How to Buy a REAL Bucking Crosscut Saw

How to Buy a REAL Bucking Crosscut Saw

If we run to the internet thinking there are new, “authentic” 1 or 2 person crosscut saws on the market, well don’t waste your money! The original antique saws are the only real deal on the market today, see Figure (1). A “new” crosscut saw that forms to the specifications of a real logging saws of the past, can run us well over $1000 as a “custom” design but they will not fit the form of the authentic saws. The grinders, the workmanship, or the tools used 75+ years ago no longer exist.  But, if we spot a new 2 person cross cut saw for around $600 on the internet today, then this is more of a wall saw for display then an actual saw that could buck a 3 foot DA log. Ok then, is there any way to own a new authentic logging buck crosscut saw on the market today? Here is what we need to look for if one does exist for a pre-order.

[Figure 1] 75+ year old buck saws can still be found in great condition for sale “un-rusted”.


What grade of carbon steel is used?

If a manufacture will not inform you of the grade or steel, or makes up a wacky name for the steel they use, then don’t waste your time with them. Most likely the grade of steel used today for saws is Mild steel. Mild carbon steel will bend, (ductile), and rust easily and the teeth will wear faster. High carbon steel has a higher tensile strength yet brittle and can break if bent, see Figure (2). The teeth will resist wear but rust is a concern.

[Figure 2] The type of steel is critical to the durability of a saw.

Most saws in the 1600 to 1800’s were mild carbon steel. At the turn of the century, saw manufactures turned to an alloy called “Silver Steel,” BS-1407. Silver steel contains a high volume of carbon, 1.0 percent, 0.40 percent chromium, 0.35 percent manganese and 0.30 percent silicon. Silver Steel was heat treated, (gas tempered), to have a high tensile strength, a degree of ductility, resist rust, and teeth hardening that can be re-formed. This high quality alloy is the reason why we can find 80 year old saws today for sale that almost look new.  Some saws can be formed using stainless steel yet stainless has less carbon content and not as durable. See Figure (3).

[Figure 3] Quality saws were a hot ticket item in the 1900’s to last a lifetime. Atkins made quality saws from 1870’s to the 1950’s. No company comes close today to meet their standards.


How is the saw formed?

All the manufactures today, that I have found, use flat 14+ gauge steel plate on all bucking crosscut saws. They simply punch the teeth out the blade and sell as is, some without even setting, (swedging) the teeth so the kerf is large enough make room for blade ; profit is more subjective then quality. This flat steel saw is great for restaurant wall showcases but not for actually sawing and bucking large logs. A real lumber bucking saw is tapered, something like 14 x 19 gauge, where the cutting end is thicker then the back of the saw. This eliminates the saw to bind in the kerf of the log while cutting. To add strength to the saw, saw manufactures formed, (ground), the saw into a Crescent taper or Straight taper. A two person bucking saw can be used as one with this strengthening and the saw can be transported in a bend over one’s shoulder. The exception to this form of grinding are the shorter one person saws that taper from the head of the saw to the tip. The single person saws were great for cutting smaller logs and large branches where binding was less of a concern. See figure (4a) and (4b). Today, even as in the 1900’s, there are many uses for flat plate saws as well as tapered. But today, cost drives our market over quality so the tapered saws are simply no longer manufactured. If you see an 80 year old crosscut saw for sale on the internet in good condition, buy it then waste your money on a “new” fake saw.

Figure 4a

Figure 4b


What is the difference in the tooth design?

In the early 1500’s, crosscut saws had a simple plain tooth design for ripping and bucking, see Figure (5). Amazing today that the on-line buy everything websites still sell this generic ripping tooth patterns on new crosscut saws. Most of us are simply un-educated in the history of saw design since we are all now depend on chainsaws. The “M” tooth design originated in Germany back in the 1400’s. The “Great American” tooth design was never as efficient as the raker drag concept, (Champion, Lance), that took the logging industry by storm in the 1900’s. As we can see in figure (6), there were many raker teeth patterns used in that industry depending on the tree, the conditions and personal preference. Even today’s home market simple bow saw still uses the raker drag tooth design. See Figure (7).  To understand how the teeth cut, see SurvivorDuty post “Saw For Energy.”

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7


Are saw handles a big concern?

What we are finding on the internet today are riveted on saw handles. Stay away from those saws. Saw handles for a 2 person crosscut saw were made removable for a reason. If we are falling a large tree, at the point of the fall, we would remove one handle and have one person finish the cut, for safety reasons, to slide the saw out of the kerf fast. Also, if a saw binded in the kerf, we would remove one handle and try to hammer in a chisel on the back side so we could slide the saw out. Most of the heavy concentrated loads of pulling and pushing on a crosscut saw is the moment and sheer forces in the bolt and handle bracket. If this was a real saw, the lumberjack would simply replace the handle. With a riveted handle failure, we would simply throw the saw away. Here again the reasons why new saws on the market are imitation or just showcase wall saws never meant to hang with the big logging brothers of the past. See Figure (8). Stick with a real saw with real removable handles.

Figure 8


The Science Channel’s “How It’s Made Crosscut Saws” basically demonstrated the mass produced throw-a-way generation: The inexpensive showcase saws. Flat carbon steel, no tapering, light gauge steel, no set tools to gauge the swedges, no raker teeth and riveted handles.



SurvivorDuty will soon offer our readers a new crosscut saw holding to the original specifications and durability. Survivor Duty means heavy duty, long lasting, reparable.


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