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TM reader Ben Marvin turned us on to this, um, unusual, idea found on the web: a hand saw with springs mounted on either end so it recoils back and forth, created by software developer John Zimmerman. As you can see from the pictures above, it’s a work in progress.

It seems to me that you’re producing the energy whether you put it directly into the saw or store it up in springs to release it. The only advantage I can see is that you get a slight burst of stored energy released from the spring. But that sounds to me like a solution to a problem I don’t have. If I need power, I generally reach for a larger saw — or a power tool.

What does make these small saws so handy is the fact that you can control them very accurately and stop when things go wrong — though you’d have a hell of a time making anything but straight cuts. Forget miter boxes, yeah?

So what’s your take? Gem or junk?

Recoil Saw Bounces Through Intended Target [Uubergizmo]


15 Responses to The Recoil Saw

  1. rg says:

    Heh. Maybe he should stick to software development? If someone has been taught the proper way to handle different saws (most haven’t, from what I’ve seen), you don’t need any gimmicks.

  2. Ethan says:

    It’s more like it helps you with the change of momentum from one direction to the other. That being said it still looks hokey at best.

  3. Doug says:

    That “slight burst of stored energy” is energy that otherwise could have been applied to the CUTTING PROCESS. i.e. you spend the last few inches of every pull/cut stroke wasting energy to make the return/no-cut stroke “easier.”


  4. The biggest problem I see with this is if your edges aren’t square or you’re making a cut at an angle, the spring is going to twist the saw and at best bind the saw in the kerf or at worst change the angle of the cut.

    If you’re looking to make sawing more efficient, choose the best saw and blade for the job. For example choose a rip saw when you are cutting along the grain rather than using a combination saw.

  5. Jerry says:

    Maybe software development is slow right now. Whatever, I think the guy better stick to something he knows something about.
    Yes, it’s simple enough to see why he had the idea – probably had to cut a board and had a tough time getting the smooth movement flowing.
    I have a small toolbox handsaw that goes through most wood very easily – even hardwoods. Of course, buy a quality saw to start out and then keep it clean and sharp.
    This thing looks vaguely like some Rube Goldberg machine.

  6. jeff_williams says:

    Re: Sticking to Software…
    I’m not sure I’d want this guy on my development team. Unnecessary complexities have no place in software just as they have no place in tools.

  7. Mike47 says:

    He’d better hold onto his day job.

  8. jesse says:

    The British company Boa, famous for its strap wrench, has something along those lines: http://www.garrettwade.com/moving-frame-10-in-hacksaw/p/62K16.05/

  9. Trey says:

    Why so much hating? The guy had an idea and is checking to see if it works.
    I understand that there are a lot of failed ideas before you come up with something brilliant.

  10. ttamnoswad says:

    The real solution for those struggling to cut material smoothly is to use a longer saw that allows a smooth back and forth stroke. Short jabby motion is better utilized by power tools like a recip saw.

    But I like this guys effort to solve “problems”. The current lack of questioning thinking is alarming. I’m furious with the prevalent attitude of “thats how it’s always done / been that way”.

    That being said…..there’s no need to try to “re-invent the wheel” for everything.

  11. fred says:

    I was taught hand sawing by one of my mother’s uncles who was a journeyman carpenter starting around the time of World War I. I still have an Atkins crosscut saw and a Disston rip saw that he gave me. Neither one would be condidered “toolbox” saws by today’s standards – but old carpenters carried longer toolboxes (either made themselves) or ones like the old Kennedy hip roof carpenters’ box that you slung from a stap. The boxes were fitted to hold and protect a long hand saw – and length of the saw does have something to do with a smooth stroke – but not every hand saw needs to be 27 inches long or more – it depends on the task. I was taught to guide the saw with your hand grip – pointing a finger so to speak – and to “always let the saw do the work” If you had to push – the saw needed to be sharpened.

    If you want to look at modern western-style (push stroke) saws, I’d recommend starting with Wenzloff & Sons


  12. Ben Marvin says:

    Not quite sure why he’s cutting wood with a hacksaw, but the guy posted some videos of the saw in action here: http://www.youtube.com/user/johnzjohnz369

  13. @Ben Marvin:

    Thanks for the video links.

    I seriously doubt the addition of the springs decreased the cutting time. As far as I can tell he’s using longer strokes with the recoil saw than with the “normal” hacksaw, which would account for the decreased cutting time.

    I have to hope that he’s using a hacksaw to cut wood just as a demonstration. The back saw that probably came with the miter box would be a much better choice.

  14. Toolhearty says:

    Programmers are sooo cute. 🙂

  15. Robert says:

    Some people need to stay in their environment.

    Can’t blame them for getting creative, a sharp mind needs honing, even if it is sometimes painful.

    Case in point: I used to do software for a specialty plastics molder and mold maker. A guy comes in with 2 of the dumbest, obviously solving a problem that doesn’t need solving ideas ever. Patented in one case.

    My then 5 year old looked at the 3D cad drawing of one of them and proclaimed that it wouldn’t work. Everyone in the room was shocked at the simplicity and correctness of his evalaution.

    None the less, mold were made and parts run.

    Same guy behind that had a bunch of patents dealing with preservation of organs for transport to transplantation.

    Smart guy, out of his element. It happens to all of us if we push ourselves.

    Not necessarily a bad thing.

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