25 June 2019
25 June 2019,

Saws have come a long way baby. Early man discovered that he could use serrated surfaces to cut through hard surfaces. Archeologists found copper saws dating to the 31st century BC in Egyptian tombs. Of course, the first saws were powered by man. Then, man got smart. He figured out how to use machines to power the saw. Arms get tired. Machines don’t get tired. Now, man could cut larger and harder materials and he could do it with less effort. That’s because he figured out the circular saw blade and saw arbors to hold his new blade.

precision saw blades are held by precision saw arbors

Who Invented Circular Saws?

The first patent for a circular sawing machine went to Samuel Miller in 1777. Some claim the Dutch were using circular blades as much as 100 years prior to that. Might be true, but if they were, they didn’t bother to document it or patent it. Honors goes to the man with the first patent!

But men weren’t the only ones thinking about sawing with circles. A Shaker woman living in the US thought men using a two-man rip saw were just working too hard and too ineffectively. In 1810 Tabitha Babitt created a tin saw blade and attached it to the spindle of her spinning wheel. With the push of the foot pedal the blade would spin. Without realizing it, Tabitha also invented the saw arbor.

Spinning Wheels, Circular Saw Blades and God

The spinning wheel had been around for ages when Tabitha got her idea. The spinning wheel dates to about 1000 AD and was invented in China. It consists of a drive wheel, table, treadle and legs. The drive wheel is what caught Tabitha’s attention. By attaching a rudimentary blade, she realized the spinning motion of the drive wheel would cause the blade to cut continuously. This was a major improvement over resetting the blade for each cut. But it required a way to attach the blade to her spinning wheel. Without realizing it, she also created the concept for saw arbors.

But unlike Mr. Samuel Miller, Mrs. Tabitha Babbitt was a Shaker. Mr. Miller most likely believed in God. So did Mrs. Babbitt, but she also believed that God didn’t want her to profit from her ideas and inventions. So, she didn’t patent her spinning saw. But in 1878, W.R. & John Barnes Company patented a treadle powered saw mounted to a table. Like Tabitha’s spinning wheel turned saw, you pumped the treadle on the floor to make the saw on the table spin. One man could operate the saw and it was awesome. It was Tabitha’s spinning wheel circular saw, but much more refined.

In 1922, Raymond DeWalt attached that spinning saw blade to a radial arm. Now not only did you forgo resetting the blade, you also got control over the cutting depth and direction. Even Tabitha would have been impressed.

slitting saw arbors

Saw Arbors for Circular Blades

With all these circular blades being spun about on mechanized devices, there had to be a way to hold the blade in place. Enter saw arbors.

Saw arbors are the shaft or spindle that spins. This is the piece to which the blade must attach. Circular blades have a hole in the middle known as the arbor bore or arbor hole. This is how the power of the motor is transmitted to the blade.

The most common size is 5/8 inch for the arbor hole, although smaller and larger holes are found. Smaller arbor holes tend to be on smaller blades and larger holes for larger blades.

No matter the size of the blades, its imperative that the saw arbors you use fit the arbor holes tightly. it’s dangerous to mount a blade if the arbor isn’t a good fit. As the spindle and arbor spins the blade, you want maximum concentric motion to avoid runout.

Runout isn’t a worry when you use Sierra American Multi-Systems saw arbors. They absorb vibrations and get your cutter close to the work.

Ask for Sierra American wherever you buy CNC tools. And ask them if they know Tabitha Babbitt.

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