Bowsaw for Cutting Firewood

by George Bernhard
(Philadelphia PA)

Matt,

I enjoy hand sawing firewood vs. chain sawing, for the exercise, quietness, less prep and clean up time. I continue to use a 30" standard bow saw, which has its limits. The wood I cut is up to 10' in diameter. Do you have a recommendation for a good saw, shy of a 2-man hand saw?

Thank you - George Bernhard

Answer

George,

I also enjoy using a bowsaw for cutting wood by hand. Unfortunately, there aren't many companies producing full size bowsaws any longer.

Bowsaws were very popular in the eastern US and Canada before chainsaws came along for cutting pulpwood. Pulpwood is used for making paper products and is generally smaller sized than the large logs that go to sawmills. For this reason, woodcutters would use a bowsaw to cut up this "pulpwood" before sending it to the mill. A fullsize bowsaw blade is actually 42" long and the frame is a full 48". This was handy for the men working in the woods as the wood needed to be cut to 4 foot lengths. They could use the bowsaw frame to measure the wood, then cut it to length with the same tool. I believe that you would find a 42" blade more adept for your purposes.

Unfortunately, I can't give you any information about manufacturers that are currently producing them. Your best bet is to look on Ebay or try some local antique tool shops.

I personally own a 48" frame and some 42" blades that are specially filed for racing in soft wood for lumberjack contests. They are capable of cutting under 4 seconds in 10" wood, which is faster than most homeowner chainsaws. You couldn't expect a working blade to perform the same, but I think you'll get improved performance. Below is a video of me cutting with a racing blade to give you an idea of how fast bowsaws can actually cut.



Hope this helps!

-Firewood Matt

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