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Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Tools from Other Worlds  

There are whole other worlds with different woodworking mindsets and motor skills out there.



It has been pointed out by a few of us that this group seldom ventures outside a well defined part of the world when discussing unplugged traditional woodworking. Most members of this group buy tools and employ methods that are based in the British Isles and North America. There is a nod on occasion to Japanese woodworking but there are few posts on tools beyond planes, saws, and chisels.

There are whole other worlds with different woodworking mindsets and motor skills out there. For a little over a year I have been collecting tools from The Baltic States and Balkans to assemble a “set” of tools that were used by woodworkers in the past. I have concentrated my efforts in Bulgaria and have not only put together an assemblage of tools but also collected other wooden artifacts that were made with hand tools.

One type of tool that is far different than those in other parts of the world is the handsaw. You know what our’s look like and probably use them frequently. Bulgarian saws are quite different. They have almost no features in common with ours except they have teeth. But, unlike our saws, they cut on the pull stroke instead of a push stroke. Their handles look oddly different than the ones on our saws. I have sharpened and set several Bulgarian saws. They feel different but cut the same as our saws.

The standard number of teeth on these saws are 8 per inch and they are pitched to the rear. This type of saw is called a “Turkish Saw”. That is because Bulgaria was part of The Ottoman Empire for 500 years and saws of the Turks became the norm.

That occupation set a different trajectory for the way their technology evolved that was and is different than to what we are accustomed.

The top saw is an 18th-Century saw typical of those used in The Ottoman Empire. The saw plate is thin and it cuts on a pull stroke. The bottom two saws are typical of those made used in Bulgaria into the 1950’s. For scale, the top Ottoman saw has a blade 11 1/2 inches in length beyond the handle.

This 18th-Century Ottoman saw has a forged iron bolster that
helps retain it to the handle.

These are not keyhole saws but normal Bulgarian handsaws.

I wager that less than 1% of the members of this group did know that Disston manufactured saws using the Turkish Pattern. They stole the idea just
like I stole this image from Jim Bode as it appeared on Pinterest.

James E. Price
April, 2018



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