Classical Revival
The last few years has seen the art of making saws rise to higher and higher levels of craftsmanship,  a nunber of small specialist firms are now making saws in limited numbers for a growing market of hand tools users.  One of the most impressive of these is Two Lawyers Tools, a German partnership between Pedder and Klaus , together they have made some of the most beautifully crafted saws you could wish to see.  Here is one of my favourites.


You can see more pictures here.

One of the many nice touches with these saws is that the design inspiration comes from  the earlier designs of Kenyon, Groves, Taylor Bros and others, some of the features such as tapered spines and thin tapered saw blades not to mention the elegant handle styles that they are reviving,  These saws are really the great-great grandchildren of the early 19th century Sheffield makers.
You can find out more from Pedder's Blog and the Two Lawyers Tools web site.

Disclaimer: I have no commercial affiliation of any kind with Two Lawyers Tools, I just like and appreciate the fine craftsmanship embodied in their saws,  I wish them all the best with their new venture.

I remember when I first received a copy of "Handsaw Makers of Britain" by Erwin L Schaffer and Don McConnell, I was startled by the sheer number of sawmakers that were active during the 19th Century. It seemed just about everyone in Sheffield was making saws. Untangling who made a particular saw (and when) seemed like an impossible task. So many Tyzacks, Sorbys, Ibbottsons, Marples, Taylors. Many companies merging and retaining marks of the former makers, some creating secondary lines, like John Cockerill, Lloyd Davies (aka Spear and Jackson). The task of dating a particular saw remains a challenging exercise. One of the purposes of this site is to help further this research by asking those with saws to contribute pictures and details so that over time we can better identify and date saws by comparing with others. There is still much to be learnt. Go to the Gallery (Click above) and browse around. If you wish to upload your own pictures, you will need to register. If you register you can post messages in the forum as well.

Much of the research that has been conducted concerning British saw makers, relies upon the trade directories of the day, these were published cheaply and widely distributed. A sort of phone directory of the 1800's. Many of these have dissapeared, and the few surviving copies are mostly in libraries. There are a number of CD's available but often the scan quality is poor and you need to page endlessly through them looking for clues. Luckily there are some very good on-line searchable directories. I have recently received permission from Leicester University and Sheffield Records Online to reproduce some of their on line directory information. There is an experimental searchable database here, use the advanced search option and search for "name CONTAINS xxx". I am gradually adding to the database and it may be some time before I get it all entered. In any event I can recommend that you should, in the first instance refer to "Handsaw Makers of Britain" by Erwin L Schaffer and Don McConnell.

The problem with trade directories is they can only tell you who was making what where and when. To unravel the detail required for dating and identification, you need the actual saw. That's where this site comes in. I will be setting up a gallery, where people can register and upload pictures and details of saws, this eventually will lead to (I hope) a database of saws that can serve a reference to unravel some the mysteries, and lead to a better appreciation of hand saws and how to maintain and use them.

Site Policy
None of the original material presented here is subject to copyright, you may use freely, provided that you attribute the source. (can you say plaugerism). Other copyrighted material presented here will be attributed to the source, and where I can I will contact the copyright holder to seek permission. If you find anything here which you believe is infringing on your copyright, let me know and it will be removed.

Copyright is a very confused and difficult area, most of the issues revolve around questions relating to "fair use", in this respect, this site seeks to follow "best practice" as far as it is known to me. Main points are, this is a non-profit site, with educational bias, most of the information presented here is of a factual nature (except my opinions), and I will honour any requests to remove any material that is brought to my attention that is infringing on someone else's copyright.

Contributed Images
Images contributed to the gallery, remain the property of those who uploaded them. I assert no rights whatsoever in respect of those images, and if you wish to use them, you should talk to the owner, not me. (oh wait, I retain the right to remove any thing I deem to be inapropriate, power tools etc)

A New Beginning
This site is all about woodworking handsaws, There has been a resurgence of interest in woodworking with hand tools and consequent proliferation of high quality handtool makers. When the powered circular saw became popular, the availability of quality handsaws decreased. Now there are a number of companies dedicated to re-capturing the high quality of early saws. Mike Wenzloff and Sons are one such example.

The saw that started it all, back in the 1990's, when Peter Taran and Patrick Leach, fed up with the poor quality saws available, decided to make their own, inspired by a R.Groves & Sons dovetail saw, later they sold to Lie Nielsen who continue to make this beautiful saw available.

My aim with this web site is to bring a sense of appreciation for the skill and craftsmanship of the 19th Century British saw makers. How some of what they knew and took for granted has been lost, and now is being re-discovered. I hope this site can further some of that research, into things like how to taper grind saw blades, some non-traditional saw filing and other saw-related stuff, that seems worthy of investigation.

File Forging
File Cutting at the Cyclops Works Sheffield 1914-1918 by EF Skinner
Reproduced with permission of

File Forging at the Cyclops Works Sheffield 1914-1918 by EF Skinner
Reproduced with permission of

These, somewhat idealised images, were produced as a part of a series of postcards for sale, by Cammell Laird, and proceeds went to the Red Cross war effort. I doubt that working conditions were anything like that portrayed, but I like the paintings, it conveys some sense of what it might have been like working in one of the large saw makers's factories around the early part of the 20th Century. Just about every large saw maker also made files. They used some of the files produced in their own saw manufacturing, after which used files were re-introduced into the steel making processes.

Funding Policy
Who pays the bills?
This site is run as a, not-for-profit exercise on my own behalf, you won't see any advertising here, donations are neither sought nor accepted.
I am semi-retired and I have a lifelong interest in woodworking, lately I have gotten interested in 19th Century British Saws. Hopefully this site will be of some small benefit to others.

July 2008 Ray Gardiner


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