Saws and Sawing Machines

Saws and sawing machines have played a crucial role in human history, revolutionizing the way we shape wood, metal, and other materials. Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Early History: The use of saws can be traced back to ancient times, where early humans likely used primitive tools like flint or obsidian to saw through materials. Evidence of saws dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who depicted saws in hieroglyphs and used copper saws for cutting stone and wood.
  2. Medieval Era: During the Middle Ages, saws became more sophisticated with the introduction of iron blades. These saws were primarily used in carpentry and shipbuilding, helping to fuel advancements in architecture and maritime technology.
  3. Industrial Revolution: The 18th and 19th centuries saw significant advancements in sawing technology. The Industrial Revolution brought about the mass production of saws, with innovations such as the circular saw and the band saw. These machines increased efficiency and output in industries like lumber production and woodworking.
  4. Steam and Power: With the advent of steam power in the 19th century, sawing machines became even more powerful and versatile. Steam-powered sawmills and factories revolutionized the timber industry, leading to increased production and economic growth.
  5. Electricity and Modernization: The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the transition from steam to electric power. Electric saws and sawing machines became commonplace in factories and workshops, further increasing efficiency and precision.
  6. Specialization and Automation: In the 20th century, sawing machines became increasingly specialized for specific tasks. Innovations such as CNC (Computer Numerical Control) saws and robotic sawing systems revolutionized manufacturing, allowing for precise and automated cutting processes.
  7. Advancements in Materials: Alongside technological advancements, saws and sawing machines have evolved to handle a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, and composites. Specialized saws designed for specific materials have become commonplace in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and construction.
  8. Recent Developments: In recent years, advancements in robotics, AI, and additive manufacturing have led to further innovations in sawing technology. Smart saws equipped with sensors and real-time monitoring capabilities offer increased efficiency, safety, and quality control.

Overall, saws and sawing machines have undergone a remarkable journey of innovation and evolution, playing a vital role in shaping the modern world and enabling countless industries to thrive.


The following comes from an old German Encyclopedia about Saws and Sawing Machines and has been translated from German text to english

With metal usage, the shape of the line is always a triangle (Fig. 1); all lines meet at the line ‘as’ (edge line) and thus also form triangular teeth. Since the metal pins to be removed are thin, a small tooth gap is created, and therefore there are many teeth per unit of length: on average 5-10 per 1 cm of blade length, which results in a spacing of 1-2 mm. With wood saws, the basic shape of the tooth is also a triangle. The softness of the wood allows for the removal of larger spans, which is why wood saws have larger gaps, resulting in a coarser division (teeth of 2-50 mm). To achieve this, the teeth are often spread apart (Fig. 2aa). However, the saw is more effective the closer the teeth are together, so this is sought after, especially with larger saws, by increasing the gaps above the edge line (Brownian, Fig. 3aa). Saws with the toothing Fig. 1 and 2 only engage in one direction of movement, but to distribute the sawing work over both directions of movement, the shape of an acute-angled isosceles triangle (Fig. 4) is often used, or two teeth are alternately placed opposite each other (Fig. 5), or full teeth and set teeth are arranged in a row (Fig. 6 and 7). Some saws work in both directions by arranging ordinary teeth in two groups in opposite positions (Fig. 8). With very large saw blades, especially circular saws, the teeth are often inserted as separate parts (segments). These teeth usually consist of two parts for easy replacement: the cutting tooth ‘a’ and the slot ‘b’ (Fig. 9) of circular shape with tapered edges, which are twisted into round notches of the saw blade ‘S’ until the tooth ‘a’ engages with a projection ‘m’ on the blade. For screwing in and out, the holes ‘n’ are used. There have also been attempts to construct the teeth in such a way that they can be hung together like the links of a chain (chain-like). The saw blade is generally too thin and flexible to be used without further ado and must therefore usually be tensioned accordingly. Untensioned blades (stiff blades) are only found in wood saws, and the following are the most important: 1) Rip saws (breast saws, panel saws, Fig. 10, the blade ‘B’), about 1.6 m long, 16 cm wide at the top, 10 cm at the bottom, one tooth per 25 mm, for cutting along the grain.” Removable saw tooth. For cutting beams lengthwise, for two workers who hold the saw at cross grips, one of whom stands on a saw horse. 2) Belly saw (crosscut saw), horizontally operated by two men for crosscutting, with handles in eyelets; length about 1.5 m; usually M-teeth with 12-20 mm spacing. The edge line is curved due to the rocking motion and compensation of wear. The crosscut saw is used for felling trees, hence also called forest saw or farmer’s saw. 3) Fox tail, without and with backs (back saws). 4) Punch saw (hole saw), for cutting holes, therefore particularly sharp, but thick at the tooth row and without set.

Among the tension saws are firstly 1) the metal saws, where the blade is bent into the shape of the so-called frame of cast iron, held firmly and tightened (saw bow, bow saw). Small bow saws, such as for woodwork, are called leaf saws because they are mainly used to cut out leaf work (scrolls); so that these saws can follow small curves, the blade is very narrow (0.5-2.0 mm wide). The large metal saw blades have a length of 350 mm and a width of 20 mm. 2) The frame saw (veneer saw), for rip cutting (separating) large stocks in the longitudinal direction, is 1.5-1.8 m long, 10 cm wide, very thin, with irregularly triangular or full teeth, of which 80-160 are on 1 m length, has a four-sided wooden frame as a mount, is operated vertically and cuts on the downward stroke. 3) The tenon saw, for cutting the workpiece to length, has a 78-85 cm long, 48-55 mm wide, very thin blade that contains teeth on 1 cm length. The frame consists of a stick of the length of the blade, is parallel to it and has two shorter replaceable crosspieces at its end, which are connected to each other on one side by a multiple cord, on the other by the saw blade. By means of a lever, the cord is twisted together and the blade is tensioned. The blade is fixed at both ends by means of two pins on two buttons that can be turned in the arms to adjust the saw blade. The hand drills with only 22 cm long and the scroll saws with only 3-4 mm wide blade for cutting in curves also belong to the tenon saws. For special work, the following are also used: the graver saw, with a 17 cm long blade and three teeth on 1 cm, which cuts when the saw is pulled towards oneself, is used to make notches (grates) on wide surfaces; the dowel saw, a small saw attached to a wooden stick so that it lies flat to cut off small projections, dowels, in the plane of the work surface; slitting saws, for cutting the slots in metal screw heads; wire saws, consisting of three rope-like twisted wires, are used for cutting gypsum or similar minerals.

The sharpening of the saw, on which the effect depends, is done by means of files (saw files) that have the shape of the tooth gaps, or by quickly rotating grinding discs. In order to obtain a proper cutting edge, the saw must be guided obliquely according to the lines ab and cd (Fig. 11): this gives a shrunken saw the appearance drawn in ad ad. An essential improvement when planing is provided by the isogonally backed saws (Fig. 19), in which immediately behind the tooth backs slots are made in the saw blade.”

“Fig. M.12. Slotted saw. Slots are made in the saw blade immediately behind the tooth backs, which have the shape and form of the tooth gaps, so that the latter can always be sharpened perfectly straight without the need for a saw sharpener as soon as the file reaches the hole during sharpening. At the same time, these slots serve as cooling for the saws. According to their use, they are distinguished as: tree, gardener, knot, carpentry, ground saws, etc. The cylinder or crown saw is a cylindrical pipe that is toothed on the round and used for cutting round discs (buttons, band saws or cylindrically machined pieces). Sometimes crown saws have the shape of ball bearings (conical saws).

“Fig. 14. Horizontal gatter saw. The lowering of the gatter after each cut is effected by rotation of the screws dd by means of the spoked wheel II. Fig. 15 shows a steam crosscut saw, which can be used to cut felled tree trunks B with a horizontally arranged saw as a tree felling machine. It consists of the saw a, which works by means of a pull and can therefore be well 3 m long, has a secure guide in b, and is connected via the piston rod with a piston which is moved by steam in the cylinder d. The whole machine lies rotatable on pins in the frame e and can be adjusted to the thickness of the trunk by means of a hand screw h, which engages in a toothed segment, and connected to the trunk by means of the hook rod k.”

“Fig. 17. Band saw. In Fig. 17, a conventional band saw machine (briefly called a band saw) is presented. The band saw blade A is tensioned over two discs B, B, of which the lower one is driven by a pulley and the upper one is supported by bearings in the frame E, which can be moved by springs F, which are tensioned by a screw. The saw is set in such a way by means of a handwheel H that the saw is slightly elastically tensioned. At J, there is a guide, at G a shield to protect against the possibly torn band and above the table C there is a guide roller plate. For cutting beveled surfaces, the work table C can be tilted up to 45°. The arrangement is such that the band saw blade is guided over three rollers, of which the upper one is provided with an axis a a, which carries the frame B, the drive pulleys r as well as the pulley s, from which the axis a is set in very fast rotation by means of a drive belt t.”

“Fig. 18. Band saw for hand operation. The rocker saw (Fig. 10) has a saw blade A that is tensioned over two discs B, B, of which the lower one is driven by a pulley and the upper one is supported by bearings in the frame E, which can be moved by springs F, which are tensioned by a screw. The saw is set in such a way by means of a handwheel H that the saw is slightly elastically tensioned. At J, there is a guide, at G a shield to protect against the possibly torn band and above the table C there is a guide roller plate. For cutting beveled surfaces, the work table C can be tilted up to 45°.”

“Fig. 19. Scroll saw for woodworking. A particularly well-equipped scroll saw for woodworking is shown in Fig. 19. In order to drive a saw blade S with a protective device a via a transmission that sets a table T in motion, the table T is made of two parts, one of which hangs on hinges and rests on two support screws as, the nuts of which can be turned simultaneously by the handwheel H, so that this part of the table can be set at any angle. Two adjustable stops or guide rails A and L on the table allow the wood to be fed to the saw in any direction.”

“Fig. 20. Pole saw. The pole saw (Fig. 21) consists of a frame R, which carries the saw shaft a and is connected to the pole B by means of two screws and at. The saw blade a is mounted in a frame b b, which is guided on the axis a, which is mounted in the frame G, provided with bearings II and hangs on the handle h, which can be brought to the workpiece lying on the table t. The saw is driven by the pinion d, which engages with the pinion gear c and is set in rotation by the belt R via the pulley S and bevel gear k. The tensioning device is designed such that the saw blade can be easily tensioned and released.”

“Fig. 21. Tilting saw. The tilting saw (Fig. 21) consists of the frame saw S, which is clamped between two jaws i, which can be adjusted on the spherically turned, fixed on the shaft a disc and held in position with the screw s. Under the name cold saw, a circular saw (Fig. 22) is often used to cut thicker solid materials (rails, girders), in which the saw blade a is mounted in a frame b b, which is guided on the axis a, which is mounted in the frame G, provided with bearings II and hangs on the handle h, which can be brought to the workpiece lying on the table t. The saw is driven by the pinion d, which engages with the pinion gear c and is set in rotation by the belt R via the pulley S and bevel gear k. The tensioning device is designed such that the saw blade can be easily tensioned and released.”

“Fig. 22. Cold saw. The cold saw (Fig. 22) consists of a saw blade a, which is connected to the tube B by means of the plate F (using two screws and at, and can be adjusted to the workpiece.”