ODE TO THE SWEDE SAW
In the lower left of Figure 4, you see a couple of handsaws on the ground. Those are old bow saws, also called
“Swede saws” because of where they were invented.
One of our old Minnesota neighbors cut firewood
for a living with a big old crosscut (cuts on both
strokes) two-handed handsaw in the 1930s. He was
just getting by, selling 4 cords of wood a day. Then he
bought one of the new Swede saws, started cutting
8 cords a day, and had enough money to get married.
The tubular steel bow puts the blade under high
tension so the blade can be very thin without puckering. Because the blade is narrow, it won’t bind in the
kerf (groove made by a cutting tool) as much. Bow
saws can cut a very narrow kerf, removing less wood,
and do it fast with less work than previous saws, which
weren’t much different from what the Romans had.
My cousin’s father-in-law was killed by a vine that
was pulled by a tree as it fell.
Photography by Moana Minton
If you didn’t cut all the way to the notch, your “living
hinge” may keep the tree from falling to the side.
Step 4. The tree’s hung up. Now what?
I misjudged the height of the tree and the distance
to its nearest neighbor. I have no depth perception.
That’s why they wouldn’t let me fly jets. It fell in the
right direction, but it skinned the next tree over and
hung up in it. Now it needs to be sawn through the
middle to finish falling down.
There are always problems like this. This one’s
called a “widowmaker” because you’ve just compressed the spring of a giant trap, and now you’ve
got to walk into it and saw through the trigger.
Step 5. Saw up from the bottom.
There’s no safe way to proceed once you’ve got a
“leaner” tree hanging like a compressed spring. If
you cut down from the top, the tree will sag and bind
the blade like a clamp. This is dangerous, because
if the blade catches, then the chainsaw kicks back
at you and can alter your appearance. Basically, you
need a safe way (there isn’t one) to cut the middle of
something supported on both ends.
Here’s my cousin Rod’s method: Saw up from the
bottom until the tree starts to sag. Then saw down
from the top until a good outcome ensues. Cut a
notch if the blade starts to bind.
Step 6. Check yourself into the clinic.
I stand in awe at the sight of this forest giant laid
low. If things don’t go so well, your loved ones will
get to contemplate your own mortality.
Tim Anderson ( mit.edu/robot) is the founder of Z Corp. See a
hundred more of his projects at instructables.com.