Sword saw

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by lui, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. lui

    lui Most Valued Member

    Sorry don't get your hopes up, I haven't found one under my bed.

    But I have been asked to make a useable replica, by a timber framing friend.

    He's does a lot of historic carpentry, and is probably the quickest and best hewer I know. (Converting round logs into square beams with axes.) He has also made the seige engines in the tower of London.

    Anyway back to the point, there are a few etches of early sword style saws from the 16th C, but I could do with more detail to try and fabricate one.

    Here's a list of questions I have, and I'm sure it's just the start, and I'm not expecting anyone to answer all or any, but some pointers in the right direction might be nice.

    Do any examples exist that I can visit, measure, study.
    Length of blade
    Thickness of blade
    Steel quality.
    Tooth pattern
    Handle length
    One or two hands.
    Handle fixing,
    Cutting on the push or pull.

    I was thinking of talking to some sword makers, as I assume the handle fixing would be similar.

    I also assume that they cut on the push, but this is only because later saws cut on the push and I assume that there would be a natural development rather than a polar shift.

    Any and all thoughts welcome.


  2. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Hi Lui,

    I lost the first post but the advantage of that is that the second one is less verbiose.

    Try Ebay Sword Saw or Vice Versa. There is a Japanese one on at the moment.

    Also try


    I'll try to put the photo on below in case the link goes

    This is a sword with a saw back. If you want one with more of a saw than a sword, let me know and I will look further.

    This one costs £1000 Hope it helps


    Attached Files:

  3. lui

    lui Most Valued Member

    Hi Fred and All,

    I think I may have miss lead you. I wasn't looking for a sword with a saw back. I was looking for info on a saw that looks a bit like a sword. The forerunner to the hand saw.

    See image below, from the time line.



  4. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Lui,

    I can only find a few etchings with little to no detail..

    But I have an idea, Andrew Young is a member here, but I don't think he has ever posted, his specialty is historical reproductions.

    His web site is here, http://www.partsandtechnical.com/

    I could send him an email, to see if has any ideas to contribute.

  5. ilges71

    ilges71 Member

    Hi Lui and all

    I have no knowledge of such saws, but a lifetime of engineering, teaching and problem solving for all sorts of kids projects may cast up an pearl of wisdom!!

    The picture looks pretty detailed and well scaled. I would suggest you print it out as big as you can then try to measure the saw from comparison with the scale of the people.

    The handle will be a tang fixed through the handle, I am guessing like a billhook, but could be more like a sword with a pommel but doubt it, I think the agricultural method more likely.

    The blade nearest the handle has thickness and from the shading it is waisted too for stiffness, a bit like the groove down the centre of a sword.

    Now if it was me I would find an old hayknife, which are generally not hugely expensive, the handle will already have the correct fixing. The blade would be about the right length I reckon and the depth of blade would be twice or 3 times what you need, so all you would need to do would be hack a chunk off the width of the blade, possibly thin the blade, then add teeth.

    The back of the blade looks quite thick to give rigidity guessing 3mm or more so the kerf will be massive.

    Not sure what metal a hay knife would be made of, suspect a lower carbon content than a saw of today, but I reckon back then decent steel would have been very expensive, reserved for good swords etc, so a saw would have been pretty low quality stuff.

    Hope these ramblings help. One of my students who left last year would have liked this as a project and this would have been the advice I would have given him.!!

  6. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Good idea about the hay knife Graham. I sold one last year and from what I remember, I don't think that the depth of the blade near the pommel was sufficient for the saw in the picture. Also once you had removed the rather wavy teeth, then it would make it even thinner.


    I think that you are on the right track with old agricultural implements. We used to cut silage with a virtually triangular silage cutter which was similar to a hay knife but a lot more robust. Possibly even peat cutters.

    I think that Lui said that it would be a replica only and so the quality of steel should not be a problem.

    If you get a large enough chunk of steel that is the approx. shape and taper, then all you would have to do would be to grind it down. Otherwise you are into serious blacksmithing.

    I also agree about the scaling the picture. You would not get the right fine detail but the overall shape could be reproduced and in the event of Lui's many questions not being answered, a good guess might suffice.

  7. lui

    lui Most Valued Member

    Hi All,

    A working replica is what's required, Rick likes his experimental archeology.

    However the idea of a cut down implement is good and sound. I was thinking of using a 2 man cross cut saw as the base, but it was subject to thickness of blade.

    The hay/silage cutter gives me the handle fixing and that will go a long way to resolving many of the issuses.

    They certainly had the steel quality in the 16thC, but swords were a combination of forge welded high carbon and for want of a modern term "mild" steel.

    I've spent a lot of time looking at that image, and it does look like it tapers both ways, I can't see how this would work for cutting large timber.

    The change to a single thickness saw plate must have been a huge advance in tool tecnology, probably akin to the invention of the chansaw.
  8. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Hi Lui,

    These have just come up on Ebay USA. I am not suggesting that you import them owing to the shipping costs alone, but the centre one has the looks of a ready made (almost) sword saw if you can find a U.K version.

    The bottom one is a classic hay knife and is probably too narrow for what you want.

    Here is the link to the Ebay item I can't copy the image unfortunately onto here. It is for sale until 22.12.11 at 01:09:56.