction to the saw in the famous Seaton Chest.



The steel backed saw is based on the only known surviving example of a White tenon saw and is the more interesting of the two in my opinion.  It is significantly rougher in construction than the Kenyon saw and appears to be much less expensive overall. It features a 1/16" folded steel back with an interesting bead filed in at the toe, steel screws, heavy rasp marks on the beech handle, and an as-ground surface on the plate. I am told this style saw was very popular in Virginia during the third quarter of the 18th century.





They are both filed with rip teeth and are functionally very similar, though the significant weight of the Kenyon is noticeable in use. Owning the pair of them is a glorious extravagance for me and I'm both honored and extremely lucky, to own them.

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful saws! Are they replacing any of your current saws or just adding to the collection?

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    1. I've had these for several years now and, so far, they haven't replaced any of my other saws. I have a backsaw addiction... and a chisel addiction... and a plow plane addiction...

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