The Man with a Thousand Saws

A Michigan chainsaw collection inspired by a pile of chainsaws in a scrapyard celebrates the Upper Peninsula’s logging heritage.

| April 2019

 mutti-with-saw
Mutti is often asked which is his favorite chainsaw. His answer: “The one that starts.”

Gerald “Mutti” Ketola owns more than 1,000 chainsaws. He lives near the town of Gwinn, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where logging is still done. In days gone by, many men throughout the state worked at remote lumber camps, felling trees and floating logs down rivers to saw mills.

Mutti (Finnish for Matt, Mutti’s middle name) began collecting chainsaws about 12 years ago, after visiting a scrap yard with his cousin and seeing several chainsaws tossed in a pile. Sensing their role in local history, he wished there were a way to save them. Those saws didn’t leave the scrap yard, but they did inspire a collection.

bow-saw
This Precision bow saw produced in Montreal, Canada, between 1946-48, is one of Mutti Ketola’s oddballs.



Within a few months, Mutti’s saw collection edged close to the three-dozen mark. He was invited to display them at Gwinn Fun Days in 2006. People who saw the display began to offer old saws to him. Some of those saws not been used for years; some were donated by relatives. Mutti took them all. What else could he do? “My grandpa and grandma saved everything,” he says.

His display at the U.P. Steam & Gas Engine Assn. show in Escanaba, Michigan, brought in more saws. After the show, a man with an old saw called to tell him to come and get it if he wanted it. “‘My grandkids will just throw it away,’” the man told him. “‘I know you’ll take care of it.’”



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