A cabinetmaker needed a variety of specialized saws for rough cutting, joinery, scroll cutting and so on. The design for each type of saw evolved over centuries to be suited to the particular task. By the late 18th Century with fine steel from Sheffield, a cabinetmaker’s saws had reached a level of perfection that has not been surpassed in modern times.
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Saws of this type relied upon skillfully made rolled steel. The blade had to be thin for fine work, but still strong and able to hold an edge. Cabinetmakers also had to have a set of very fine files for sharpening the teeth. Saws were among the most difficult tools to make in the 18th Century, especially fine saws for joinery and there are no known examples of American made backsaws in the Colonial era.
Dovetail Handsaw, Circa 1790
This 18th Century saw is 14” long. 10 points/inch for fine dovetail cutting. Made in Sheffield England. Maker’s mark is A. Bicoin & Sons and shows a crown and the initials S.B. This general type of saw is also known as a tennant saw or backsaw. These saws had a steel reinforced back to keep the blade rigid. The blade would cut into a piece of wood and never go through the wood.
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