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History Of Resawing


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man, that's some scary looking machinery..wonder how many fingers and hands and for that matter lives were lost using them?

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man, that's some scary looking machinery..wonder how many fingers and hands and for that matter lives were lost using them?

Probably not too many. They were skilled workers, and were very careful at work. Without the safety guards did pose a higher risk though, and most people today seem to take them for granted and misuse/abuse tools. Most of the tools in the workshop I use are 50+ years old, and most don't have guards on (not as exposed as those machines though), or I remove them if I need to. I've still got all my limbs.

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Well, those machines are primarily used for making planks out of timbers, real heavy duty stuff. I'm sure the feed rollers are adjusted tight enough to avoid kickbacks. And I'll bet you aren't even near the machine while it is cutting. Just a guy feeding the timber in and another guy pulling the sawn wood out. But nails, spikes and staples probably make it more exciting! :D

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Twenty years ago I shared a building with a guy who was doing reproductions in quantities from 12 up. They made beds, chests of drawers, tables, all kind of applied archaeology stuff. He had a shop full of old equipment of a similar vintage to the ones in the post. His family had been in the business for years and this was the stuff that they didn't use because they had replaced it with modern equipment. His guys were generic woodworkers many of whom had a lot of experience and were pretty meticulous workers. About once a month they had what I would call a serious incedent involving a problem with one of the old death traps. I know and have worked with guys from the era that these machines were almost new in and a lot of them were named "Stumpy", "Three finger Jack", and the ever popular " Billy One-eye". I actually have known guys with these monickers. Most of them earned their names in the 20's and 30's before safety standards.The stuff can be used, but any room for error shrinks to non-existance. I've already lost a finger to doing something that I shouldn't have with a tablesaw, so I'll leave open frame bandsaws and square head planers to more adventurous types.

On another note, another guy I worked with made a reciprocating saw to do just what we all do: cut guitar faces,sides and backs from big ol' boards without the cost of a 20" bandsaw. 25 years ago they cost a lot more than they do now. Like about double even without counting in inflation!! He used a bowsaw blade, a bunch of springs and 3/4" plywood. The feed used rope and weights. It was powered with a 1/2 HP motor and it worked really well. It was essentially a giant wide blade scroll saw. Last I heard he still used it.

These days a decent 14" bandsaw with a riser costs so little, relatively, that it makes sense to just get one and tweak it out.

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