Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 6
   July 2010
   What Is It?

What Is It?

This tool was previously an identification favorite at tool events. Over time, there have been two accepted explanations for its use. It's often referred to as a veneer or a stair saw; after close inspection, these categorizations may bring the tool's intended function into question. We did the inspection, and you, the reader, get to see the pictures and make your choice.

Close-up of blade-fastening strip   The tool's mahogany handle
Close-up of blade-fastening strip   The tool's mahogany handle

This cutting tool is extremely well made and certainly not small — it measures 18" long x 5" wide. The hanging eye indicates that it had a storage place on a vertical surface and perhaps was used only infrequently for special applications. The saw blade measures the full 18" by 5" and is fixed to the handle using a 1-3/4" mounting strip that runs the length of the tool. The strip is necessary, given the method of fastening the blade to the handle (small countersunk flat-head wood screws), and possibly provides a certain amount of blade rigidity. The handle is mahogany and resembles a section of handrail or banister, which may be the source for the stair-saw identification. However, most manufactured and user-made stair saws are employed in a trenching function using a vertical application and require only a short, stiff 6" to 8" blade. They must also provide a means of adjusting cutting depth. It seems unlikely that a craftsperson would construct a version more than twice the length of commercially made tools that is difficult to control with such an awkward offset handle.
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