The Pit-ſaw is a great Saw fitted into a ſquare Frame; as in Plate 4. M is the Pit-ſaw.
The Pit Saw, is Set ſo Rank for courſe Stuff, as to make a Kerf of almoſt a quarter of an Inch, but for fine and coſtly Stuff they ſet it finer to ſave Stuff, The Whip-Saw is ſet ſomewhat finer than the Pit-Saw; the Hand-Saw, and the Compaſs-Saw, finer than the Whip-Saw; but the Tennant-Saw, Frame-Saw, and the Bow-Saw, &c. are ſet fine, and have their Teeth but very little turned over the Sides of their Blades: So that a Kerf made by them, is ſeldom above half a half quarter of an Inch.
§. 27. The Uſe of the Pit-Saw, marked M, in Plate 4.
The Pit-Saw is not only used by thoſe Workmen that make ſawing Timber and Boards their whole Buſineſs, but is alſo for ſmall matters uſed by Joiners, when what they have to do, may perhaps be as ſoon done at home, as they can carry or ſend it to the Sawyers.
The manner of their working is both alike, for if it be a Board they would ſlit off a piece of Timber, or if they would take a Square, Quarter, or Batten &c. off, they firſt ſet off their Scantlin: For Example, let it be an inch (or more, or leſs) they would take off a piece of Stuff, they open the Points of their Compaſſes to an Inch Meaſure on their Rule, and ſo much more as they reckon the Kerf of the Saw will make, and from on ſide of their Stuff they ſet off at either end of the Stuff, the Diſtance of the points of their Compaſſes; at this Diſtance therefore they make with the points of their Compaſſes a prick at either end of the Stuff;
Then with Chalk they whiten a Line, by rubbing the Chalk pretty hard upon it; Then one holds the Line at the other end upon the prick made there, and the other ſtrains the Line pretty ſtiff upon the prick at the other end; then whilſt the Line is thus ſtrain’d, one of them between his Finger and Thumb draws the middle of the Line directly upright, to a convenient height (that it may ſpring hard enough down) and then lets it go again, ſo that it ſwiftly applies to its firſt Poſition, and ſtrikes ſo ſtrongly againſt the Stuff, that the Duſt, or Attoms of the Chalk that were rubbed into the Line, ſhake out of it, and remain upon the Stuff: And thus alſo they mark the under ſide of their Stuff: This is called Lining of the Stuff:
And the Stuff cut into thoſe Lines ſhall be called Inch-Stuff, becauſe the Compaſſes that prickt the Stuff, were opened wider by the width of the Kerf than an Inch Meaſure upon the Rule: But had the Compaſſes been opened but an Inch exactly, that piece Sawn off ſhould, in Workmen’s Language, have been called Inch-prickt, thereby giving to underſtand that it is half the breadth of the Kerf thinner than an Inch: And thus they call all other Scantlins 2 Inches, 2½ Inches, 3 Inches, &c. Sawn, or Pricked.
When two Work-men are not at hand to hold the Line at both ends, he that Lines it, ſtrikes one point of his Compaſs, of ſometimes a Pricker or Nail aſlope towards that end into the prick ſet off, and putting the Nooſe at the end of his Line over his Compaſſes, &c. goes to the end of his Line over his Compaſſes, &c. goes to the other end, and ſtrains his Line on that prick, and ſtrikes it as before.
The Stuff being thus lined is faſtened with wedges over the Pit, (if the Joiner be accommodated with a Pit) if he have none, he makes ſhift with two high Frames a little more than Man high in its ſtead, (called great Truſſels) with four Legs, theſe Legs ſtand ſpreading outwards, that they may ſtand the firmer: Over theſe two Truſſels the Stuff is laid, and firmly faſtened that it ſhake not. Its outer ſide from whence the Pricks were ſet off muſt be Perpendicular which you muſt try by a Plumb-line, for ſhould the top edge of that ſide, hang never ſo little over the bottom edge, or the bottom edge not lie ſo far out as the top edge, the Scantlin you ſaw off would not be of an equal thickneſs on Top or Bottom: Becauſe the Saw is to work exactly Perpendicular.
Then with the Pit-Saw they enter the one end of the Stuff, the Top-man at the Top, and the Pit-man under him: The Top-man obſerving to guide the Saw exactly in the Line: And withal drawing the Saw ſomewhat towards him when the Saw goes down; and the Pit-man drawing it with all his ſtrength Perpendicularly down; but not ſo low that the upper and lower Handles of the Saw ſink below both their Managements: Then bearing the Teeth of the Saw up again, and the Pit-man aſſiſts, or eaſes him in it, and thus they continue ſawing on till the Saw has run through the whole length upon the Stuff. But when the Kerf is made ſo long, that by the working of the Saw the pieces of Stuff on either ſide will ſhake againſt one another, and ſo more, or leſs, hinder the eaſie Progreſs of the Saw, they drive a Wedge ſo far in the Kerf as they dare do for fear of ſplitting the Stuff, and ſo provide the Saw freer and eaſier Paſſage through the Stuff: This Wedging they continue ſo oft as they find occaſion.
§. 28. The Uſe of the Whip-Saw, marked N in Plate 4.
The Whip-Saw is uſed by Joiners, to ſaw ſuch greater pieces of Stuff that the Hand-Saw will not eaſily reach through; when they uſe it, the Stuff is laid upon the Trussel, marked O in Plate 5. in the Angles of it. Then two Men takes each an Handle of the Saw; He to whom the Teeth of the Saw points, drawing to him, and the other thruſting from him: And (as before) the Saw having run its length, is lifted gently over the Stuff to recover another ſtroak of the Saw.
Mechanick Exercises: or the Doctrine of Handy-Works – (Monthly Issues: 1677-1680)
Although we usually associate the British pit saw with the open style saw shown by Holtzapffel, the pit saw described by Moxon is a frame saw of the continental tradition.
The engraving of the saw at M (Moxon plate 4) is known to have been borrowed from André Félibien’s Des Principes de l’architecture (1676), albeit the blade appears breasted in Moxon’s rendition, whereas the blades in French frame saws typically have parallel edges.
It is worth noting that Moxon chose to copy the frame saw from Félibien’s set of joiner’s saws (plate 29) rather than the frame saw with pit-saw handles as shown with Félibien’s carpentry tools (plate 18). More about this later.
The Whip Saw shown as N in Moxon plate 4 is not illustrated by Félibien. Moxon’s description of the Whip Saw shows it to be a two man crosscut saw that only cuts in one direction. The trussel used with the Whip Saw is better known to Americans as a Saw Buck.