Pit sawing involves two men, and, traditionally, the top sawyer is the senior of the two, owner and caretaker of the saw. The pull stroke of the other man, the pitman, does the actual cutting of the wood, using the pitman's weight to his advantage as he rocks back on one leg. The top man keeps the cut on course and must pull the saw back up with his arms and shoulders alone.
You start a cut by hooking one tooth about 1/8 inch in from the edge. The pitman makes one sure downward stroke, and the work begins. Until the
gullets of the teeth are buried in the kerf, sawdust will spray out to the sides. Once you've cut an inch into the log, though, the heavy sawdust falls directly down about two feet in front of the pitman. When the cut is far enough into the log to allow it, drive a wooden wedge into the kerf behind the saw. As the kerf progresses, drive in a second wedge further along, free the first wedge and leapfrog them along as you saw.
Just as with the two-man crosscut saw, the work is done on the pull stroke. To push would kink the saw; there is some pushing, but it must be the lesser force. The pitman bears off the face of the kerf during the upstroke with a gentle lift to the lower handle or box. Any resting of the pitman's arms on the upstroke will quickly wear out the top sawyer. The top sawyer can help his partner by pushing down just enough to help the cut along—but never so much as to cause the saw to chatter and jump.
The top man guides the saw with the long-handled tiller. Twisting the tiller steers the cut down the top line. Bending, or "throwing," the saw causes it to lever against the top edge of the kerf and forces the bottom in the opposite direction. The pitman can steer to some extent with his handle, the box, but the leverage from above is essential. All the steering in the world can be defeated by a cut that has fallen out of plumb. The log should be shimmed with wooden wedges and secured with spike dogs, but check the plumb if the saw starts wanting to run off line.
A good top sawyer stands close to the saw, nose to the teeth, keeping the saw cutting vertically. Every foot or so, the top sawyer has to step back to keep from sawing himself in half. This changes the angle of the cut, and this shows in the saw marks — the diagnostic pattern of pit-sawn timber.
So it goes, sawing and wedging the kerf until the pitman calls out to warn the top sawyer that they are about to cut into a support timber. If the log is to be cut into more than two pieces, all the kerfs will be sawn up to the first support before continuing any one kerf to the end of the log.
Once all these cuts are complete, you move the support forward and knock loose the bottom box, then pull out the saw and reinsert it on the near side of the support. This is where sawyers show panache. The top sawyer draws the blade from the kerf like a saber from a scabbard, walks with it along the log, and stabs it through the next kerf. Beneath the log the pitman holds the box poised to capture the end of the blade the instant it appears. The pitman drives the wedge tight in the box, and the sawing continues.
Was this article helpful?
There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.