I’ve got his saw here in my office.  It’s just like it was the day he died.

My father-in-law was a master carpenter.  He was building things before his children were born.  I married his youngest child.

He took an old house, it was run-down, deserted, in the middle of a pasture.  He built it into a home.

A few years later,  he hired some guys to pour him a slab.  He put down the first 2×4 and built a three bedroom home.  He even glassed in the back porch.  He got the same guys to pour a form in the back yard and he built a shop.

He kept his saw in that shop.

He built things until he couldn’t.  In fact, he was hanging a shelf the day he sat down and had a stroke.

He had two or three hammers.  The 20 ounce  Blue Grass Hammer was his favorite.  But he took the most pride in his hand saws.  One was a Nicholson.  That was his ripping saw.  The other was a Disston, his crosscut saw.

I don’t know what happened to the Nicholson.

Bill had a special place for his saws.  He never hung one on a nail or a hook.  We don’t know what would have happened if you left one out for the night.

He had built a  box for his saws.  It was his saw box.

I learned quickly.

“Mike, don’t lay my saw down.  If you’re through with it, put it back where you found it.”  He was gentle in his language, but serious.

His kept his saws in that  saw box.  You removed the cardboard sleeve, used the saw and when you were finished for the day, you wiped down the blade, and put it in the cardboard sleeve. Then the saw went back in his saw box.

I can still see him picking up a saw, turning the teeth side up, towards the sky, looking down the edge, like he was aiming a rifle.  Looking at the set of the teeth.

Sometimes, Bill just shook his head, then he’d pull out a crazy looking contraption.  He said it was a ‘sat-set.”  He’d put the saw in his vice and put the contraption on top of the saw teeth.

“It’s for setting the teeth.  They have to be bent out, just a little bit.  You do that before you sharpen them.  If you have your teeth set right, the saw cuts straight.  If they’re not set, then the saw cuts to the left or cuts to the right.  It’s hard to make a square cut, unless the teeth are set.”

I wish I knew half of what that man carried to the grave.

He’d set the teeth and then use a six inch long triangle-shaped file.  He’s make one or two passes on each tooth, then hold the saw against the light and check his work.

It was his saw and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still his saw.


Please feel free to share.  I welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  You can follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

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