Like many other tools, saws can be both functional and ornate. Below is an English Garden Saw dated 1858. Everything about it is a bit over the top including a swan-shaped piercing in the toe, a gilt brass stiffener on the back, and a carved ivory handle with the fish and cornucopia theme.
A contemporary version of the swan piercing appeared a few years ago in the half-back saw made by noted infill plane maker Wayne Anderson.
When I saw Wayne’s work, I go thinking about having a half-back saw with a decorative design in the toe. I played around with a few ideas and came up with a beaver design which was fun and caused a few laughs. It’s hardly original, but not surprising considering my interest in Canadian hand tools and the beaver motif. I considered having one made, but eventually went another direction. But who knows? Maybe someday I’ll have my very own beaver half-back.
One of the results of this process was a unique and stylish half-back hand saw. I went back and forth with Andrew Lunn for quite a while on this and finally ended up with a beautiful saw that performs flawlessly. This has been my favorite hand tool for several years now. Note that the old-school split saw nuts, the medallion, and the etch are placed on the opposite side of where they would normally appear, reflecting my southpaw sensibilities.