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Does anyone use a buzz saw any more?

Post in 'The Gear' started by Backwoods Savage, Dec 6, 2010.

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  1. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    When I was young and again when I had two boys still at home we had a buzz saw we mounted on the front of a Farmall. One could buzz a lot of wood in a day with one of those things.

    My father also told of his younger days when all the farmers used to build big buzz piles. Then the neighbors would all get together and go from one farm to the other helping buzz wood. Some good times were had or so I heard.

    So, does anyone still use one? Has anyone else used one?

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  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I did help as a kid but never on the saw.
  3. Gary_602z

    Gary_602z Minister of Fire

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    My neighbors use one! They also built a peg and post barn by themselves.

    Gary
  4. 48rob

    48rob Feeling the Heat

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    I had one a few years ago...

    I bought it from an old man who had piles of junk everywhere.
    It took some cleaning and oiling, and then I had to sharpen all the teeth.
    He also had a very old International one cylinder stationary engine.
    I bought that too, and got it running.
    Added a belt and boy did that saw run!

    I wasn't doing firewood at the time. We just played with it for awhile cutting up whatever was laying about.
    I sold the saw and engine the next year at a vintage tractor show to a young fellow just getting started collecting engines.

    Now that I have a nice bit of wood to cut, I'm thinking I might look into another one now we have several small tractors that one could be mounted on.
    They make every piece the same length, and the ends are cut square...

    Rob
  5. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I remember as a kid seeing my grandfather run a buzz saw with a belt hooked to the tractor . . .
  6. mtarbert

    mtarbert Minister of Fire

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    We always called them "Cordwood Saw" and just about everyone had them.....and I am not that old (Am I?)
  7. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    I always thought buzzsaw was slang for a chainsaw?

    Wikapedia says it's a circular saw: like this:

    http://www.newhavenpower.com/Woodsman_Crop.jpg

    I guess they can be powered by a tractor PTO?

    I guess the wood you were cutting would have to be small enough to lift up on to it?
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Yup . . . buzz saw . . . except my grandfather's was rusty, much older and didn't have anything even remotely looking like a guard on the blade or the belt.
  9. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Kind of sucks when you walk into an antique store and look around and say " hey I had one of those, that too, and one of those..."

    Then it hits you...... you are an antique too!
  10. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I have a blade.
    I'm guessing it was my grandfather's as he had a tractor at one point.
    Before my time, though.
    There was a farm here at one point and I dig up horse shoes and metal objects often enough.
  11. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    A few years ago I borrowed my nearest neighbors buzz saw. It is a stand up/frame type that you drive stakes into the ground for support. Belted the old Case VC to her and ran about 300 old fence posts through it. You know you have the speed correct when you can hear the blade "sing". No guards, just raw scary teeth coming at you at the speed of sound, but man could that thing buzz wood. The neighbor warned me about the condition of the blade. It hadn't had its teeth set in many-o-moons and I just happen to have two different styles of sets to do this. As a return favor (and for my use), I set and resharpened all the teeth for him. Did I mention that, that thing could really buzz up some wood?
  12. 48rob

    48rob Feeling the Heat

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    Dennis,

    Maybe this was you, back then...[​IMG]



    Rob

    [​IMG]
  13. Jeff S

    Jeff S Feeling the Heat

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    My Dad and Uncle put one of these back into service about 2 years ago,they had several large truck loads of slabwood delivered for a rediculas low price and were able to cut at least 2 years worth of wood in a couple of days.My dad is 67 and Uncle 68,they grew up around this type of equipment so this was old hat to them.
  14. JoeyD

    JoeyD Minister of Fire

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    I have a 1952 Super-A with a buzz saz attachment that has never been used. Mine looks like it should attach to the rear of my tractor. As much as I'm into woodworking and firewood processing I've never had any desire or guts to try it out. Safety was not a major concern when this thing was made. :ahhh:
  15. 48rob

    48rob Feeling the Heat

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    In case anyone has never seen one of these saws running/in use, this video shows it pretty well.
    (looks like he needs to sharpen the blade badly...)

    Rob

  16. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    As you now know, there is a huge difference between a buzz saw and a chain saw.

    Do not be fooled into thinking only small stuff can be buzzed. You can cut some very large logs with it....as long as you can lift them up onto the table.

    Most common is to have 3 men working together. One grabs the new buzz logs; one runs the table and the other stands by the saw and actually grabs the log being cut and then throws the cut log onto a wagon or pickup or just into a big pile. Buzzing alone was and is very uncommon. Two people together doesn't work too bad but three is the idea.

    EDIT: One more thing I noticed on the video is that he ran the saw awfully slow.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for posting this picture Rob. That indeed could have been ours! The M Farmall worked great. What most can't see is on the opposite end of the saw is the pulley and a belt ran back to the pulley on the side of the tractor.

    In the video, that man I do not think had much experience in buzzing wood. The very first thing I noticed was when he had a longer buzz pole, his stance was all wrong! If you watch closely you will see that much of his weight was actually towards the saw itself; a definite no-no. All the weight one uses must go towards the tractor and not towards that saw. Simply put, the saw makes no distinction between cutting wood or cutting arms.

    We always had our poles running the same direction as they went onto the table too rather than having to swing them. For sure you need to do that if you have a very large pile. And, as stated, three men working together works great and it is amazing just how much wood you can buzz in a day's time.

    One of the last times we used the buzz saw was on a Thanksgiving day. We had to be at the inlaws for a big dinner by 1:30 and the boys and I started buzzing around 8:00 that morning. We finished in time but the problem was we also received 4" of snow while buzzing. That made it a bit nasty and you just could not keep the gloves dry no matter what. We'd work for a short while then run into the house to switch gloves and lay the wet ones by the stove. Also by the time we finished all our clothing was really wet. That may have been the last time we used the buzz saw as the oldest was a senior so soon left home. The youngest was only a year behind. Now all our sawing is done with the chain saw. Still, there are some good memories.
  18. 48rob

    48rob Feeling the Heat

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    Dennis,

    Memories are a good thing to enjoy with friends around a warm fire as we grow older...

    I agree, the fellow in the video doesn't look very steady on his feet, or very experienced.
    That video was the best one I could find that showed how the saw cuts in a reasonably short amount of time, there are many others out there, including some of Farmalls cutting wood, and that show the long belts, but they are pretty long.

    I'm not old enough to remember men cutting wood on the farm, but having a team of men doing chores such as this makes perfect sense.
    Less modern production used available manpower, and of course community and neighbors helping each other was the way we survived before we switched to having to be told...

    Rob
  19. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    I thought about the buzz rig route as they can be picked up cheap around here. I just don't see how you can save any time over using a chainsaw. I drag my trees up into a pile and when I get to cutting with the chainsaw I can make the chips fly. I tried the pole thing and it seemed more work moving the poles. it just didn't seem practical to me and I really don't like the blade so near to my arms. My poles aren't always straight and it seems like a knot or crook could let the pole twist or flip and that blade could get caught.
    Leaddog
  20. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    You have to remember that the time frame that the buzz-saw was popular the chainsaws were BIG, hard to handle and slow IF they had one. The two handled saws were alot of work so a buzz rig was alot faster. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have to cut enough wood to try and keep an old farm house uninsulated warm with those old time furnaces that burnt LOTS of wood. That's why mose people went to coal and they could use a stoker. The wood they used for cooking and space heating around here.
    leaddog
  21. CTYank

    CTYank Minister of Fire

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    In a sense, I still use a buzz-saw. Bought as a cheapie 10" table saw; mounted nasty 14-tooth blade.

    I use it for the final cut to length for a little stove; it'll work because the wood is previously split small enough that the blade'll reach through.

    It's a safety plus, because using a chainsaw to cut those little splits down to 8" would be dumb, not to mention much slower.

    Besides, the kerf is much smaller than for chainsaw.
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    There are reasons that chainsaws out number buzz saws 1000:1 (or more). You just listed a couple. But make no mistake, in the right environment, with the right cord wood, a buzz saw can perform like a champion race horse. Most of the wood that I turn into firewood would be virtually impossible to use a buzz saw on.

    That is why the jackshaft and blades still hang out in the corner of the shed.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Wood up to about 12" or so can indeed be cut faster on a buzz saw than on a chain saw. Remember too that one does not have to cut a single pole at a time. You many times can cut many at the same time. The trick is to not cut so many that the thrower can't get hold of them to throw. We also used to buzz a lot of slab wood when I worked in the mill and we could fill a pickup truck extremely fast. We'd usually buzz two slabs per time and have two people bringing the slabs, one on the saw and one throwing. You can always rotate people in the jobs too. Filing the danged saw was always a not-so-welcome job though.

    The number one reason buzz saws went south is because the chain saws are safer and you can do all the cutting in the same spot rather than load a wagon and haul to the buzz spot. In addition, with a buzz saw, you also need a motor of some sort to run it to that just adds to the expense. And as you can see, with only one person working, doing it all with a chain saw will probably be faster in the end.
  24. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    So Backwoods,

    what else could it be hooked up to? If you didn't have a tractor, could you jack up the pickup and hook the belt on a blank rim?

    I can see how it's not a solo machine. I bet it was productive with everyone doing their part and the right kind of wood.

    I learn something everyday here!

    Did any of the cut wood get kicked back or thrown by the blade? It just looks dangerous.
  25. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like a real redneck hookup there. Most used a tractor but some had stationary motors they had. Way back some had motors that were used on balers, then switched to combines, silo fillers, etc. And these were also the ones they used on buzz saws. We always used a tractor.

    You are right about being productive. Can you imagine a dozen farmers getting together and going from one farm to the next to buzz up the firewood for the winter? It was just like what was done for putting up hay, threshing wheat and oats, filling silos, etc. Yes, I have been involved in a few of these and we always had a good time.

    I have never seen any wood getting kicked back nor do I ever remember of anyone getting hurt even though it does look dangerous. I have heard of a few bad things though.
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