Document 53: The Manufacturer and Builder - May 1881, page 100 Improved Scroll Saws and Lathes

Overview: Patented in 1865, the first foot-powered Fret Saw quickly became popular. The foot-powered Fret Saw (also called a Scroll Saw or Jigsaw) used the same drive mechanism as the sewing machine, a flywheel driven by a treadle.

The setup could also drive a Lathe, a small Circular Saw, and, most importantly, a Drill Press.

(To start the dozens of interior cuts necessary in Fret Saw projects, a drill bit makes the holes, where the blade of the fret saw is inserted.)

For the period, teh statistics of numbers sold are astonishing: One contemporary source claims that, between 1865 and 1877, over thirty thousand foot-powered fret saws sold. By 1877, 1d another that in the four years after 1874, fourteen thousand treadle saws were sold, about half with iron frames and half made from wood.

Sources: Henry T. Williams, Fret Sawing for Pleasure and Profit New York: Henry T. Williams, 1877, page 107; "Fleetwood Scroll Saw," Arthur's Home Magazine r7 (October 1874): n.p. [advertisements]; "Fleetwood Scroll Saw," Godey's Lady's Magazine 97 (1875), n.p. [advertisements].

    ... [W]ere it not for the jig-saw (or is it the fret-saw?), Long Branch would be wholly without a Long Branch grace. This simple instrument has furnished the frequenters of these barren sands with nearly the only art emotions that they have felt while here; and, were the products of its labors suddenly broken off and unglued, and so destroyed, the eyes of the form-worshipers would have no place whereon to rest their weary gaze. Every balcony fairly drips with wooden lace work, and all the eaves are alive with softpine waves and ripples. The pillars of the piazzas are adorned with knobs and twists, and there are few ridge-poles that do not terminate in flourishing spirals that point to heaven.

    Source: Old Tool Heaven Website

    Webster, A. F. "American Summer Resorts-Long Branch, Part VII", Appletons' journal: a magazine of general literature. Volume 12, No 289, October 3, 1874, pages 430-434

By the end of the 1870s, an iron Fret Saw -- with lathe and drill attachments -- sold for 8.00; later,in the mid-1880s, full-size iron-frame saws sold in a price range from $3.50 to $22.50. At the lower end, the cost of a treadle saw was surprisingly close to the $1.50 price of a handheld spring-steel saw frame. Sources: "Improved Scroll Saws and Lathes", Manufacturer and Builder Volume 13, no 5 May, 1881, page 100; Bowman's and Russell's Famous Scroll Saw, 28; Moody, Catalogue and Price List, 5; Julius Wilcox, "Fret Sawing and Wood Carving" Harper's New Monthly Magazine Volume 54 (March 1878): 533; Charles Reichman, "Tools That Fueled the Fret Work Frenzy", The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association Volume 41 March 1988 pages 1-2

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Improved Scroll Saws and Lathes

The Manufacturer and Builder May 1881, page 100 Improved Scroll Saws and Lathes

Since the first introduction of the art of scroll or fret sawing into this country from Switzerland, some years ago, it has grown into great popularity. It is now very widely known and practiced not only as a fascinating recreation for those of mechanical and ar­tistic taste, but as a useful and profitable occupation. As an outcome of the popularity which this very attractive art speedily obtained, the earlier scroll saws have been very materially improved.

The old clumsy wooden frame machine has made way for the neat and tasty iron frame, and the mechanical ingenuity of American makers has developed the simple scroll saw into the more useful combination of scroll saw and lathe. The capabilities of these machines in expert bands, and the exceeding beauty and novelty of the effects that can be produced with them, are facts well known to most of our readers. They afford an exhaustless fund of pleasant recreation and artistic gratifica­tion to the elders of the household, enabling them to decorate their homes with those articles combining beauty with utility with which we are all familiar; while they provide an admirable and fascinating means of gratifying and developing the mechanical tastes of the young. To those possessing at once mechanical talent and good taste, the scroll saw may afford, be­sides a pleasant occupation, the means of a livelihood.

We illustrate in the accompanying cuts two excellent machines of this class, manufactured by A. H. Shipman, of Rochester, N. Y., who has devoted himself for a number of years to this special branch of manu­facture. He has introduced many and important im­provements which have been added from time to time, and which have decidedly increased their utility.

The "Prize Holly" scroll saw

fret_saw_manufacturer-and-builder_1881aThe "Prize Holly" scroll saw -- illustrated in Fig. 1. -- is manufactured in several forms, all, however, similar in construction, to meet the requirements of the several classes of workers: -- the beginner, the more advanced scroll sawyer, and the expert. These several machines vary in price and in their capacity for executing work.

This machine is especially constructed so that it can be used for a practical lathe, a feature that materially adds to its utility. The saw attachment can be removed from the lathe bed, by loosening a single screw which holds it in position, and the lathe attachments substituted in its place in a few seconds. Purchasers have the option of taking the saw only, or the lathe only if they are so disposed, or of taking both combined. The machine, while it is excellently adapted to the requirements of young beginners, b capable of turning out first-class work.

The following are the figures of dimensions and capacity for work: Height of machine, 30 inches; full width, 18 inches; diameter of balance wheel, 12 inches; weight, 7 pounds. The scroll saw will cut 14-inches thick and swing 20 inches in the clear; stroke, 11 inches; the very finest or coarsest blade can be used with it. The lathe will turn 10 inches ]ons and 4 inches in diameter. Small chucks for holding drills, etc., can be fitted to the spindle if desired. The lathe-heel ways are ground and polished, which gives a smooth and level surface for head and tail block to travel on. The tilting table for inlaid work on the scroll saw, is also ground and polished. The full weight of the machine is 30 pounds. These machines are sold, according to the number of accessory tools and designs accompanying thein, at prices varying from $3 to $6.50.

The "Prize Demas" scroll saw and lathe

The "Prize Demas" scroll saw and lathe,-- in Fig. 2 -- has the following dimensions and capacity: Height from floor to top of lathe bed, 271 inches; to centers, 30 inches; to top of saw table, 32 inches' length of lathe bed, 24-inches; it will turn a piece 16 inches long, and 5 inches in diameter; diameter of bal­mee wheel, 14 inches; weight, 11 pounds; stroke of :rank, 4 inches; size of lathe spindle, '/is inch; shortest, 4 inches long; long rest, 12 inches long. Stroke of scroll saw, 14 inches; it will cut 11/2 inches thick if necessary, but 1 inch practically, and swing 20 inches a the clear; it has a tilting-table, which is ground and polished, as are also the ways to lathe bed. Chucks 'or holding drills, etc., can be attached. Weight, 80 founds. The price of this machine will vary, accord-ng to character and number of accessories, from $6 to $49. It presents a very symmetrical and tasteful ap­pearance, and is very substantially constructed.

fret_saw_manufacturer-and-builder_1881b The utility of both of these machines for executing the most intricate patterns in fret sawing cannot be excelled. The manufacturer has fully appreciated the wants of amateur mechanics, and has prepared an excellent manual of instruction, with plenty of illustrations, relating to fret sawing and turning in wood; fret sawing in metals, shell, pearl and. ivory; a manual of the turning lathe; descriptions of tools for wood. carving, with instructions how to 'use them, and other matters of great interest and value to those desirous of turning their attention to this class of work. The illustrations and descriptive matter relating to fret sawing and turning will be found especially useful.

Source: The Manufacturer and Builder Improved Scroll Saws and Lathes

Volume 13, Issue 5 May 1881, page 100