The various versions of a hand saw were among the essential tools which had helped the European settlers wrestle this continent from its former inhabitants, and -- in place of a harmonious co-existence between Homo sapiens and the natural environment -- built a civilization very efficient at gradually destroying the bounty initially found here. Thus, along with the ax, the plow and, of course the gun, the hand saw could be viewed as a kind of former "accomplice in a crime".
With thoughts like these in mind, I was particularly delighted to have recently made an acquaintance with Bob Dustrude -- a passionate designer and maker of folding bucksaws.
He makes them "right here" in Minnesota, in a shop heated with local self-split wood and thereby defies the widely-manifested notion that we (the "developed" nations) can no longer afford to make many of the things that we use and must therefore outsource their production to the corners of the world where labour is cheap. Thus relative to the prevalent trend, Bob does embody the concept of "regional self-sufficiency". In addition, what he also is a living example of is the previous generations' work ethic at it's extreme. At 61 he was entitled to a pension, but could not grasp the logic of quitting work that young. When I asked him how old he was now he put it in an uncommonly positive way: "in ten and half years I will be hundred". Amazingly, his hands are still making tools for others to use! My concern is that this one-man production has no apprentice... and when questioned why, Bob's answer echoed many other old men I've talked to regarding this issue -- "You know, the young people today..."
We have used one of these saws here on the farm, while building log structures this past season, and can state that they are well-designed and well made. Of course, the chief reason for the folding designs is the ease of portability, and you do not need one if you stay put in place. But while on a move (for example during a wilderness adventure, or a permanent journey from a city to some more convivial place in the countryside) compactness is a blessing. In winter survival-like situations (while your hands may be nearly frozen) Bob's saws fold from traveling (photo 1) to working position (photo 2) in seconds without any need to screw around with nuts; hands clad in mittens are perfectly capable of the job.
The blades included with these saws are made in Portugal, and in line with what has become an international standard, they too are "point-hardened".
This prolongs the period of initial cutting efficiency but also makes the common files useless as tools for their further maintenance.
The USA- or Canada-made re-sharpen-able buck saw blades have been swept off the scene by Father Progress approximately 20 years ago. The modern versions (whether made in Sweden, Portugal, China, India, Mexico etc.) are now all "replaceable" -- meaning you should throw them away once they get too dull to meet your personal standards, and buy a new one. (There's no need to be that wasteful, however. We shall address this issue in the forthcoming section on "tool maintenance by the owner". In the meantime if any of you are aware of a company -- anywhere on this planet -- that still manufactures "re-sharpenable" blades please let us know.)
He makes the aluminium model also in 21", (and occasionally a few 30") plus has another version in 21" with a wooden frame (which we are presently testing and likely offer in the future.)
To order directly from Bob, send $50.00* (for the 24 inch bucksaw) -- check or money order -- with your mailing address to: