March 16, 2010

200th Anniversary of the Circular Saw

circular_saw_table.gifAs the story goes, one day in 1810, Tabitha Babbitt, a Shaker woman, looked at a couple dudes working a pit saw (one account says it was her brothers) and thought to herself, 'there's got to be a better way to build this mousetrap.'

From the vantage point of our nice, heated, indoor-plumbing-equipped homes, a pit saw is a pretty crazy idea. Dig a pit, roll a log across it, position one man above and one man below, get a two-man saw, and have at it. The forward thinking Tabitha didn't like the process due to the wasted energy and effort with all the digging and the sawing (Not to mention the awkward moment when it was decided which guy was going have to work in the hole all day).

According to a nice little account over at the York Saw & Knife website,

Babbitt discovered how to solve the problem using her spinning wheel. She mounted a tin disk with notches along its circumference. Being pushed into the spinning disk cut the wood with much less effort than a pit saw. Her idea was enlarged and adopted for use by the local saw mill. Use of the circular saw became a common practice here. Because of her Shaker religion, Babbitt did not apply for a patent for her invention.

We snagged the image from the York website as well.

There are actually a number of other origin stories for the circular saw, but we like this one the best because it all happened in the little town where Tool Snob HQ is currently located. We've even been by the graveyard where, we believe, Tabitha resides.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at March 16, 2010 5:00 AM
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