Observations from the trenches: teaching the old vintage tools to a new generation.

Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

For the last couple of months, my mobile sharpening rounds have included one day a week at the large community flea market, held every Sunday on the Fryeburg Fair Grounds, Fryeburg ME. Today I finished up with the last market of the season (they’re getting prepped for the huge Fryeburg Fair coming up!).

I was a little surprised by the day. A day that started off completely dead finished up being one of my best days ever. In addition to wall to wall sharpening, I sold almost out of stock of restored vintage hand saws, some dating back to 1870, including saws from Disston, Simonds, and Richardson Brothers.

I had an odd request from a father and his daughter for hand saws to take with her to school (try finding that at your usual back to school sale!). Turns out she’s attending the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Not only do the students build the things they design themselves, they also have to build their own desert shelter.

I thought it was interesting that, not only is this school teaching the hands on practical side of things, they’re doing it with the classical hand saws and kicking the modern power tools to the curb. Now the next time someone looks over my restored hand saws and ponders whether anyone is really still using those anymore, the answer is YES! Pick up a good quality old hand saw today and come back to the light side of the Force!


PS I set her up with a nice matched set of Disston D-23 saws in coarse crosscut (7 tpi), fine finish crosscut (11 tpi), and rip (5 1/2 tpi), basically a very standard carpenter’s set of saws, with custom finished and highlighted handles. I don’t know if she’ll have the best saws there, but she’ll have the best looking ones :).


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