Both circular saw and the reciprocating saw (Pit saw) were rip saws.
I forget which water mill it is in Indiana, (We visited most) but that
reciprocating saw was used for ripping logs in to useable planks.
I do not know when the circular saw was first used for cross grain
cutting. ie in a construction type of environment.
I don't know but expect at the same time or very shortly after the were
adapted to cut to length...folks didn't generally wait around back then
for somebody else to come up with a modification; _somebody_ at a mill
somewhere did it long before the electric motor and the Skilsaw like
I'd agree. Steam powered saw mills I've seen from the 1890's
(sample size of 2) have two blades, a large one for ripping,
and a smaller one mounted on a swinging arm crosswise to the
carriage, to cut boards to length.
The swinging arm allowed the blade to move, which otherwise
would be difficult with a belt drive.
I'd guess someone figured that arrangement out very soon after
they figured out how to spin the ripping blade.
The Chinese and Romans had waterwheel-powered trip mills for as early as
1st century AD and some say even earlier.
The Roman Hierapolis sawmill cut stone block dating back to 3rc century
AD incorporated a crank and connecting rod for reciprocating motion; the
first known instance although undoubtedly somebody had the idea even
earlier it's the first documented location of an operational facility.
As for specific woodworking I don't know what was the first we have
record of but I'm sure it's quite old.
I think the trick here is going to be defining what's a tool
more than what's power, but certainly you're right that
water powered mills for grinding grains have been around for
a very long time.
As another contender, I'll offer the spring-pole lathe,
altho that's arguably animal (human) powered.
There were many woodworking shops located near rivers, streams. Most
all the equipment was run by belts driven by a water wheel.
I would feel confident in saying that those shops existed before
electricity was introduced.
Googled, and found this. Look at the second picture.
I'd agree with you that water powered (and horse powered)
lathes came before steam powered (and all of them well before
It's probably worth noting, tho, that demand for lathes to
make anything other that light stuff like chair spindles was
pretty minimal prior to the invention of the steam engine
and consequent Industrial Age, so water powered lathes would
not have been very common.
I suspect Sir Flinders Petrie would take issue with your assessment of
minimal demand for lathes prior to the steam engine. ;-)
(last paragraph) http://pages.citebite.com/t4j5r8v0j0umi
Perhaps the circular saw dates back much, MUCH further than has been
discussed thus far?
Pretty sure water predates wind as a power source for milling
grain and stuff (the Greeks and Romans had water mills), but
purely as a power source you'd have to count sails on boats,
I think, and those go back to the ancient Egyptians if not
even further back.
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