A Complaint and a Conversion

Speaking of complaints—a man called at the Disston Saw Works, Philadelphia, sometime ago. He carried a Disston handsaw and seemed very much aggrieved and complained bitterly about their sending out such a saw as the one he had. “Why,” he said, “It will not cut wood. In fact, it will not cut anything.” This struck the Disston folks as being rather curious, for in seventy years of saw making millions of thoroughly reliable saws have been made and sold by them. Upon examining the saw, however, the cause of the difficulty was readily apparent.

The Disston representative casually asked the visitor if he thought the saw would cut iron. “No, of course it won’t,” said the visitor and he was very emphatic about the opinion. Asked if he could wait a few minutes, he said he would.

Disston’s man took the saw out in the shop and had it specially filed to cut iron notice the specially filed part brought the same saw back, took the visitor to the machine-shop, got a piece of iron bar about two inches in diameter, placed it in a vise, tightened it up, put the saw to work and in short order neatly sawed the bar in twain without any trouble what- ever, and the teeth were still in fair condition.

The visitor was utterly amazed. “Well,” said he, “I wouldn’t have believed it.” After an explanation of the trouble simply a matter of the condition of the teeth in the saw he asked: “Can you put it in proper condition for sawing wood?”


“Well, do it and I will never complain about a Disston saw again.”

The majority of users do not know or they give little thought to the fact that to obtain the best results in any particular class of work the saw must be specially toothed and filed for the sawing to be done.

Years of experimenting have determined just what shape or space, angle and bevel should be given to the teeth, as well as the amount of set best suited for this or that class of sawing: that the tooth best adapted for sawing softwoods is not at all suitable for cutting hardwoods.

Of course, the work could be done after a fashion, but the result would not be as good as that obtained by the use of a saw properly toothed for its particular purpose. You can take a rip-saw and cross-cut with it, but note the difficulty.

In line with this circumstance it may be noted that even a saw blade made for cutting soft metals is not at all adapted for sawing the harder metals, nor will a saw made for sawing wood stand the work of cutting a combination of wood and metal without injury to the points of the teeth, thereby spoiling it for further use in making a clean, sweet cut in wood.

A saw that is “fitted up” for sawing wood has the teeth filed with a bevel back and front, given a proper set, enabling it to do fast cutting. A hand saw for sawing metal has no set on the teeth but is ground for clearance and filed straight across the front of the tooth, while to a limited extent it would cut wood but not in the manner that a mechanic desires.

In other words, it is not adapted for wood cutting and its temper also is different from that of a wood cutting saw.

It is for these very reasons that various patterns of saws are made and specially toothed for the different kinds of work. Experience in this line is the best teacher. Take a saw fitted up for sawing wood, try it on a piece of metal. No matter what kind of a saw it may be, or whose make, it positively will not do as good work afterwards in sawing wood without being refitted for its purpose.

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