About the Saws
My goal is to make the finest saws I can—to combine the workmanlike with the elegant, and to produce tools that both function superbly and that have a unique visual identity. The amount of handwork that goes into my saws makes each one unique. Commissioning one is a significant and rewarding process—I have seen it change the way people think about saws.
With each order I consult my stores of raw materials and gather together the materials that will become your saw. The woods I use are carefully chosen for their beauty and stability. Curly maple, cherry, steamed and quartersawn European beech, these are the woods I primarily work in.
The brass and steel I use undergo a radical transformation as they become a saw. People who see the raw materials alongside a finished saw are often shocked to think that the one actually becomes the other. It’s an involved process that connects the two and can appear opaque and even improbable when seen at its extremes.
Countless hours of thought have gone into these designs. When you think about something in a very concentrated way like that, the layers of refinement accumulate and start to resemble a developmental process that might just as well have occurred over a much longer span of time. It becomes condensed to the point that just teasing it all back out into something linear and explicit would consume a surprising amount of time and space.
And the refinements never end. I am continually tweaking things and thinking new thoughts.
Exploring the Craft
Back when I started to get serious about making saws I realized the importance of studying the old makers. Here were these surviving works of long dead master saw makers—how could you not study them? So I began to piece together the rudiments of a modest reference “library” of old saws. It is kind of remarkable to have in front of you a completed article in which resides the accumulated knowledge of a craft like that. No instructions. No blueprint. Just the article itself.
Retracing those old makers’ steps proved something of an addiction for me. I studied, experimented, and devoted countless hours of thought to the various problems that needed solved. A lot of the information and methods I uncovered found their way into my own shop. For instance, I taper grind my hand saws and panel saws much like the old saw grinders did, working by feel and by eye. I also use a very traditional saw making tool in my shop, the fly press. These are just a couple of easy examples—in truth the ways in which my work has been touched and informed by the old makers are numerous and complex. Even now with my own shop up and running, those old saws are still right there within easy reach. I refer to them often. The old makers hold a special place of honor in my shop. So do the various friends, colleagues, and kindred spirits who have encouraged and supported me along the way.
An enormous percentage of my work is done by hand. Every line, curve, and detail is shaped by me with hand tools. Rasps, files, carving gouges, chisels, scrapers, these are my primary tools. I can’t imagine working any other way. In my opinion working by hand doesn’t simply achieve an end, but it isn’t either simply about the journey to that end. I think the truth is a bit more complicated than either of those. I think when you work by hand something surprisingly concrete happens to what you are making—it starts to resemble you! You build yourself into it. It’s impossible not to. It’s kind of like how your handwriting can be analyzed for what it reveals about you—bits of you reside in the thoughts that exit your fingertips.
So working this way becomes very, very personal. The countless small decisions, the patience, the intense attention to detail. You wind up creating tools that have many of the best parts of your psyche built into them. That is both a very satisfying tool to make, and a very satisfying tool to receive.