Have you ever walked out in your backyard and heard the faint buzz of a chain saw in the distance, or passed a truck caring a load of logs on the interstate? Chances are that you have considering that wood is most commonly used building material of today’s society. But have you ever given any thought to how or where the ability to gather such a large quantity of wood originated? Would you believe me if I told you that it came form the jawbone of an animal?
Some four thousand years ago the interest in woodwork was increasing. This created the need for an effective way to quickly and smoothly cut a piece of wood. Around this time the discovery of copper allowed for the invention of a tool, the saw, that could fulfill this need. This saw was designed with a thin piece of copper stuck into a small piece of wood. The copper strip had teeth lined up along one end that allowed the tool to cut a kerf in a small piece of wood. They later replaced the copper with bronze, and the bronze with iron.
This new saw was effective, but was not very specialized. It would react differently under different conditions. Eventually more complex designs were discovered. These new designs allowed for the precision cutting of hardwood, softwood, with the grain, against the grain, and even raked out the unwanted sawdust. These saws differed in the layout of the teeth. Instead of the jawbone patter the teeth were placed in a “left-right-angled” pattern, to rake the sawdust, and were placed at different distances depending on the substance being cut.
As these handsaws progressed and continued to make the job of the wood worker less difficult logger began to take interest in the idea of a saw. This led to the invention of the large two-handled tree saw, which replaced the ax. This saw was made so that two men operated it, one on each side of the tree. The saw was designed to where it had teeth cutting in both directions. This almost doubled the number of trees that could be cut in one day.
Now that the gross number of trees being cut each day had doubled problems of how to cut the logs into boards arose. Without an effective process of cutting a straight line the log were basically valueless. So the development of the sawpit, pitsaw, and the pitman became very popular. This saw pit was a deep hole dug in the ground in which a log would be laid over and a pitman would stand inside. The pitman would then use his weight to pull a pitsaw, a saw with a square frame and a thin metal blade used to cut logs into boards, and cut the logs.
This method was used for years and a few modifications were made to the saw in the process. But this method still had serious flaws. The pitman’s job was very hot, dirty, and tiring. Not to mention that every so often he would have to stop and sharpen the blade. So around this time the invention of the sawmill came about. The water powered circular saw, and later replaced by an electric saw, allowed the logs to be cut, floated down stream and then cut into boards at the mill, with little to no physical labor.
Now that there was a new way of cutting the logs into boards with little time or effort being spent the loggers fell behind. Even with the tree saws they could not keep up with the sawmills. So years later a gas motored saw called the chainsaw replaced the handsaw. This gas-powered machine had a rotating chain that contained teeth all the way around it. It allowed one person to cut as many trees as a whole crew could with the
Traditional saw. This saw revolutionized the logging industry and created the open doorway sophisticated woodwork and carpentry.
As you can clearly see the old jawbone has came a long way. Fulfilling the needs and demands throughout the years and allowing for a highly complicated and sophisticated world of wood and tools.