yt12

Logging Saw

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yt12  I believe Roy Underhill mentioned that a lot of hand saws got resharpened to the point where the remaining metal was used to make scrapers.  

He had a video up on PBS where he was making saw blades for English style dovetail saws.  The teeth were cut by a special punching machine that auto-indexed to the next tooth.  The heat treated steel coming off the roll was punched, cut, filed, and set without any heat, drilling, or spark generating abrasives.

I suspect they'd struggle to maintain tolerances and flatness by heat treating after cutting, and setting all the teeth.  Plus, the corner of each tooth would be a natural stress riser for cracks to start.  Even so, I've seen more than one "wall hanger" logging saw that had a crack started in a gullet.  

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I know a guy who makes a lot of knives from old saw blades. They are quick and not a lot of time in fit and finish, however he seems to be making a good living making them. He does not heat treat them, he is just careful not to get them hot while making them. he uses both logging saws and carpentry saws. He told me that the logging saws were more problematic as they were often bent around a pack horse load to get then into the mountains. He also stated that sometimes when cutting out the blade shape they would fracture and that was the end of that blade, I think when he had a problem he moved on rather than waste time on a lost cause, anyhow they work for him.

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Well, I have been making ulu out of old handsaw blades for many years.  I learned how to use one from an Aleut woman cleaning salmon on shores of Kachemak Bay in Alaska. For a few years I was shipping 4 dozen of them a month to a dealer in Alaska who sold them to tourists but also natives in the Arctic.  They liked my ulu because I made them with the good handsaw steel in a very traditional style. I have also sold a ton of them to trappers, hunters, and others that generally display them up on a bookshelf. I put handles of caribou, moose, elk, or deer antler on them using some epoxy (yes, cheating) and pinning them with brass.

The only steel I use is from handsaws from the late 1880's.  At one point I had about 200 of them hanging in the basement.  I cut them cold and grind them cold on the belt sander with bare hands and never let them get hot.  If they don't give the high carbon spark they are thrown away.  Pure stock removal. They take and hold an edge beautifully and are great for skinning bear, beaver, and deer. I de-rust and clean up each blade, and sometimes I get lucky and find the sawmaker's touchmark before I cut through it.  Those look beautiful when centered on an ulu blade.

I don't get all uptight about the hardness of the blade as long as it sparks right, and I don't think the traditional Inuit did either.  They take and hold an incredible edge and that is just fine for me and anyone who has ever used one of my ulu.  Not something I will ever worry about.  They cut, and cut very well.

I have a pile of the logging saw blades and am soon going to start in on them, making kitchen and skinning knives.  I am sure I will have to learn some new tricks with them but as someone on here already said, you can get a lot of knife blades from an old saw that only costs $5-10.  I plan on keeping everything simple like I always have.  I prefer making primitive-style knives, and as long as they are sturdy, cut well, and take and hold a good edge, that's just fine by me.

Moosetrot

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Mr. M-Trot,

It sounds like you have a very good operation going.  I would love to see some examples of your work. (ulu. and others).

Are you still situated in Alaska.

If not where?

I hope you post again.

Regards,

SLAG.

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Moosetrot: Did you and I talk in Fairbanks last summer? You sound just like the gentleman who had a table displaying ulus at the fair. I'm blanking on the name of the fair, it's a TBI thing. Where on Kachemak bay?

Are your edges double or single bevel?

Don't sweat using misery whips, even new ones are good steel for kitchen knives and ulus, they need tough with a bit of flex. It'll take you one or two blades to get the feel of it.

Frosty The Lucky. 

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To add to the mix, you will find both bucking saws and felling saws.  Typically a bucking saw is quite a bit thicker than the "misery whip" felling saw and only has one handle for one man use (but often holes for a second man handle). The extra thickness is because the one guy is pushing a bucking saw in addition to pulling where a 2 man is always being pulled through the kerf.  The bucker in the PNW would cut those huge rounds into train car lengths by himself, often only cutting one or two a day.  With only one handle, you could cut a log that was about 1-3/4 the length of the saw in diameter.

The thicker bucking saws are more appropriate for things requiring a stiffer blade.

But...it's a shame to see those saws cut up.  Yea, I know there are a million of 'em out there and many are already ruined.  US Forest service has an old instruction manual online somewhere (no time to find the link) regarding proper re-sharpening techniques for those.  The FS guys here used to send their saws to a guy 4 hours away because proper sharpening was so important and he got it right.  He retired and they are really bummed because finding someone with those skills these days is almost impossible.

Bucking saw--notice that it seems to not be bowed under it's own weight...that's due to being thicker material.  A 2 man felling saw would tend to show some flex in most photos.  Often you'll also see a bottle hanging near the sawyer in an old photo.  That bottle is filled with kerosene to clean and lube the saw of pitch/buildup.

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And let us not forget the saws for pit sawing lumber!---May you always be the sawyer on top!

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Just noticed in that photo that the guy's pants are a bit shiny.  That shows he was wearing "tin pants", the common choice for loggers in those days.  Tin pants are basically canvas that's been soaked in linseed oil (and other stuff) and cured to make them similar to linoleum.  Tough as nails.  Still available at about $ 250 USD a pair if you want super stiff pants to wear...forever.  Scrappers used to love them also because they were basically fire proof against cutting torches and the sharp metal would rarely cut into them.

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I have a pair of tin pants, the modern version is impregnated with some sort of wax rather than the old version. Still: water, thorn, chainsaw nick and worse armor. They don't breath though, hot, Hot, HOT.

I have a couple bucking saws in the Conex from the day I thought I was going to make knives. I'm thinking it'd work well in pattern welded billets. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Slag-While I would love to be living in Alaska, at least the town in Wisconsin I live outside of is close.....Onalaska.  It was supposedly named after Unalaska but things got changed somewhere along the line.  I have spent quite a bit of time up there.

I have some pictures of my ulu and will try to post them here.  My computer abilities are about at the level that if someone handed me an Etch-a-Sketch and told me it was a new laptop I would be happy as a clam at high tide. Will try, though.

Frosty-Sorry but I was not in Fairbanks last year.  I talked with the Aleut woman on Kachemak Bay along the Homer Spit.  When needed she would give her ulu just a little touch-up on a beach stone.  Neat to see in these days of diamond stones, ceramics, etc.  Reinforced my belief in keeping things simple. There were also others cleaning Halibut up at the cleaning station.  My son and I were just talking tonight about how fast and efficient they were with the ulu.

I got the opportunity to participate in an archeology dig on Chugachik Island in Kachemak Bay, I think in 1981.  It was a 2,000 year old Aleut hunting site.  Found some really great stuff but it all had to go to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.  The archeologist leading the dig was Dr. Bill Workman.  One of my best finds was a slate ulu blade in perfect shape.  Maybe that's what spurred my interest in the ulu.

When I first began making ulu I made them with double bevel, primarily because a lot of folks don't understand the simplicity of a chisel, or single bevel, especially down here in the States.  In the last few years, though, I have had the urge to stick to tradition so have been making them all single bevel.  Chip Hailstone and others have pointed out to me that the single bevel is a lot more efficient for skinning game and it's true.  The single bevel kind of pushes the fat and meat away from the skin better than the double does.

Well, folks, I could sit here and talk ulu for hours but these old bones need some rest.  Will do my best to post some pictures in the next couple days.

Moosetrot

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Mr. M-Trot,

Thank you for your quick response

I am Looking forward to pictures of your ulu creations.

What a coincidence, you too date back to the etch-a-sketch era, and are interested in archaeology.

Cheers,

SLAG.

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This is how to load pictures from phone or computer. From my computer I just drag the picture there and it says copy, drop it then double tap or click the picture after you hit the button to post it to resize it. I usually use 500X375 for the size.

https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/53095-posting-pictures-from-android-phone/

 

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I think I did it!  These are a couple pictures of some of my very early ulu.  They were all from the first 4 dozen I sent to Alaska.They are all double bevel.  Kind of a variety of antler handles.  I now spend a lot more time shaping, refining, and buffing the handles.  I also make some from the antler burr that look really cool but most likely wind up on a bookshelf somewhere.  Once I get rolling on them again I will post more pictures now that I know how.  Kind of at the tail end of a very painful year-long hip saga that has prevented me from working in my shop.  Setting the date for a replacement this coming Thursday.

Thanks for the help with the pictures!

Moosetrot

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Ayup, you got posting pictures down now, Moosetrot! We LOVE pictures! That's a pretty nice display of ulus and a good sampling of some of the basic shapes and sizes. 

You seem like a friendlier guy than the fellow I talked to last summer. Of course he might have been sitting there too long and I wasn't buying. 

A lot of the natives like skill saw blades it doesn't take much shaping. 

I've always been fascinated by ulus, they seem like a modernization of the most basic of stone tool, the Acheulian hand axes in particular. Polished slate and chert ulu or hand axe? Hmmmm? You see ulus ground from: bone, Ivory, antler, stone, probably wood and almost certainly copper in S.E. 

When steel showed up ulus turned to steel. 

Making them double bevel is a common beginning mistake, single edged works so much better for most everything. I've filleted a few fish with one, served me right for standing there watching the gentleman process his catch and asking why he wasn't using a fillet knife. :rolleyes: It helps to have someone who knows how show you and tell you what you're doing wrong but it's a skill set of it's own. 

The slate on the spit is a good fine grain, it's good sharpening stone for not real hard blades, axe and softer. I didn't use any, I kept my ceramic "stone" in my ruck. 

Good stuff Moosetrot, I'll say a few words with Higher about your speedy recovery.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Thanks, Frosty!  Ulu really are a very useful and durable tool and have been around for a loooonnnggg time. Years ago I got lucky on eBay and found an original reference book (at least most of it) from 1892 that studies the various ulu styles and construction across the Arctic.  It has great drawings and is truly an inspiration of how the Inuit, Aleut, and others were so adept at using what was around them to create these useful tools.

I am glad that I have gone to the single bevel not only for tradition but for better use in skinning, etc.  Folks down here are so accustomed to everything having the double bevel and they just did not understand the efficiency of the single.  I am at the point of my life and knifemaking that I want to stay as traditional and efficient as I can instead of moving volume.  I have been collecting reference photos and tooling as soon I am going to be doing some effigy handles for them.  I think it will be fun and my wonderful wife puts up with the antler stink...to a point.

Good talking with you!

Moosetrot

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Will need to dig it up.  It is a portion about ulu taken from what must have been a much larger, probably very remarkable study of natives in the High Arctic.  I found it, purely by luck while taking a look at ulu on eBay.  It's time for me to take a look at it again anyway!

Moosetrot

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Glad you joined Iforge Moosetrot, there are a number of bladesmiths here to tempt you into pattern welding and worse. The dark side is deeeeeeep and pulls. It PULLS!  :o

Frosty The Lucky.

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I have already been touched by the Dark Side. Bill Fiorini was a buddy of mine.  He taught me to blacksmith, I taught him to duck hunt.  Really sad to see all that talent and knowledge pass.  Lost a good friend.

My son, who was very little at the time used to hunt with us.  I got him going in blacksmithing quite a few years ago.  He is currently expanding his shop but is putting out some very good, clean work.  He gave me a set or grilling tools for Father's Day with great design and clean craftsmanship.  I was happy to tell him "Bill would be proud of you!"

Spent all day at the trapper's meeting.  Will do some digging in the bookshelf in the next couple days.

Moosetrot

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