Viable Hand Saws for Ripping Logs?

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Forum topic by mbbuckley posted 01-30-2015 02:44 PM 1063 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 633 days

01-30-2015 02:44 PM

So there’s not much out there on the internet, and even less in the one or two physical woodworking locales that exist around me, on the topic of making planks from raw timber without having it milled. I’m interested in purely human powered tools for the job. Being the case as that, I’ve received the most substantial results from books on ancient carpentry tools. These are what led me to find articles on tools like this

However, my search ends here. This is the only saw that I’ve been able to find that is expressly for the purpose I intend to use it for, namely, ripping logs into workable planks. Sure, I’ve seen new ripping saws advertised, but none have actually asserted the capability to cut raw timber. It seems most of these ripping saw are intended for smaller jobs on already formed wood. And, alas, this oga saw is sold nowhere.

So is my only hope to make my own? I simply do not have neither the skills nor the knowledge for that. Maybe some day, but not now.

But something inside me is just kind of astounded to think that no one hand rips logs anymore. Maybe my search just somehow has evaded some hidden glen of hand sawing timber renaissance. Or at least just the right tool for the job.

Can anyone help?

11 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1770 days

#1 posted 01-30-2015 03:07 PM

Probably have to get a pit saw from the third world or get lucky to find an antique pit saw in usable condition.
I found this link from India.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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5 posts in 633 days

#2 posted 01-30-2015 04:10 PM

Well, i actually found an Oga freshly made on the internet, which sent thrills up my spine, but it looks like its going to cost around a grand. haha. not much demand out there for it, but even less supply. i’m actually considering it. might have to wait for tax returns.

anyone have any less insane offers?

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5 posts in 633 days

#3 posted 01-30-2015 04:13 PM

Thats blade looks very possible, athough I don’t doubt it might cost the same amount. Heck, i think I might be crazy enough to do this.

View Wally331's profile (online now)


340 posts in 1444 days

#4 posted 01-30-2015 06:17 PM

You may be able to find a pit saw in restorable condition in an antiques shop provided you have a partner willing to saw with you. Circular saw mills have been around for ~200 years so big handsaws for ripping rough logs have long been obsolete. However I bet you that Roy underhill has some old videos on pit sawing if you take a look through the archives. Fairly sure they also have a pit sawing setup at Jamestown or Plymouth.

View Tim's profile


3030 posts in 1380 days

#5 posted 01-30-2015 07:02 PM

I was searching for the same thing and apparently ripping logs into lumber is so much labor that what you found is true: there’s almost zero demand for it. Back in the day two guys did the work in a pit or with an elevated trellis. One person doing it would be more than twice as slow. There was a series of article on about the different ways it was done around the world. Pit sawing has been overtaken by water or steam powered saws for long enough that pit saws command a premium, particularly one in good enough condition to put to use.

Nice find Bondo. Mbuckley, if you contact them to find out the price, please let us know. I can’t see the picture well enough to see if it has the proper gullets and tooth shape that Roy Underhill talks about in his books.

Besides that, your reasonable options currently seem to be a roubo frame saw. You can get the parts for about $130 and it does work.
You can get the blade or hardware kits separately too.

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5 posts in 633 days

#6 posted 01-30-2015 07:37 PM

Tim, thank you for the link to that excellent blog.

I’m likely going to save up for the oga. I’ve actually seen it used in videos, and, while no mill, or even two man pit-saw, it does seem to move down the wood. I’ve spent days trying to rive the boards out of logs, and after going through that mess I’m sure I’ll appreciate what the saw can do.

View Tim's profile


3030 posts in 1380 days

#7 posted 01-31-2015 01:49 AM

That oga is cool as heck, but my cheapness would probably never let me spend $1000 on it.

Check these out on the frame saw if you get tempted before your savings gets that high. :)

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1006 posts in 994 days

#8 posted 01-31-2015 10:57 PM

View Bluepine38's profile


3336 posts in 2504 days

#9 posted 02-01-2015 03:49 PM

Traditional woodworker has them priced cheaper than those I see listed on Craigslist from Canada. I have
both a two man and a one man saw that I have had for quite a few years, although they have not seen
much use since the boys have grown up and left home. Chapter 14-Pitman’s Progress in Roy Underhill’s
“The Woodwright’s Companion deals with hand ripsawing logs. But Henry Mayhew in the “London Labour
and the Londor Poor” (1860) did warn that the extremely hard labour of the sawyers was the cause of
their intemperance, so it might be less expensive to buy gas for a power saw that alcohol for yourself:-)
The free Crosscut Saw Manual from the Forest Service (Rev. December 2003 7771-2508-MTDC) will give
you good information on the saws and their sharpening. The last time I was in Missoula Saws here in
Montana they were still selling these saws. You do not give your location, but here in Missoula, Mt. there
are quite few people that are still addicted to the old style of woodworking. I am surprised that Bondo
does not have a whip saw.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

View bold1's profile


259 posts in 1266 days

#10 posted 02-01-2015 04:30 PM

I’ve never seen it done, but before I’d spend $1,000, I’d take a 2 man crosscut and put more set into it and see how it performs. I believe the rakers would be OK, even for the larger chips. If it doesn’t work you should be able to resale it, as most people who are buying them only hang them on the wall, and have no idea how much set they should have. I’d prob. replace the straight peg handle with a T handle. I was told that the bottom man does most of the work in the pit(he can use his body weight) the top man is to reset the blade. Makes sense as the chips would fall free on the downstroke and not clog the cut.

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5 posts in 633 days

#11 posted 02-02-2015 03:07 AM

Thanks for the references Bluepine, I’m always interested in any historical documentation of the guys who actually did this stuff for a living. I’m going in green, and any information on the practices and lives of the professional sawyer is like gold. And that manual will definitely help. I definitely want to know how to maintain whichever saw I end up with to its peak form.

Bold1, I was thinking about that since cross cuts are much more widely available and generally cheaper, but the tuttle style teeth just intuitively don’t seem like they will be able to get going really easy on the end of a log. I just imagine starting the cut to be a bit of a bother, and then I wonder how straight i’d be able to keep the cut with something so long. But, I will be wanting a crosscut in the future anyway.

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