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American Saw Company - Trenton, N.J.


History Overview

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In the "History of the City of Trenton, New Jersey", published in 1871, John O. Raum writes:

"The American Saw Company was organized under the laws of New York, in January, 1866, with a capital of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

The manufactory is located at the foot of Broad street, in this city, with a general office in the city of New York.  Its officers, at the date of its organization, were James C. Wilson, president; Henry G. Ely, treasurer; Samuel W. Putnam, secretary — all residents of Brooklyn, New York; and James E. Emerson, superintendent, of Trenton. 

No change in its officers occurred until January, 1869, when Mr. James E. Emerson resigned the position of superintendent, and was succeeded by William E. Brooke, who still holds the office.

American Saw Company - factory in Trenton, N.J.
Image from advertisement, published in Palmers Register - 1885.

From the map of City of Trenton - 1872

The company was organized for the purpose of manufacturing movable tooth circular saws, an invention of Mr. Emerson while in California, in 1860, but greatly improved in the more recent invention of September, 1865, and under which patent the company manufacture.

During the summer of 1867, other improvements and inventions were made in the manufacture of saws, the principal one being the perforated patent.  This invention being applicable to saws of all descriptions, extends largely into the productions of the company state in the Union, and orders are received from many foreign countries.

This has become one of the important branches of industry of our city, employing one hundred men, at an annual pay roll expenditure of sixty thousand dollars.  It is worthy of note, that at this manufactory was made the largest saw the world has produced, it measuring seven feet four inches in diameter, the plate for which was rolled expressly for the purpose, in Sheffield, England.  This saw was manufactured for the Universal Exposition in Paris, in the year 1867."

Just a few months after production of saws begun, on August 20, 1866 the Trenton Daily State Gazette reported:

The American Saw Company’s Works

"The company was organized under the laws of the State of New York in January last, with capital stock of $250,000, some of which is owned in this city, but the large portion in the hands of capitalists in New York. The works are located east of the canal on the White Horse road and adjoining the wire rope works of Mr. Roebling, on the premises formerly occupied by Messrs. Emerson & Silver, for the manufacture of swords, bayonets and edge tools.

The specialty of these works is the manufacture of circular saws with movable or independent teeth, the patent for which, together with the peculiar manner of affixing them to the plate was obtained by Mr. J. Emerson, a gentlemen well known in our community as possessing a vast amount of ingenuity and knowledge in the scientific arts, and to whom is entrusted responsible position of Superintendent of the establishment.

The works comprise some six to seven rooms, all on the ground floor. The plates used are of the best quality of imported steel, and are the production of Jessop & Sons of Sheffield, England. The plates manufactured in this country have not yet been wrought with such perfection as those made in England; neither are they made of a diameter sufficiently large to meet all demands.

The steel disc, running from one eight to one-quarter of an inch in diameter if first taken to the cutting room, where massive machine makes an incision at regular intervals in the plate, for the insertion of the teeth. By changing the dies the teeth are also stamped out by the same machine, its power being something immense.

A piece of iron nearly an inch thick was shown us which the ponderous lever had cur through with as much ease as we might clip a piece of cardboard with ordinary scissors.

The next process is the beveling of the edges of that part of the plate where the incision has been made for the teeth, so as to fit the corresponding groove in the back of the tooth. This is done by ingeniously contrived machinery, and requires much nicety and attention by the workman.

The cutting of the groove in the convex part of the teeth is also performed by similar machinery in the same room, after which the teeth are finished of on the grindstone.

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