Dick and the saw he built from scratch, much as it would have been made in the 1880s.
Dick Holcombe’s portable up-and-down sawmill.
This 2 HP Fairbanks-Morse handles the power requirements of the portable saw with ease. The belt is real leather; there were miles of leather belting manufactured in Sullivan County, Pa., until the turn of the last century. For backup power, or saw demonstration, a 1 HP electric or a 5 HP Honda gas engine is concealed in the framework.
The crank arm is counter-weighted with poured lead. The leather hinge provides flexibility to the brass crank bearing and a grease cup provides lubrication.
The saw blade cutting an 18-inch poplar log. The saw is mounted in a heavy ash frame called sash. Heavy tension bolts secure the blade and adjustable wooden guides keep the saw aligned. An adjustment, called “kilter,” can be made that allows the top of the saw to tilt slightly forward so that as the blade progresses downward, it advances into the log.
The belt tensioning idler controls the start and stop of the up-and-down motion
The ratchet wheel is made from glued wood. Each notch advances the log 1/16-inch. The pawl that turns the ratchet wheel can be adjusted to advance the pawl one, two or three notches, depending on the species, size and end use of the finished board.