| April/May 2001

518 SE 921Knob Noster, MO 65336

By the early 1900s the gasoline engine was reliable enough to have many practical uses on the farms throughout the country. The manufacturers of these engines were quick to realize their potential and soon adapted them to nearly every chore imaginable. One of these was the sawing of firewood.

A lot of the people of that time used wood to heat their homes and for cooking. With a portable saw rig the work could be reduced tremendously compared to the crosscut saw.

Some of the early manufacturers of these engines made the drag saw, which was nothing more than an engine connected to a crosscut saw on wheels. Although kind of crude, it was effective. You could cut down large trees with it, then cut the trunk into lengths to be split into firewood.

The portable saw rig was much faster than the drag saw but it required the trees to be small enough to be handled by hand. The 7 HP Monitor Saw Rig weighed in at 2,335 pounds with a 28-inch blade. Working speed for this engine was 375 rpm, with a blade speed of about 750 rpm. Even though it had a metal shroud that partially covered the blade, it must have been quite an experience working next to the business end of a machine like this knowing very well that one slip could send a man to meet his maker in two pieces.

Some of my earliest memories of cutting firewood were in the late '50s. I was too young to help, but remember Dad had what he called a pole saw that he belted to a tractor. We had a few acres of post oak trees that were about the right size to handle for the pole saw. I don't recall too much about how the trees were cut, but it must have been with Dad on one end and one of my older brothers on the other end of the crosscut saw or ax. They would probably be able to set my memory straight on this. Wasn't too long after this that we got a chainsaw.