What You can do with Whip Saws
By: The Working Man
The whipsaw is a long saw that is used by two people. It could be
considered to be a crosscut saw with teeth specially made to make
horizontal cuts. This type of saw was used in the lumber industry
to cut down trees safely. For some jobs using a whipsaw is
actually safer, especially when used by experienced operators.
You can find whipsaws for sale at some hardware stores and
You can see pictures of whipsaws in old paintings of lumberjacks.
It is a thin, long saw with two handles and has been used by
lumberjacks even today. Once a tree is chosen for cutting, the
lumberjacks would clear the area and then get to work with the
The way the whipsaw operates is that two men pull the saw back
and forth and through the log. The teeth are sharpened on both
sides so the whipsaw cuts on both sides and is designed to clear
the sawdust out of the kerf as it cuts. The people operating the
whipsaw stand on either side of the tree to be cut down and one
pulls to their side and then the other person pulls to their
It takes a lot of muscle and stamina to operate a whipsaw and it
can not be done without two people. It does require coordination,
skill, strength and stamina to operate a whipsaw. People who are
used to the whipsaw and experienced can get into an easy rhythm
that makes cutting down tree safe, efficient and quick.
But whipsaws are very dangerous when proper care is not taken.
The people operating the saw must have and keep a firm grip on
both ends of the saw so while one person is pulling the other
person must hang on to the other side even though the other
person is doing the work.
If one person lets go it could result in the saw binding or even
pulling out of the kerf and cutting someone, occasionally even
fatally. Also if the kerf isn't made yet the whipsaw can bounce
off of the tree and cut someone badly.
You can see examples of whipsaws in many museums. They are still
used today for tree trimming in the lumber industry and still
used to fell trees in other parts of the world. There are
contests and demonstrations today on using the whipsaw to fell
trees. In these demonstrations you can see how a whipsaw operates
and appreciate the work that went into felling trees before steam
powered and gas powered saws were invented.
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