The Lost Art of Crosscut Saw FilingPosted by SCC on Monday, April 20th, 2009.
From April 6th-10th I traveled to Missoula Montana to learn the lost art of crosscut saw filing. The training was put on at the USFS Ninemile Heritage Center outside of Missoula. The instructor, Warren Miller, was one of the people who wrote the USFS manual on crosscut saws, and is still the respected authority of crosscut saw filing for the Forest Service.
The best crosscuts are “vintage” as in they were made before 1960. Those are still the saws that are used today. When sharpening these crosscuts you are working with a piece of history. Even the tools used are vintage. Few new crosscuts are made today and most sawyers perfer the vintage saws to modern saws. The crosscut was quickly replaced by the arrival of the chainsaw in the 1930′s but many sections of federal land are wilderness, and no power tools can be used. In these areas the crosscut is still king.
Over the period of a week I learned the many steps involved in making a vintage crosscut saw “sing”. Even with a week training it will take many saws before I would say that I am a good saw filer.
We where rewarded on the last day of the training by using the saws we hard sharpened to cut down and buck up some trees. I wouldn’t say my saw sang, but it cut a whole lot better than the week before.
SCC Sonoran Desert
Field Operations Coordinator