Saw Mill Characters


| November/December 1958



R. D. 4, Savannah, Missouri

AS LIKE VERY MUCH to read the articles that other men write I thought I would put in my nickels worth. I will give it the name of Saw Mill Characters I have met.

First the one who probably had a college degree as he could tell you at the first glance and feet of travel at the rim, tension and everything else. Like the feet and speed of every belt and pounds of pull it would deliver or what strain any size of shaft would stand. He had a new outfit and mostly sawed soft wood. One old mill man I knew always had a name for every kind of a mill man, such as if the man frequently adjusted the guide, he called his a guide pin sawyar. If he frequently changed teeth he was a New Tooth Sawyer. So we will call this man a New Tooth Sawyer.

Well a fellow brought him a large frozen black oak to be sawed. Was he surprised when he found he could not saw it, at least until he got an old mill man to straighten him out.

Then there were two other men. One we will call uncle George and the other uncle Hutch. Both men were from the Old School. One had missed the school house entirely, the other had a little book learning and both knew their saws. The one that missed the road to the school house claimed he was born in a saw pit and cut his teeth on a cant hook but just the same could saw good lumber. He could not measure up the feet he sawed but could guess within a few feet. It wan always so many hundred or thousand, which ever it happened to be, and 85 ft. I remember once he sawed a lot of bridge lumber for the county. He said it was 30 thousand and 85 ft. The Highway Engineer measured it up and the sawyer was so near correct the Engineer never changed the figures and never knew the difference for a long time.

The other old fellow we call uncle George had a swedge that looked like the one Columbus had and an old file and old claw hammer but when he had finished filing and swedging his old saw would sing straight through any log. I used to help him some, set ratchets. He would always say 'set it at 12 and two of them little marks the other side' or 'set it at 15 and one of them little marks this side' Meaning, of course, of an inch. It was always right.