Wednesday, February 28, 2018

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.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The first order of business... a clean shop

My hiatus from woodworking was also a hiatus from maintaining my shop. It accumulated scraps of wood and bits of metal from car restoration and home repair projects, cobwebs, and a few mice. I could see templates, scraps, and quickie shop drawings I made while working on my book. My tools were properly stored, of course, so there is no rust or damage to deal with but, before I can do any real woodworking, the shop needs a thorough cleaning.




This is an impossible space for me to work in. Unlike many of my fellow galoots, I require a spotless, absolutely clear bench and I always put my tools away properly before calling it a day. The idea of working in a shop this cluttered makes my skin crawl.

I spent about two hours moving piles of junk, tossing scraps, sweeping, and organizing. I need another few hours or so to get the wood pile in order and sort out the storage loft, but I'm happy with my progress for the day. I'm likely going to have a bunch of unused tools to get rid of, so watch this space if you're in the market.

My next shop projects will be some new bench hooks (gave my previous one away), and a pair of doors for the hanging cupboard I salvaged from my last house (far in the corner).


Once I get the outside shop done I need to tackle my auxiliary basement shop, where I finish my new pieces and occasionally take on repair / refinishing projects for myself and others. The 18th century English mahogany kneehole desk has been sitting down there for nearly three years... I really should do something with it once of these days.


Until next time,
Zach