Cross Cut Saw Certification

By Patty Wilber

Last weekend there was a Appaloosa show in Colorado, but since I am leaving late  (early Weds am?) Tuesday night for Texas for the Texas Premier Horse Sale, and my fall term just started 8/30 at the college, it was just too much.  That did free up Saturday for Cross Cut Saw Certification, through the Forest Service for Back Country Horsemen, though.

So, off to Panchuela in the Pecos with three other members of our Chapter (Sandy E., Richard and Amber K.).

Our instructor was Dan Key and Miles Standish came along, too.  Miles was one of the instructors for my first saw clinic way back when. They both are retired from the Forest Service and did miles and miles of back country trail work in all sorts of conditions. It was really fun to listen to them talk about their saws and their work.

“Their saws?”, you ask.  Working in the wilderness means using hand tools.  Mechanized tools are not permitted.  Thus the use of cross cut saws.  The vintage saws are much better than the modern saws in terms of, well, everything.  The metal is less brittle and they have a crescent grind: the width teeth are wider than the with of the back of the saw, which means they do not bind as easily.  Also, they sing when they are working. Both Dan and Miles had particular saws they really liked and they spend time and effort taking care of them.

Check out this video if you want more info on vintage saws.

Another thing that Miles and Dan talked about was the skill required to properly tune and sharpen a cross cut saw.  It can take hours, and is different for different types of wood.  But, when properly tuned and sharpened, the saws are amazingly efficient.

Anyway, we did the classroom portion on the porch of an old cabin at the admin site at Panchuela. We reviewed the basics of bucking (cutting logs that have fallen down–as in across trails) not felling (cutting down standing trees). And then we went out to cut.

My partner Eric (a forest service employee) and I got the tricky one.  Our log was pretty large, was on a steep slope, and was pinned between some dead standing trees that had the potential to fall during our bucking operation.

Here we are carefully unsheathing the cross cut. They are very sharp! Photo by Sandy E.

I got to be the lead and, was I ever slow!  But after assessing all the potential issues, we got started.  We cleared our work area, we established our escape routes, we debarked the tree with an axe, and then we started our double compound cut–two angles to allow the log to drop to the ground and be rolled out the way. We had a spotter to keep an eye on the dead trees.

It all went really well.  We did have to use wedges when the kerf (the cut made by the saw) began to close in on the saw and bind it. Then the pressure of the log on wedges held the log up until we cut through the very last bit of wood!  It fell right where I had planned!  Whoop!

Double compound cut. Photo by Sandy E.

After the clinic we dropped in at Pecos National Historic Park as it was right on our way out of the town of Pecos. It covers history of the Pecos Pueblo and colonization by the Spanish.  The park had a nice visitor center, that we did not tour well because it was closed after we finished the hike.  But the hike had a written guide that they gave us in the visitor center, as well as new and interesting informational signs, and new plant signs that were placed accurately by various plants along the trail.

It was a nice way to spend a Saturday.

And now, off to the sale with H.

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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1 Response to Cross Cut Saw Certification

  1. Corrie says:

    Great read Patty! Really enjoyed all the visuals and it is cool to see a vintage saw at work.

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