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Title: The Evolution of Modern Band Saw Mills for Sawing Logs
Author: Prescott, D. Clint
Language: English
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  The Evolution of Modern
  Band Saw Mills for
  Sawing Logs





The history herein given and the facts stated are taken from authentic
records and also are the result of the personal experiences and
observations of the author. It is intended to show the efforts made by
the Saw Mill Machinery Builders of this country from about the year
1880 and thenceforward, to produce a Band Saw Mill that would render
acceptable service to large saw mill operators.

No attempt is made to display all of the productions of later days,
the main object being to show the transition logically from earlier
types to the splendid machines now built by THE PRESCOTT COMPANY of
Menominee, Mich., under whose auspices this work has been published and
is now presented to the Saw Mill world.

            By the author,
                D. CLINT PRESCOTT.

The Evolution of Modern Band Saw Mills for Sawing Logs

It is not the purpose to begin this narrative with a history of the
crude methods employed by our ancestors to obtain lumber for building
purposes; it is enough to know that they were able to obtain the
necessary material with which to provide homes for themselves, as well
as establishments in which to carry on business, to say nothing of
schools and houses of worship; and some lumber for these purposes they
certainly did have, and it was not cut by anything like a modern saw
mill, either.

It is sufficient to state that we have advanced from the early Hand
Whip Saw to machines in order about as follows: The Sash Saw, the Mulay
Saw, the Round or Live Gang, the Slabbing Gang and its partner the Flat
or Stock Gang; then the Circular or Rotary Mill, and lastly the Band
Saw Mill, and one generation of men, some of whom are now alive, has
seen all of these machines at regular work in saw mills sawing logs.

In passing it may be of interest to state that the old Sash Saw was
usually run by undershot water wheels, and a man would start a cut in
the morning and then, go to plowing out in his field. By noon, that cut
being finished, he would set over the log for another board, go home
to dinner, after which he would resume his plowing, and by evening the
second cut would be completed; so that by close attention to business a
man could get two boards a day.

A sawyer on one of these mills once told the writer that he could sit
on a log that was being sawed and go to sleep. When the log had moved
up far enough the saw would scratch him when it came down and he then
had plenty of time when the saw went up to wake up and get off the log
before the saw came down again. But since then times have changed and
we have progressed far away from the Stub Shot to the Circular Mill and
to the Band Mill for sawing logs, the Stock Gang being still in use in

The use of the Band Mill in place of Circulars and Gangs became very
desirable for two important reasons; one of them was that the saw kerf
of a band saw is so much less than that of a circular saw that the
saving in sawdust yielded a greater quantity of lumber from the logs,
thus accomplishing a clear saving of valuable material. The other
reason was that while Gangs made perfectly sawed lumber, they produced
a great deal of cullen stock from rough or unsound logs, for as the
saws are hung in the sash so must the lumber come out, and there is no
way of varying the thicknesses to accommodate the quality of the stock.
While a Band Mill will not cut so much lumber in a day as a Gang, it is
a machine with which a log can be sawed to the best advantage, and that
with a saw as thin as a gang saw. So that if the lumber coming from a
Gang and often rated as cull, could have been sawed into piece or thick
stuff, it would make it valuable and marketable.

This made the Band Mill attractive, and lumbermen began to take an
interest in it and to investigate the operations of those known to
exist. The result of their inspections, however, was far from being
satisfactory, because none of them were doing good work or anywhere
near enough of it, and with exceedingly few exceptions the mill men
rejected them and regarded them as an impracticable machine for sawing
logs, and few dealers would buy lumber that was cut with a band saw.

Mr. L. L. Hotchkiss who operated a mill in West Bay City, Mich., and
was very desirous of saving as much of his logs as he could, told the
writer that the men to whom he sold his lumber had refused to buy any
of it if he cut it with a Band Mill.

A prominent lumberman of Minneapolis also told the writer that he would
not take a Band Mill as a gift and be obliged to put it in and use
it. And that was the prevailing view among mill men of the northwest
generally in 1886.

Band Mills that would satisfy the lumber manufacturers of Indiana and
the valley of the Ohio where they were to be found, could never meet
the requirements of the men of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the
Mississippi Valley as far south as St. Louis.

Now what was the trouble? It was simply because a band saw if forced to
do a satisfactory day’s work, invariably would cut snakey or crooked
lumber; and even when sawing a small amount of lumber each end of a
board would have a crook, showing that the saw for some reason would
deflect from a true line when entering a log and also when leaving it,
while the cut through the center might be quite straight; but in all
cases the effort to push things so as to get a satisfactory day’s work
as demanded by the northern mill men, would result in bad snakey lumber
every time, and dealers did not want such lumber.

Previous to 1887 there was not a Band Mill in existence for sawing logs
that fully met the wishes of lumbermen engaged in large operations,
although quite a number of such machines were then at work with varying
success in mills owned by men who felt encouraged to try them.

The builders of saw mill machinery were then studiously endeavoring to
produce a Band Mill that would perform the full duty of making straight
lumber and plenty of it, and a number of them had already devoted
several years of hard work upon them. They appeared to know what the
trouble was, but were greatly at a loss to know precisely how to
correct it.

The story of the trouble briefly told is as follows: A band saw runs on
its wheels just the same as a belt runs on pulleys. The saw, just the
same as a belt, has a tight side and also a slack side. The tight side
is on the log side and the slack side is opposite on the back side; and
if for any reason the saw should slip on the lower or driving wheel,
then in that case the momentum of the upper wheel would carry the slack
over to the front or log side, and a snake or crook in the lumber would
be the result. This was generally understood to be the trouble and
various expedients, some of which were very amusing, were adopted (as
hereinafter shown) by machinery builders, only to be discarded later
as band mill construction developed.


Built by J. R. Hoffman & Co., Fort Wayne, Ind., and advertised in the

The first Band Mill to attract the attention of mill men was in
operation at Fort Wayne, Ind., in a saw mill operated by the Hoffman
Bros. They had used one for several years, and the writer visited
their mill in 1885. They were then buying large first clear logs up in
Michigan and sawing them into stuff for pigeon holes and other cabinet

The wheels were of wood five feet in diameter, with rubber faces and
iron spoke centers. Both wheels were alike. They used a saw five inches
wide, which they procured in France, claiming that no saw makers in
this country knew how to make a band saw, and they probably did not;
but their operations attracted so much attention that they commenced to
build and market Band Mills of the same character as the one in use by
themselves, and they did sell quite a number of them.

The iron work shown is mounted on a wooden post, and while this mill is
insignificant when compared to our modern mills, it nevertheless made a
serious impression upon the men who inspected it at work.

J. J. Kennedy of Rib Lake, Wis., had one of them, and was the first man
to employ a Prescott Steam Feed to operate its carriage, which he did
under the protest of Hoffman’s expert who did not believe it could be
used; but really it materially increased the cut of the little Hoffman

[Illustration: Second Band Saw Mill of J. R. Hoffman & Co.]

Subsequently the mill of J. R. Hoffman & Co. was enlarged to an all
iron Band Saw Mill. It was written up in the Nov. 28, 1885, issue of
the Northwestern Lumberman, and thenceforward they advertised until
they quit the business. An illustration of the mill is shown above.

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of Cordesman & Egan Co.]

In the Dec. 15, 1883, issue of the Southern Lumberman, Cordesman &
Egan Co., of Cincinnati, Ohio, enjoyed a write-up in connection with a
new Band Mill for sawing logs which they had devised and placed on the

It sold to some extent in the Ohio Valley, but never in the northwest.
The wheels had wooden rims with rubber faces and both were alike.

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of London, Berry & Orton]

Up to 1888, London, Berry & Orton of the Atlantic Works, Philadelphia,
were builders of log Band Mills and enjoyed quite an extensive trade,
and some of them found their way into the northwest. Their mill is here

The wheels were six feet in diameter with wood rims attached to a metal
rim inside of them; the faces were rubber and the saws were six inches

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of Sinker-Davis Company]

Next we have the celebrated Gold Dust Mill built by Sinker-Davis Co.
of Indianapolis, Ind. They were advertising this mill in the Southern
Lumberman as early as 1884 and were building band mills for some time
previous. Their improved mill of 1885 is here shown, wood rims with
rubber faces composed the wheels, and their market was the middle
sections of the country but never in the mills of the northwest.

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of Smith, Myers & Schnier]

A Log Band Mill was also built at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Smith, Myers &
Schnier, and this mill was advertised by them in the Mississippi Valley
Lumberman as late as Mar. 9, 1888. It is a crude looking affair with
wooden wheels built on iron flanges. They were builders of Band Mills,
however, for many years previous and were in competition for business
with those previously named.


Inspected by the writer at Cadillac, Mich. in 1885]

The operation of all these mills did not escape the careful attention
of the men who were builders of the machinery found in the great lumber
mills, realizing as they did that the right kind of a Band Mill for
sawing logs was yet to be created, and they went at it.

And to the Stearns Manufacturing Co. of Erie, Pa., must the credit be
given for the first vigorous measures taken to introduce the band saw
into the large mills of the country, and for their efforts to convince
lumbermen of their usefulness and value. To that end they built a mill
having wheels nine feet in diameter for saws eight inches wide. The
rims were of wood with rubber faces, and the spokes were of wrought
pipe. It was their belief that a band saw would be less liable to crack
if run on large wheels.

In combination with this mill they mounted on the same frame a large
circular arbor so that a lumberman could use either a Band or a
Circular should he so desire.

[Illustration: Mr. Wellington W. Cummer in 1887]

Mr. Wellington Cummer, of Cadillac, Mich., was the first to install one
of them in his mill; and no lumberman in this country has been more
ready to adopt improved methods than he. Mill men generally do not
wish to try machines they look upon as experimental in any respect, no
matter how good they may appear; usually they want somebody else to try
them first, overlooking the fact that an inventor must find some one
broad enough to permit their mill to be used, or one who is willing
perhaps to invest in a machine that apparently is a good thing. Mr.
Cummer was just the man for Mr. Stearns to apply to in the effort to
introduce his new Band Mill. And looking back the writer recalls with
so much pleasure the many delightful and helpful interviews had with
him. What a comfort it is to an inventor to find a man of his qualities
of mind and heart to whom he can go, knowing that he would surely be
interested in whatever he might have to say. Such men move things, and
Mr. Cummer did.

Other mills of the Stearns Company were put in at Pequaming and
Menominee, Mich., and also at Minneapolis, Minn. But these mills were
not a complete success. They did serve, however, to open wide the eyes
of the lumber world generally and set the pace for other machinery
builders to follow.

The Stearns Company finally abandoned this construction and adopted
a plan modeled on the Hoffman mill, which they advertised in the
Northwestern Lumberman, January 29, 1887. Their first mill, however,
was the better of the two.

The writer pauses here to pay a tribute to the memory of Mr. E. H.
Stearns who possessed the brains from which sprung the splendid
machinery built by the Stearns Company. To him more than to any other
man living or dead, are the lumbermen of this country indebted for the
mill equipments which brought the greatest success to them. He was the
first man to give grace and beauty of design as well as strength to saw
mill machinery. He was the first to produce carriages with accurately
setting head blocks with self-receding knees, in place of the old time
wooden head blocks with screw sets.

The eccentric setting blocks, and subsequently the double acting set
works, which we all now copy, came on the market through him. The big
circulars with reversed top saw models of construction, came from him.
Live Rollers and labor saving machines originated with him, as also did
the splendid Gang Edgers which we now have in place of the old single
saw edger with its traveling table. He designed and built the first of
the special heavy class machinery required in California now largely in
use in that state.

And yet, with all the splendid service he rendered the lumbermen of
this country, he was allowed to go down to his death with not enough
to pay his funeral expenses, and few to do him honor. The men with
whom he dealt are now mostly dead, but the living successors should
remember that to him they are largely indebted for the full measure of
prosperity they now enjoy.

[Illustration: Mr. E. H. Stearns in 1885]

[Illustration: BAND SAW MILL OF E. P. ALLIS & CO.

Described as the latest candidate in the NORTHWESTERN LUMBERMAN of
January 9, 1886]

In 1885 E. P. Allis & Co. of Milwaukee, Wis., actively began operations
with Band Mills for sawing logs. In principle their constructions were
similar to all the others heretofore named, but for nearly four years
they persistently adhered to a mill having at least one glaring defect,
namely, overhanging wheels; that is, there was no supporting boxes
outside of them. In 1889 they corrected this defect.

But the amusing feature in the mill of E. P. Allis & Co. is shown in
the effort to keep the slack slide of the saw on the back side of the
mill where it belongs, and thus prevent making snakey or dishy lumber.
The overhanging wheels, nine feet in diameter for eight-inch saws, are
shown. The top wheel was almost entirely of wood, and the spokes were
flat and wide, the object being to obtain an atmospheric resistance
continually as a pull back on the cutting side of the saw. A tightener
pulley was also applied to the saw on the rear side.

This sounded good and they sold a lot of mills on the strength of it;
but the wind that came from them would blow the sawyer out of the mill
unless the wheel was boxed in, and finally it happened that a saw came
off and the wheel did not meet with resistance enough to stop itself,
but kept on going, and that burst the bubble.

Attention is also directed to the fact that the combination of a
circular saw with a band saw, as in the Stearns’ mill, was adopted by
the Allis Company.

[Illustration: Second Band Saw Mill of E. P. Allis & Co.]

Improved Reliance Band Saw Mill of E. P. Allis & Co. Advertised in
the Southern Lumberman, January 1, 1889, as the “best on earth.” This
mill they continued to build until 1892. It shows metallic wheels and
supporting arms outside of them as in the Stearns mills.

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of Benjamin & Fischer]

Feby. 14, 1885, The Northwestern Lumberman caused a shiver to run
through the mechanical world by publishing an account of “A New Entry,”
and showing two illustrations of a Band Mill for sawing logs invented
by Mr. Benjamin of the firm of Benjamin & Fischer of Chicago, Ill. It
was extensively advertised, and really was an ingenious mill. It was
intended to correct the defects existing in other mills which had made
such crooked lumber, cracked saws, and performed all sorts of mischief,
which they really had, and there was no doubt about it.

Apart from the fact that the lower wheel was much larger in
diameter than the top wheel, the main distinguishing feature in the
Benjamin mill was the application of a ball centrifugal governor to
automatically adjust a tightener pulley impinging on the back side of
the saw to instantly take up and prevent a slack from going over to the
tight side and thereby making snakey, crooked lumber.

One of these mills was erected at Chicago. A car of logs was brought
there and many prominent mill men were invited to see the mill at
work. A large number attended; but the mill did not satisfy any of
them. There was just one thing Mr. Benjamin did not take into account,
namely, a governor cannot act until there is a perceptible increase or
diminution in the speed of an engine or a machine; consequently in a
band mill it got in its work too late to stop the mischief. The mill
never went into general service. Its wheels were of wood with rubber

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in 1886 Mr. Charles Esplin, of the Pray Manufacturing Co., of
Minneapolis, Minn., built a Band Mill upon an entirely new principle,
and one of them was operated that year by the Superior Lumber Co., of
Ashland, Wis. It was illustrated and advertised in 1887 as “the only
perfect Band Mill in use.” It transpired, however, that the analysis of
band saw troubles and their causes as published by Mr. Esplin was truly
perfect, but the Band Mill built by him to correct the troubles was
imperfect to the extreme, as will be seen; and the wonder is that he
did not see it himself, when clearly on the right track.

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of Charles Esplin]

To understand this construction it is proper to state that the attempt
is made to apply an exceedingly sensitive and automatic strain to the
band saw; a strain instantly responsive to any change in the run of the
saw, whether due to expansion or slippage; no matter what might happen
the strain would always be uniform, and perfect lumber with lots of it
would be the continual result.

The top wheel with its shaft was mounted in fixed boxes, adjustable
only in order to change saws. But the heavy lower wheel with its large
shaft and belt pulley was mounted in boxes integral with an iron rocker
or tightener frame to which was attached a long weighted lever like
an old fashioned safety valve lever; and the wheel thus equipped was
placed in the saw. Thus it will be seen that the weight of the wheel
with its shaft and the rocker frame, lever, weight and pulley, was
employed to strain that saw downward automatically; and it was designed
that this wheel acting through gravity should respond instantly to
changes which might occur to the saw, whereby all slack would be taken
up and a perfectly uniform tension be maintained.

This kind of talk was certainly catchy with lumbermen for it also
sounded good. There was, however, just one thing Mr. Esplin and others
overlooked, namely, if an adjustment is at all necessary to meet
changing conditions in a band saw running from 9,000 to 10,000 feet in
a minute, then that adjustment must of necessity take place almost like
a flash of lightning, and that automatically.

Mr. Esplin’s lower wheel, boxing, shaft, belt pulley, rocker frame,
lever and weight probably weighed four tons. Such a weight cannot move
like a flash, and goes too far when it does move, and broken saws or
snakey lumber were the logical result. The inertia of such a mass
prevents quick action.

This mill was a failure like the rest, and the designers of Band Saw
Mills for sawing logs were left groping in darkness. To be sure, Band
Mills to some extent were in use though largely under protest because
of the poor lumber they made, the small quantities produced, and the
troubles experienced with cracked and broken saws.

[Illustration: Cunningham Inclined Band Saw Mill]

It was in the same year, 1886, that The Filer & Stowell Co., of
Milwaukee, Wis., flattered themselves into believing that other
machinery builders did not really understand just how a Band Mill for
sawing logs should be built, and being perfectly cognizant of the
difficulties experienced and of the remedy to be applied, they designed
and brought out and advertised the Cunningham Inclined Mill, an
illustration of which is here shown.

For a unique organization this mill took the cake. The idea of it was
good, and it should have been a winner, but for some reason it was not.
They built and sold quite a number of them, and then later they changed
to a more sensible kind of a mill.

As will be observed, this mill inclined to the rear twenty or more
degrees, with the result that the saw would enter a log like a circular
saw, cutting under in a manner similar to the circular instead of
straight down across the grain as band saws usually do. It was
understood that a circular could do straight work and very much more
daily than was possible with a band saw. It was, therefore, quite
natural to suppose that if a band mill could be constructed so as to
operate substantially like a circular with equal advantages, then there
appeared no reason why it should not do as good work if not quite so
much. At all events it was expected that this mill would do more work
and better work than any of its predecessors. But it did not, and
proved to be quite a nuisance as it required about six men to place the
saw on its wheels every time they were changed; and the mill went out
of use.

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of Wilson & Hendrie]

In 1886 Wilson & Hendrie, of Montague, Mich., tried their hand at Band
Mill construction. Their mill as here shown is an enlarged copy of the
Hoffman mill, but having a cast frame of apparently large dimensions.
Locally this mill may have gone into use to some extent, but it found
no market among saw mills generally.

[Illustration: Band Saw Mill of The Wilkin Manufacturing Co.]

And then in 1888 The Wilkin Mfg. Co., of Milwaukee, Wis., advertised
and marketed a Band Mill designated as “the most common sense Band Mill
made.” It had overhanging wheels of wood with rubber faces.

In one respect this mill demonstrates how easy it is for one to imagine
a trouble and then spend a lot of money to correct a trouble that
really has no existence.

It was known, of course, that a band saw under stress would be inclined
to gravitate to the rear. In this mill the attempt is made to prevent
this and compel the saw to follow its proper path around the wheels by
raising or depressing the tail end of the top wheel shaft; and in order
to do this automatically a steel trolley was applied to the rear edge
of the saw, closely following it, whatever its position might be; but
any movement of the trolley towards the front or rear was followed by a
corresponding adjustment of the tail box of the top shaft. The effect
of the trolley on the edge of the saw was bad; and besides that there
really was no special need of any device of the kind.

In connection with this mill there are also three other interesting
features worthy of mention, as one of them in particular illustrates
the method then prevailing of preventing a log from rubbing or dragging
against the saw when the carriage was run back or being gigged for the
next cut. At the present time an off-setting mechanism is applied to
the carriage trucks, but previously a depressor, so-called, was applied
to all mills substantially as shown in the Wilkin mill and others
illustrated herein. That is to say, both the upper and lower saw guides
were movable transversely, and the off-bearer by means of a hand lever,
forced the guides back from the saw line, carrying the saw sideways
away from the log, and in this manner contact with the face of the log
was prevented; but it was hard on the saw.

In this mill, however, there is a new departure as shown by the
application of two small friction rolls or pulleys behind the saw, in
place of the usual saw guides; the idea being to force the saw out to
the saw line by means of the rolls, and then when the carriage was
gigged the rolls were moved back and the saw permitted to fall away
from the face of the log; this feature being an imitation of the same
thing embodied in the Allington mill previously built at Saginaw, but
not shown herein. This arrangement, however, proved to be severe on the
saws, because such short bends will crack them in a short time, and
besides this the rolls made such a roar in a mill that not much else
could be heard.

Next in this mill a spring was employed to maintain a sensitive
automatic strain on the saw; and this, like the other special features
of the mill, proved worthless, and the mill, like the Allington, went
out of use and is unknown to the art now.

Now in all the preceding it is shown that Saw Mill Machinery Builders
were studiously striving during all the years between 1880 and 1887,
and some of them to a much later date, to produce a Band Mill for
sawing logs that would do good work and as much of it as lumbermen
would be satisfied with, and that, too, without so much cracking and
breaking of saws. The simple fact that they were continually devising
new constructions with a statement each time that now they had struck
it, and the further fact that without an exception all of these were
entirely abandoned and fundamentally new machines brought out at a
later date, prove indubitably that all of their former efforts had
failed to meet the full requirements which lumbermen expected and

The question then naturally arises, how did it come about that
successful cutting band mills of a wholly different type are now
universally in use? Who is the man who originated the strictly modern
band mill that served as a pattern for all to follow? The following
will explain it:

Aug. 23 and Sept. 13, 1887, patents were issued to D. C. Prescott,
then of Marinette, Wis., for improvements in Band Saw Mills, and other
patents followed shortly thereafter on further improvements.

[Illustration: D. C. Prescott in 1887]

The creation of these mills was purely upon the principle previously
described by Mr. Esplin who so signally failed in its application.
Plainly it was evident that to secure a nervous, sensitive and constant
strain on a band saw, it was imperative to reduce the weight upon
the straining levers to the least possible quantity consistent with
strength, and to make all the pivotal points as near frictionless as
possible by the intervention of knife edges or ball bearings; and
while it was impossible to reduce the weight to a point so as to
accomplish an automatic adjustment as quick as a flash, it is a fact,
nevertheless, that in the Prescott mills of that date a strain was
automatically maintained sufficient to successfully accomplish the
work of sawing lumber accurately and in acceptable quantities. And
these were the mills that set the pace for all other builders and
revolutionized saw mill constructions.


Patented September 13, 1887; over 150 built and most of them are in
service at the present time, 1910]


Patented November 26, 1889, with set-off for increased space from saw
line to column. 8 foot wheels, 12 inch saws]

The light metallic top wheel with its shaft, runs in boxes mounted on
plungers, and from them stems lead down to the straining levers, and
all were made as light as possible. Characteristically about all band
mills now employ this system, and whether they have a single column or
a double column, the arrangement is substantially the same.

We often read of big day’s work performed by some make of band mill,
but it is proper to say that the day’s work performed in the saw mill
of the North Wisconsin Lumber Co. at Hayward, Wis., has never been
equaled. This was done by two of Prescott’s No. 3 mills, being the
second one illustrated, as follows:


            Hayward, Wis., Aug. 23, 1893.


    Dear Sir:—The North Wisconsin Lumber Company made the following
    cut: August 22, 1893, with two Prescott Band Mills only, 609
    selected logs, scaled full. Average 1.97 to 1,000 feet, 309,400

      Lumber scale, 1 inch,              45,236
                    1¼ and 2 inch,      294,077
                                        339,313 feet

    The cut of August 22nd shows what can be done with large logs,
    and the cutting was as perfectly done as any day’s cut we ever
    made. W. H. Elliott, Superintendent of Valley Lumber Co., Eau
    Claire, and A. L. Ulrich, of Rice Lake Lumber Co., will vouch
    for the cut of August 22nd, as well as Captain Rogers, our
    Superintendent, and myself.

            Yours truly,
              R. L. McCORMICK,
                  Secretary N. W. L. Co.

It is of interest to note the gain of about 30,000 feet by sawing the
logs with a Band Mill instead of a Circular Mill.

This record, widely published at the time, coupled with the fact that
nearly three hundred Prescott mills were then in successful service,
is evidence enough to show that all other Band Mills as herein shown
had become obsolete and were back numbers, and were abandoned for the
later constructions all are now familiar with.

But before any of them, or any of the others that have appeared on the
market since then, can boast of big cuts or a superior grade of mills,
it is up to them to show a better record than the one above given; a
record that will be vouched for by Mr. McCormick who is still alive.

[Illustration: R. L. McCormick in 1893]

There are also two of this same type of Band Mills now running
in the saw mill of the Fosburgh Lumber Co. at Norfolk, Va., and
notwithstanding they are nearly twenty years old, there are no Bands
on the Atlantic seaboard anywhere that equal them today, either in the
quality or extent of daily output.

The short, compact mill with the base above the overlays of the saw
floor, originated with Prescott. Wood rims with rubber faces on the
wheels were speedily abandoned by him, and wheels all of metal were
brought into use, so that a filer in rolling tension into the saw had
a clean wheel free from bunches of pitch and sawdust which stuck to
the rubber faces and produced unbalanced wheels; but then everybody
supposed that rubber faces were a necessity. Mr. Prescott demonstrated
that the mill was vastly better without them.

The late improvements made in frame constructions merely add stability
without increasing the quality or extent of the output, this being
entirely dependent upon a light weight of the top wheel with its
shaft and boxing in combination with a straining lever system made
as frictionless and sensitive as possible; for without these good
conditions no band mill will render duty of the highest grade.

Logically, then, the same principles and elements of construction have
been embodied in all the splendid Band Saw Mills now built by The
Prescott Company herein shown.


Of 1910, for sawing logs]

Of this type The Prescott Company builds the following sizes, both
right and left hand, single or double cutting:

  Diameter of wheels 7 feet for saws 10 inches wide.
     ”      ”   ”    8  ”    ”    ”  12 or 14 inches wide.
     ”      ”   ”    9  ”    ”    ”  12 to 16    ”    ”

Next is shown the Pacific type of the Prescott Band Saw Mills for
cutting large logs, having wheels 9 feet in diameter, and using saws
from 12 to 16 inches wide. They are built for double cutting as shown,
as well as for single cutting. Their dimensions are about as follows:

Base 9′ 7″ by 11′ 7″.

Maximum distance between guides 6′ 6″.

Distance from saw line to column 4′ 6″.

Maximum length of saw 53′ 6″.

Weight from 42,000 to 45,000 lbs.

When desired a steam cylinder is applied for operating the upper guide,
and a reversing engine for adjusting the top wheel when changing saws.

Their straining mechanism is exceedingly sensitive, their shafts are
large, their boxes 18 inches long and water cooled; so that in every
respect these mills are perfectly equipped, and a 20-inch double belt
is necessary to drive them.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the largest logs of the Pacific coast cut with a Band Saw Mill, The
Prescott Company advanced to a mill of the same type but having wheels
10 feet in diameter for saws up to 18 inches in width.

The base of this mill is 10′ 7″ by 14′ 6″.

Maximum distance between guides 7′ 3″.

Maximum length of saw 60′ 9″.

Distance from saw line to column 5′.

Weight from 54,000 to 58,000 lbs.

The shafts are large with 20″ water cooled boxes. Steam is applied to
operate the top guides and adjust the top shaft when desired. A 24-inch
double belt is necessary to drive it.



In every respect these mills are splendid creations and exhibit a vast
stride in advance of the earlier mills described herein.

All of these mills are provided with a surrounding base, a powered
upper guide, quick opening lower guide (as shown on page 45), live
roller, means for maintaining alignments and adjusting the upper wheel
when changing saws, the latter being done either by hand or power as
required; and the upper wheel in all of these mills when raised to the
maximum point admit of the use of a long saw for sawing occasional
large logs, a saw two feet shorter being in use normally for medium
sizes of logs which are mostly cut. And these mills in combination with
a Prescott carriage constitute an equipment absolutely unrivaled by any
other productions in the world.

Rack and pinion head blocks, every piece of which is an open hearth
steel casting, are furnished in sizes varying from 36 inches to 72
inches, being the distance the knees recede from the saw line; and
these with frames proportionate in dimensions and composed of well
seasoned southern pine timber, well ironed and braced, comprise great
strength and durability.

For mechanically exact setting, all racks, pinions, taper sets and
ratchet wheels are cut from solid blanks in a gear cutter. The knees
are operated either by hand lever and quadrant, the familiar way, or by
a Prescott Steam Setting Machine, which advances them for 4-inch lumber
or any thickness less, varying by 1-64th of an inch to every click of
a pawl on the ratchet wheel, and that too with a single rearward and
return stroke of the piston, so that great speed and accuracy are the
characteristics of this machine; and with it an increase of cut is
obtained by reason of the fact that the setter does not get tired, and
no sawyer will have to wait for him. And more, with them a mill man can
keep a good setter who otherwise might be on the hunt for an easier job.

These carriages are also supplied with Friction, Spring or Steam
Receders, which latter can be employed in all cases where Steam Sets
are used for which steam is delivered to the moving carriage. The value
of steam receders consists in the ability to advance or recede the
knees at any time whether the carriage is moving or at rest, and for
receding the knees of large blocks sawing short logs only.

[Illustration: Standard 3-Block Carriage with 4-inch combined steam and
ratchet set works]

A Revolving or Flat Scale always indicates the position of the knees.
Dogs hold the logs. An Automatic Offset gives a clearance of the saw
when on the gigg, and Steel Trucks and Steel Track necessarily go with
such a carriage, composed either of heavy T Rail, or the lighter rolled
track, according to the size and weight of the carriage.

For accuracy and speed these carriages have no equal, especially when
handled by a Prescott Direct-acting Steam Feed.


Both the knees and bases of these blocks are composed of solid open
hearth steel castings faced with heavy steel bars, presenting wide
surfaces for the knees which are grooved to fit them. The knees are
supplied with rolls, spud and extension hook dogs. The screws are
4-inch pitch and triple threaded. The gears are steel and cut in a gear
cutter and are actuated in setting by hand levers and quadrant or by
power in accordance with the wishes of a purchaser.

The Prescott Company furnishes these blocks in the following sizes,
viz.: 72-inch, 84-inch and 96-inch; being the distance the knees recede
from the saw line.

And in all other respects the equipment of the carriage is very heavy
and fully up to date in every respect.


These Guides are applied to all Log Band Saw Mills built by The
Prescott Company. When slivers, bark or sawdust wedge in the Guide and
cause trouble and heat the saw, then the Guide is promptly opened by
the off-bearer and the stuff falls through.

When changing saws the Guide can be promptly opened.


Made in 7-foot, 8-foot and 9-foot sizes]

The Prescott Vertical Band Resaw

This machine is built in three sizes, viz.:

  With wheels 7 feet in diameter for 10-inch saws.
   ”     ”    8  ”    ”   ”       ”  12   ”   ”
   ”     ”    9  ”    ”   ”       ”  12   ”   ”

It is distinctly a machine for resawing plank, cants or timber up to
16 inches in thickness. The mill proper is provided with a surrounding
base and is constructed upon the same principles as are all Prescott
Log Band Mills. The feed works being driven by the machine itself
makes the whole self-contained. The outside pressure rolls, are
adjusted by power; and the inside rolls are operated by hand levers
and notched quadrants, and regulate all thicknesses of lumber to 1-32
of an inch. And all of these rolls are power driven. All gearing is
steel, the upper guide is power operated, and the mill itself is made
self-centering when desired, although this feature is not specially
necessary in this machine.

No finer machine exists for resawing lumber and timber coming from a
log Band Mill or a Circular.

It is not adapted for resawing slabs.


Built by The Prescott Company, Menominee, Mich.]

Standard Prescott Horizontal Band Resaw Mill

For Resawing Slabs and Planks

The machine shown upon the opposite page has wheels 6 feet in diameter,
and admits upon the feed rollers a slab nearly 30 inches wide and about
12 inches high, so that half logs of considerable size may be sawed as
well as slabs.

Numerous feed rollers are employed instead of the endless platen or
apron, thus insuring efficiency and durability.

The feed rollers are mounted upon an independent frame which can be
withdrawn when necessary for purposes of repair. This is adjustable
vertically by means of a hand lever with quadrant for setting the
machine to saw lumber into the required thicknesses.

The base and frame are heavy and substantial, and the machinery is
located above where it is accessible and out of the way of the dirt
which may accumulate. A very sensitive saw straining mechanism is

The pressure sprockets are supplied with power for such material as may
require it, and is omitted, however, when it appears unnecessary. The
feed can be increased, diminished or reversed.

The machine is located upon beams on the line of the overlays,
requiring no special substructure to support it.

Other sizes are supplied for special uses and further information will
gladly be given by correspondence.

The Prescott Company

Manufacturers of

Strictly Modern Saw Mill Machinery of standard sizes for medium logs
and a heavy class for the large logs of the Pacific Coast or elsewhere

  Band Mills
    for logs and resawing purposes,

  Circular Mills,

    both Rack and Pinion and Screw Setting

  Steam Setting and Steam
    Receding Machines,

  Edgers—3 types

  Trimmers—3 types

  Log Stops and Loaders,


  Lath Mills,

  Live Rolls,


  Log Jackers,

  Steam Niggers,

  Log Turners,



  Rift Sawing Machines,

  Steam Jump and Swing Saws,

  Offsetts, etc., etc.

And a full line of Transmission Machinery all built for either Wood or
Steel Construction.



  _Chicago, Ill._
  _Seattle, Wash._
  _New York_

  _The Eby Machinery Co._
  _San Francisco_

[Illustration: Plant of The Prescott Company

Works and Main Office: Menominee, Michigan]

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Page 20: “slack slide” was printed that way.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Evolution of Modern Band Saw Mills for Sawing Logs" ***

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