Antique Crosscut Saw — Types, Identification, and Value

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The convenience of tools today has been shaped by technological innovation, but some people continue to favor traditional items, such as an antique crosscut saw. 

Even though modern power tools are far more efficient than their older counterparts, some prefer to use primeval hand tools. You might wonder why, so, allow me to explain in this guide.

What is an Antique or Old Crosscut Saw?

A crosscut saw is a tool used for cutting wood parallel to the grain. They come in different sizes, with small teeth spaced closely together for fine work like carpentry, and large teeth spread apart for abrasive work like bucking logs. 

Origin and Evolution

The old crosscut saw is dated to the Neolithic era, but others argue that it dates back more. According to a Chinese myth, structural engineer Lu Ban created the saw by transforming a leaf grain into a tool for felling trees. 

Meanwhile, archaeologists assume that it was created by the Stone Age man and Greek mythology assigns this innovation to Talos, Daedalus’ son [1]. 

antique crosscut saw on a wall

Crosscut saws were also used during the Roman Empire according to records. One element, though, consistently appears in all the tales: crosscut saws rose to prominence in the fifteenth century.

Identification and Types

The single-handle and two-person crosscut saws are the two different varieties of crosscut saws. The two-person design, which can be up to 12 feet long and has handles on both blade’s ends, was used by sawyers to cut and fell trees.

Distinguishing the Crosscut Saw From a Rip Saw

The most typical fallacy is the idea that rip saws and crosscut saws are interchangeable. Despite having teeth that resemble one another, the crosscut saw has more teeth compared to the rip saw. In addition, their mechanisms and cutting styles differ.

Crosscut and rip saws have various teeth, but the cuts produced by each saw are unique. Crosscut saws cut like a knife against the grain, while rip saws are like a chisel when removing wood. 

antique crosscut saw cutting through wood

While these tools can serve a similar purpose, it is crucial to adhere to their specific intended applications in order to achieve optimal results. By using them as intended, you can maximize their effectiveness and ensure the best possible outcomes. 

Mechanism

Drawing the saw toward oneself as you cut is how the Japanese and Egyptian saws are designed, which date back to the early centuries before the 1800s. 

See Also: Best Japanese Woodworking Tools 

As opposed to this, the Western crosscut saw from the 19th century uses a push-stroke technique, in which you advance your hands while cutting through wood.

Teeth

Crosscut saws have sharp teeth that resemble a row of knives. Unlike those in rip saws, which have 90° files that resemble a row of chisels, the angle of each file slants the blade’s frame. The crosscut saws also feature consistent arcs to give equal cuts.

Material

Teeth, blades, and handles are the components of crosscut saws. The “toe” is the extended portion of the blade, while the “heel” is the portion closest to the handle.

cutting log with antique crosscut saw

Handle

Crosscut saws from before the 2nd World War had wooden handles, but current crosscut saws frequently have plastic handles.

Blade

Old crosscut saws are made of high-quality steel since they were designed to be durable. It also boasts thin, lightweight, and user-friendly blades with a straight back and is taper-grounded. Contemporary crosscut saws, on the contrary, are rigid, so they give in to gravity.

How to Determine its Value

You have a few options for your vintage crosscut saw, including recycling, selling, restoring, and resharpening. Regardless of the path you choose, you need to be aware of the tool’s worth to be the greatest choice. 

Since each vintage crosscut saw is unique, there is no set pricing for them all. Design, quality, brand, and age are some factors that affect how much a crosscut saw costs.

Design

Crosscut saws from Japan, China, and ancient Egypt are more pricey than those from other parts of the world since they are older and more scarce. 

sanding rust off antique crosscut saw

Many people purchase them purely for decorative purposes. The best course of action is to save money by purchasing a single-handle saw instead of overpaying for a two-man saw.

Manufacturing

Before 1950, all vintage crosscut saws were of the highest quality. The relics became scarce due to the crosscut saw’s decreased output, which led to their high value.

Blade

Crosscut saws are durable and valuable because of using steel of the highest quality. With their tiny teeth, they provide cuts with a crisp finish. Since the value is so high, experts advise against purchasing a contemporary design and instead advise having the teeth sharpened. 

Brand

Famous brands like Simmonds, Disston & Son, Harvey Peace Company, and E.C. Atkins are more expensive than lesser-known producers. It’s a result of the excellent crosscut saws they produced during its peak. 

handle of antique crosscut saw

Consumers back then could attest to their quality, therefore it stands to reason that it is still true today.

FAQ

How can you tell how old a crosscut saw is?

You can tell how old a crosscut saw is through the shape. Every period had its distinctive styles, such as the Egyptians’ Crosscut saws, which had exceptionally broad toes and narrow heels.

Chinese handles were shaped like bows, and 19th-century designs included thick wood. The brand is also important because the majority of makers of crosscut saw branded their medallion. 

Read Next: History of Chainsaws

Conclusion

There is less demand than there is for vintage crosscut saws. Due to its longevity, effectiveness, and heritage, this design is favored by many collectors. 

People search all over the world for these historical relics and I hope this post enlightens you as to why the antique crosscut saw is still in use today and teaches you some techniques for identifying the right ones. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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