If You Don’t Have a Tenon Saw


One of the more remarkable items I got see this summer that belonged to Jonathan Fisher was this fascinating homemade saw. Stoutly made with pegged mortise-and-tenon joints, the tool looks like what happens if a hacksaw and a tenon saw had a love child.

Joshua Klein, the Maine woodworker who has been studying Fisher, was undecided as to what Fisher used the saw for. The teeth are fairly coarse – though that could have happened after Fisher’s death in 1847. So one theory is it was a fancy bucksaw. Another is that it was a tenon saw.

If it’s a bucksaw, it’s the fanciest bucksaw ever. Also, the depth of cut is pretty limited.


So judging from the overall physical characteristics of the tool, I think it’s more likely it was used for joinery. But who knows? To me it looks like a miter-box saw (and Fisher did make his own miter box devices), though I would expect to see some more wear on the wooden parts from the saw rubbing on the miter box.

If you are interested in the continuing research into this fascinating early American woodworker and Renaissance man (and a direct relative to Thomas Lie-Nielsen), subscribe to Joshua Klein’s blog, Workbench Diary.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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2 Responses to If You Don’t Have a Tenon Saw

  1. Paul McGee says:

    Have you seen the ina.fr black & white footage from a french cabinet shop early 1900s? where they are cutting tenons in a square-mitre-vice-like arrangement?


  2. tsstahl says:

    More evidence of the ingenuity of our forebears. Make, make do, or go without was the norm for millennia. Now we have experts and marketers to tell us what a tenon saw looks like. 🙂


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