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181309 "Tom Opfell" <topfell@a...> 2008‑07‑13 A Letter To All Nib Nuts
Dear Nib Nuts,

Having been a saw collector for many years, I can honestly say, that the 
most frequently asked question is "what was the purpose of the nib?". Having 
been a Disstonite myself, I often quoted from the Disston publication 
"Handbook for Lumbermen", telling them that the nib had no purpose and 
served only as decoration to break up the straight line of the back.

It may be strange but no one has ever, on their own (people not having read 
the "Handbook for Lumbermen") ever proposed that it could have only been 
decorative. Most average people look at it and wonder what purpose it 
served.

When I first entered this latest fray on the "nib", it was because a number 
of people had posted comments on the purpose of the "nib" (testing temper, 
alignment of the saw in machinery, telling the maker which side to cut the 
teeth on, etc., all of which are clearly falsehoods, as proven by the well 
documented history of the process of saw making over the last 200 years.

Over the years there have also been a number of people who have proposed 
purposes that different Carpenters might have used the nib for, and by 
implication, offered these as ideas as to why the "nib" was there in the 
first place. To this I have to say: Although a certain carpenter in 1820 may 
have preferred to use the nib on his saw to scratch his ass with, this does 
not imply the reason that the maker of that saw put it there in the first 
place.

As this discussion has progressed, it seems like all the ass scratching 
theories have dropped from the fray, and what we are left with is a small 
(but powerful) contingent of Disstonites who strongly believe in the holy 
grail of the "Handbook For Lumberman". These Disstonites seem to be of the 
belief that the history of saw making began in 1840, and if the copy writer 
of the "Handbook", who was hired by William Disston, and coached by his 
office staff, said it was so, in 1904, then indeed, this is all the 
documentary evidence that they need to declare, that the nib was forever a 
decorative ornamentation, throughout the history of time, and could never 
have served a useful purpose, or at least not one that they will agree with.

Some of these Disstonites have made snide comments, such as, what is the 
function, of the scroll work on my Davis level (manufactured in the 1880's) 
for, or what is the purpose of this tiny little loop on the top of my 
handsaw handle for. Others have written very authoritative sounding 
statements, saying that even without written documentation, if there ever 
was an original purpose of the "nib", it would have been passed down from 
Master to Apprentice over periods of many hundreds, if not thousands of 
years. This of course is to imply that the gospel written in the "Handbook" 
is valid throughout the history of mankind. Well, I'm sorry, but billions of 
"secrets of the past" have been lost forever over time. The origin of the 
"nib" is one of them.

Others have posted pictures of the Queen's tea service (or whatever), tools 
that were of the presentation type (not those in use by the common laborer) 
from the 17th Century, saying in effect, see, I told you so, these artifacts 
have decoration on them, which by default proves that the nib was forever 
only a decoration. To this I have to say: What!!! Are you nuts!!!

Now look, I, as much as the next guy, sincerely believe that Henry Disston 
was one of the greatest Americans that ever lived. However, I have not built 
a pedestal for my copy of the "Handbook for Lumbermen", nor do I bow down to 
it on Sundays.

One astute member stated that he recalled seeing a pictorial representation 
of an Egyptian saw with a strange looking projection near the toe, and 
offered some assumption as to it's non-usefulness, such as, Da- it sure 
looks like a decoration to me. I also recall seeing a similar representation 
of a very early saw, and I would postulate that if such a picture does turn 
up, that the projection was probably there for some reason, other than being 
purely decorative.

The copper and bronze saws of that time would not have been very stiff and 
the projection may have been something like a thumb loop, in order for the 
operator to use his other hand to provide tension to the blade, there by 
stiffening it and reducing vibration, allowing it to move more freely in the 
kerf, and providing better two handed control in guiding the direction of 
the blade. A large hole in the end of the blade could have also been used 
for the same purpose and certainly a very large "nib" could have also been 
used for the same purpose, if grasped between the thumb and forefinger, 
although it would not have been as effective as a thumb loop or a hole. Now, 
please don't go jumping all over me on the speculative nature of these 
statements. I freely admit that I just made all this crap up a few minutes 
ago.

When one dwells in the history of antique tools, reading patents, studying 
ancient woodcuts, etc., it becomes quite obvious that most changes and 
improvements have something to do with the usability of the tool. The nibbed 
saws that began to proliferate in 16th Century could have been vestal 
reminders of an earlier time or the makers may have had a new found purpose. 
We will never really know for sure. However, to make the statement the saw 
nib was always a purely decorative element and never had a useful purpose, 
shows a lack of imagination, and is indicative of a very narrow mind.

Tom Opfell

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181319 Paul R Morin <cantos@s...> 2008‑07‑13 Re: A Letter To All Nib Nuts
Tony, Surely you're not including Alf or any other female list members
in thatcomment? I for one find Alf's logic to be sound.... (For one, I
beleiveshe stayed away from this thread completely).

Gentlemen - While I enjoy my time on the porch and the time spentreading
posts here - I'll be filtering anything with the word "nib" out.Having
put my foot in my mouth unintentionally by using poor wordingthat came
across as insulting rather than tongue in cheek, when I seefinger
pointing and comments like 'snide' I now just drop out ofcirculation -
even though I know there is no malicious intent.

The nib was obviously something added as a government requirement,
withthe intentions of sowing dissension amongst brothers and like
mindedbrethren to keep them busy while they increased taxes unnoticed.

Paul.

Anthony Seo wrote:
> At 07:08 PM 7/13/2008, P J McBride wrote:
>> Snide??? NUTS???
>>
>> I'm sick of you and this stupid thread!
>
> Yes, this one has gotten particularly banal.
>
> And about as productive as a discussion of female logic......
>
> Tony
>
>
>
> Olde River Hard Goods http://www.oldetoolshop.com TSMusic
> http://www.myspace.com/tonyseomusic
>
>

--
Because she was dead, and I'd let her go. Because now, she was immortal,
and I'd helped her get that way. And because I knew she'd phone me, in
the morning.
                           =85 William Gibson, Burning Chrome
 Paul R Morin Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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181316 Anthony Seo <tonyseo@p...> 2008‑07‑13 RE: A Letter To All Nib Nuts
At 07:08 PM 7/13/2008, P J McBride wrote:
>Snide??? NUTS???
>
>I'm sick of you and this stupid thread!

Yes, this one has gotten particularly banal.

And about as productive as a discussion of female logic......

Tony

                         Olde River Hard Goods
                     http://www.oldetoolshop.com
                                           TSMusic
                http://www.myspace.com/tonyseomusic

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181314 "P J McBride" <pjmcbride@o...> 2008‑07‑14 RE: A Letter To All Nib Nuts
Snide??? NUTS???

I'm sick of you and this stupid thread!
anyone wants to talk to me?...I'll be away for a while, 'till this goes
away....

Peter,
In Melbourne, AU... who has made and decorated things for 40 years, and
worships at the alter of decoration. Those who know me, they understand
that.

-----Original Message-----
From: oldtools-bounces@r...
[mailto:oldtools-bounces@r...]On Behalf Of Tom Opfell
Sent: Monday, 14 July 2008 7:05 AM
To: oldtools@r...
Subject: [OldTools] A Letter To All Nib Nuts

Some of these Disstonites have made snide comments, such as, what is the
function, of the scroll work on my Davis level (manufactured in the 1880's)

Others have posted pictures of the Queen's tea service (or whatever), tools
that were of the presentation type (not those in use by the common laborer)
from the 17th Century, saying in effect, see, I told you so, these
artifacts
have decoration on them, which by default proves that the nib was forever
only a decoration. To this I have to say: What!!! Are you nuts!!!

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