Kenyon Backsaw

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by sawnuts, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. sawnuts

    sawnuts Guest

    I recently found a 20\" Kenyon backsaw. It seems to be rather early based on teh handle style and the fact that the handle is attaches with 2 peened rivets. A person who I regard as an expert in US made back saws said that Kenyon began work in 1750s and began using split nut hardware in the late 1780s. It is not a thing of beauty. The handle is not missing any major pieces and eventhough it is a little loose it remains functional.
    The blade is rusty of course with some pitting. I have done little to clean it other than a light sandpaper scraping along the back enough to see \"KENY...\". The blade is fairly straight and the steel back is almost straight.

    I am a collector of US handsaws/backsaws and this is my first purchase of a British saw.

    Any info you can provide me regarding date of mfg or possible value would be appreciated.


  2. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Mark,

    Some background on the Kenyon\'s sawmaking partnerships. ( courtesy of Simon Barley\'s research)

    The Partnership which established the Kenyon\'s in saw making was drawn up in 1757 between the
    brothers James and Joseph Kenyon (filesmiths) John Plummer (a wine merchant) and Robert Jones (sawmaker)
    The father Joseph started as a filesmith in 1710. But the sawmaking started in 1757.

    The Kenyon partnerships were many and varied, just selecting the sawmaking partnerships.

    1757 - 1765 Kenyon, Kenyon, Plummer and Jones
    1774 Kenyon Hutton and Carr
    1787 James Kenyon
    1797 John Kenyon
    1809-1816 Kenyon Sykes and Co
    1821-1823 Kenyon and Co
    1823-1825 Kenyon, John and Co
    1828-1852 Kenyon, John and Co

    The clue to dating this saw may well be determined by the peened rivets, A picture would be helpful.
    I note that in Don McConnell\'s Handsaw makers of Britain, he cites (without reference) that rivets with square
    washers were mostly before 1780 and rivets with round washers are later than 1780, and flat screw heads with split nuts appear after 1780. Of course these dates are only rough guides.

    The more screws/rivets generally the later, three screws appearing after 1790\'ish.... but, again this doesn\'t
    qualify as a definitive dating method, again this is only a very rough guideline with many exceptions...

    If you could post some pictures, and perhaps carefully try to get an image of the mark.
    Here is a method, (courtesy Peter Evans) except, in your case I would skip step 1, and just clean carefully.

    (1) sand the area with wet&dry (carefully and with a hard block) and WD40 or equivalent to remove the crud
    (2) get a candle and a tea strainer (keep tea strainer at the top of the flame) and smoke the area where the mark is located
    (3) place a wide piece of sticky tape over the mark and pull the sticky tape off, and you have the mark
    (4) place the sticky tape on a sheet of white paper and scan. You then have a pretty clear image.

  3. sawnuts

    sawnuts Guest

    Thanks for the info Ray.
    The olnly \"mark\" I have seen is the one in the middle of the back of the saw. I have yet do any cleaning of the saw. Is there another area to look for a mark?

    There does not seem to be any washers on the two rivets that attach the handle.

    I will attempt to add a picture.

    Mark [​IMG]
  4. sawnuts

    sawnuts Guest

    Another pic [​IMG]
  5. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Mark,

    Wow, that is a nice looking saw, you might take a look at the Benjamin Seaton Tool Chest, which
    has 6 saws by Kenyon and was purchased in 1797, yours is (of course) the large tenon saw

    A few years back Taths published an excellent review of the contents
    of the Seaton toolchest.

    Mike Wenzloff is making replica\'s see

    I\'m pretty confident yours is earlier than this. Just based on the rivets alone. So we are looking at a date of earlier than 1790 perhaps 1780\'s, a little more research is needed to try to pin down a better date.

    As far as value is concerned, I don\'t know, all I can say is that saws from that period are not all that common, and yours looks to be all original condition. If you are considering selling try to leave it in as original condition as you can. Also there has been a resurgence of interest in the last few years in 18th Cent woodworking tools and techniques. All positive indications that the market for such a saw would be pretty good.

    I would like to get a few more opinions on the dating of rivets, and the london flat handle pattern.


    PS The only mark (apart from possible owners marks) will be the one on the back.
  6. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

    Wow Mark.
    That saw just \"screams\" early. Ray you are right about the screws, and it would be nice Mark if you could get a better shot of them without touching or polishing them. Early long \"tennoning\" saws were offered it seems as a standard item and Joseph Smith\'s catalog was offering them 16-19 inches. Sanding and polishing to see even more of the name wouldn\'t be something I would consider due to its rarity and relative good condition.
    great find.
    Joe Steiner
  7. sawnuts

    sawnuts Guest


    I have found little online regarding the Seaton Tool chest. Mainly talk of the saws being reproduced by Mike Wenzloff as well as plans for building a reproduction of the chest.

    I am attaching a few better shots of the handles specifically the rivets. This seems to be the critical area as far as dating the saw. The one small rivet head has a very distinct oval shape. The large rivet heads are located on opposite sides of teh saw. Upper right/lower left looking at the saw held in hand with the blade facing away.

    A little more on the condition of the saw. I have done little to clean it except for a little light sanding to expose what is on the back as far as a name goes \"KENY..\"

    The back is fairly straight and the tooth line is fairly straight except for one minor kink. I just spotted a small crack that runs parallel to the tooth line about 1/4\" from the teeth extending maybe 3/4\" inch. Usually I see cracks extending from the base of the tooth into the saw plate but have never seen one like this. Although the handle is a little loose it would still serve well if this saw were to be put back into service. The upper and lower horns may have been bumped around a bit over the years but over all I give the handle good grades. Given a little time I could make this saw work well. The saw plate does have some pitting but mostly the shallow staining kind. I can see where some deep pitting has progressed.

    My background is in US saws. I have restored/sharpened a few hundred by now I would guess so my tendency is to clean it us and sharpen it. I am fighting that tendency as you can imagine.

    I guess dating this to the late 1700s is satisfying enough. I hope I can learn more about this saw or help someone else to work on their research. I have contacted Phil Baker and Mike Wenzloff in the US. I have heard from Phil but not Mike as of yet. I know he is a busy guy. Is there anyone else that you my know of that I can work with regarding research on this saw? Jane Rees is a name I ran across. Simon Barley?

    I have created an album and I would like to puts some pics in there but am having trouble finding how to do that.

    Is there a speell cheker no thes site? Mi speling is atrocuis. [​IMG]
  8. sawnuts

    sawnuts Guest

    another pic [​IMG]
  9. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Mark,

    I would be very keen for Simon Barley to have a look at those rivets, and handle pattern.

    I have contacted Peter Evans (Sydney TTTG) and he has forwarded a query to Simon Barley, Simon is probably the best qualified person in this area, he lives in Sheffield and has researched the 18th Century Sheffield Saw Making industry extensively. He did his PhD thesis on \"Saw making in Sheffield\" 1750-1830. He has authored a number of articles for TATHS publications, some of which are published at


    PS. 1. The spell checker should be underlining misspelled words in red.
    PS. 2. The only trick to uploading pictures is the make sure you create the album first, then when prompted select the album
    you want the pictures to appear in. The gallery software is Coppermine.
  10. sawnuts

    sawnuts Guest

    Thanks Ray,
    I have seen Simons email address at WK Finetools.

    I would be willing to work with him on finding out more about this tool.

    I don\'t recall seeing any words underlined when I typed them wrong. Is it something I need to enable?

    I did manage to upload some Kenyon shots to an album.

  11. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    I am pretty sure that this saw just sold on Ebay for USD332

    I am pretty sure because I was the underbidder :(:(:(

    Never mind. Sooner or later I will get a Kenyon.

  12. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Nicely spotted Fred, and yes that's the same saw.. pricewise it's a bit rich for my meager pocket I'm afraid.