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Thread: The question of the saw nib.

  1. #1

    The question of the saw nib.

    So as we all know there is an uncertainty as to what the nib on the end of the saw plate was actually used for, some say decoration, other say to secure a batten in to which the teeth sat to protect them. Well while surfing youtube this morning I found a gent who calls himself Mr Chickadee, he builds timer frame cabins and the such using trad methods and tools, while watching this fine fellow I spotted that he uses the nib to start the cut??? I don't think I've heard that one before. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ar6ikn4EVc about 1.10 in.

    Interesting.

    Matt

  2. #2
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    That is ridiculous. Original saw nibs are a rounded lump,NOT tooth shaped. Also,the saw is much thinner along the back,and there CANNOT be any SET to a single tooth!! Did he RE FILE the nib into a tooth ? Even if he did,the saw is very much thinner than on the tooth side.

    MUCH less so in the 18th. C.. But,their nibs were STILL just round.

    This would be like using a small dovetail saw cut from a fifteen thousandths thick dovetail to start a 42 thousandths thick saw!!!!!!!

    I recommend just learning how to accurately start a saw!!! And NOT by watching woodworking TV shows.
    Last edited by george wilson; 06-24-2016 at 7:42 AM.

  3. #3
    It doesn't have to be the original intended use for the nib, but if it works, I'd say more power to him. It is interesting to see it used that way. I might even try it on one of my saws to see how it works.

  4. #4
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    Marking (not actually starting) a cut is what I've always been taught it was the purpose of the nib.

  5. #5
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    As George said, nibs are rounded, and such, were designed for the workman to safely scratch his/her back with it.

    Seriously, the nib discussion has been around forever, and if I remember correctly several web saw pundits went so far as to post drawings on ancient saws that had nib-like adornments, so I'm of the camp that nibs were simply a decorative touch (but also to use to scratch an itch).
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  6. #6
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    No, the nib is not a cutting or marking tool. Nor is it a FRONT SIGHT(as has been suggested) REALLY!!! Many things have been ascribed to the nib. But, in their original form,they are quite round in shape. We had original,unused 18th. C. saws to reproduce dozens of. The nibs were ROUNDED.

    Carpenters in England carried their tools around in BASKETS. Having a loose saw in there would scratch who knows what. The alternative was a tool chest. I have seen old jointer planes with rip saw teeth firmly and DEEPLY imprinted down their sides. They were in tool boxes,but transportation in wagons was a very BUMPY and harsh, teeth jaring experience.(ever ride in one ? ,I have,many times. How about on cobble stones! Or rutty dirt roads? ). A tool chest carried about in a wagon had better have a protective batten on the teeth, if you value your tools. Some didn't.

    As a sad aside,I read about an old man,retired,who BURNED all his tools,because they had caused him so much work!! That person was never suited to be a woodworker. Possibly forced into it by his father.
    Last edited by george wilson; 06-24-2016 at 9:08 AM.

  7. #7
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    I couldn't tell from the video if he started the cut with the nib, but it's clear he's marking the cut with the back of the saw. I guess that could work. If I HAD to mark the cut with the nib, I don't doubt it could be sharpened to do so; it wouldn't be unreasonable for someone to modify their tools for fit, form or function. In fact, people should do that.

  8. #8
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    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by george wilson View Post
    No, the nib is not a cutting or marking tool. Nor is it a FRONT SIGHT(as has been suggested) REALLY!!! Many things have been ascribed to the nib. But, in their original form,they are quite round in shape. We had original,unused 18th. C. saws to reproduce dozens of. The nibs were ROUNDED.

    Carpenters in England carried their tools around in BASKETS. Having a loose saw in there would scratch who knows what. The alternative was a tool chest. I have seen old jointer planes with rip saw teeth firmly and DEEPLY imprinted down their sides. They were in tool boxes,but transportation in wagons was a very BUMPY and harsh, teeth jaring experience.(ever ride in one ? ,I have,many times. How about on cobble stones! Or rutty dirt roads? ). A tool chest carried about in a wagon had better have a protective batten on the teeth, if you value your tools. Some didn't.

    As a sad aside,I read about an old man,retired,who BURNED all his tools,because they had caused him so much work!! That person was never suited to be a woodworker. Possibly forced into it by his father.
    I think it has been discussed many times that the nib was a feature intended to secure some kind of tooth protector to the saw plate. I can only imagine that tooth protector was a leather device of some sort and that the device was secured to the saw plate front and back by elastic / bungee cords. One around the handle of the tool and the other smaller one hooked over the top of the nib.
    Last edited by Pat Barry; 06-24-2016 at 11:39 AM.

  9. #9
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    I think the nip is there to give "creekers" something to talk about.

  10. #10
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    Not leather. The tooth protector was a long stick with a groove down it that was cut with the same saw. Then,it was tied behind the nib and around the lamb's tongue with grocery twine,or whatever. They didn't have bungee cords in the old days. Leather would sag and expose the teeth.

    I have seen leather HOLSTERS that look like rifle scabbards that protected the whole blade. But,they aren't common. Someone with particular pride in a saw might make something like that.

    I hope this is not going. to turn into a 12 page debate. I don't know how many times we have to discuss the same thing.
    Last edited by george wilson; 06-24-2016 at 3:14 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by george wilson View Post
    Not leather. The tooth protector was a long stick with a groove down it that was cut with the same saw. Then,it was tied behind the nib and around the lamb's tongue with grocery twine,or whatever. They didn't have bungee cords in the old days. Leather would sag and expose the teeth.

    I have seen leather HOLSTERS that look like rifle scabbards that protected the whole blade. But,they aren't common. Someone with particular pride in a saw might make something like that.

    I hope this is not going. to turn into a 12 page debate. I don't know how many times we have to discuss the same thing.

    At this past year's "Patina" gathering in Damascus, I got a full plate, shiny #12, private labeled for a hardware store, in a leather scabbard. Scabbard looked to bed professionally. Saw was also sharp and both cist $20.00. Downside was that the saw was a coarse rip. This was outside in the tailgating part of the show. Inside, I found an identical scabbard, priced at $40, and without a saw.

    Oh yeah, the nib was present in all its glory on the saw!
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  12. #12
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    So,we can address you as "your Nibs"!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    i think the nip is there to give "creekers" something to talk about.
    +1.

    And dont sweat it Matt - this is a perennial topic here at the Creek. It'll come up again in 6 mos.
    Last edited by Frederick Skelly; 06-24-2016 at 6:05 PM.

  14. #14
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    All of the old Disston and Atkins catalogs that I've collected say they are only for decoration, but if you find another use for it I guess it's just icing on the cake,A SAW CAKE!!
    I was once a woodworker, I still am I'm just saying that I once was.

    Chop your own wood, it will warm you twice. -Henry Ford

  15. #15
    "Nor is it front sight"...Sounds like somebody missed a great episode of Mac Gyver quickly making a pistol.

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