Home » Blog » In memoriam of J. A. P.

In memoriam of J. A. P.

 

Dear sir, I bought your saw off of eBay at auction, and I just want to gush about it. This is a picture of your saw.

It is a Disston 14″ back saw. I don’t know how you acquired it, but the guy I bought it from got it an estate auction near Chicago. I’m weighing it because it is so much heavier than a similar saw that I bought a few months ago. Same manufacturer, too. I have a theory about the weight difference, if you’ll allow me the courtesy of going into somewhat of a focused ramble.

This saw cost $8 dollars in 1880, based on the purchase price of what I bought the saw for in 2017 and the inflation of the dollar over the 137 years since then. The math nerds that are following my site (if there are ANY math nerds following my site) will quickly say, “to the internet!!” and deduce that I paid $185 dollars for the saw (shipping included!). Whatever. It’s a beautiful saw, and it was built when craftsmen made their living from their tools.

Your saw weighs over 22 ounces, back when steel was relatively expensive. The modern saw weighs just over 12 ounces, when steel was relatively cheap. Why is that?

I think that your saw was made to be used and resharpened and used and resharpened. The weight makes it easier to cut wood, but it isn’t so heavy that the user gets tired. Your saw was made for a person who earned his livelihood, while the modern saw was stamped out and given a plastic handle and made to be as cheap as possible and then disposed of when it got dull because hey, it’s cheap, right?

Your saw cuts BETTER, the kerf (the groove or slot that the saw leaves behind) is THINNER, and it cuts FASTER. These are all things that are benificial when you are making a living from the tool.

Truly, in this case, they don’t make them the way they used to.

 

What did you make with this saw, J. A. P. Is any of your work still in use today? how did you acquire it? Who did you leave it with after you slipped the mortal coil? Was the chip in the handle there when you got it, or did you drop it? Did you wonder, as I do, who used it before you? Did you feel, as I do, that I need to craft fine things with this saw so as to honor those craftsmen before me?

I love your saw. I treasure it. I am going to make great furniture with it that will last for generations. Thank you, good sir.

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Drake,
I like you get excited about these old beauties. This was obtained at an estate of a elderly carpenter / woodworker who passed here in Northern Illinois. You could tell though that he was a perfectionist by the amount of quality tools he had obtain and how he cared for them. Also some of his work was on display in several toolchest he had made that were all finely dovetailed [ it is possible he might of used this saw to make, who knows. ] My uncle was a master cabinetmaker and taught me how to identify quality work and tools at a early age. When I retired I decided to search out these fine hand tools with all their character from use in the trade, and get them back into circulation for others to appreciate. I wish I had more to tell you but as I said the gentleman had passed – I wish I could have talked to him.
I have and will be listing other tools from the same estate [ I have this saws’ younger brother – a 12″ backsaw ] up now along with a nice take down square of his. I hope your new saw serves you well and the spirit of the older gentleman guide you in your projects. Thanks again for putting this beauty back into service.
Rich