This is part three of a series written by Jon Melick in Quincy MA who is an Eagle Scout, Vigil in the Order of Arrow, and Assistant Scoutmater with Troop 20. I would like to personally thank him for allowing us to republish his "Wood Tools" document.
“Leave ‘em Home/Limited Use”
Here, I group these classifications together because there is little distinction between them. Carpentry saws are obvious “leave ‘em home” candidates; but while I am willing to acknowledge that there is some usefulness for two-man saws, or saws with wooden frames and turnbuckles to keep the blade tight, these saws require not only periodic resharpening, but also periodic resetting of the teeth. To envision this: put your fingertips together, and then slightly slide your fingers through each other. The pattern of your fingertips now resembles the pattern of a good saw; but over time the teeth tend to flatten out into the pattern of your fingertips before you moved them. This makes the saw much less inefficient, and this more dangerous. I own a few of these saws, but I rarely use them because there is a much better, much more efficient and much less laborious alternative available.
A “bow saw”, whether or not the blade is folding or collapsible, is perfect for most camp use because the blades are meant to be used once and then discarded. This means that no Scout unit should go camping without extra saw blades; and it also means that you should change the blade immediately once it stops cutting efficiently. Pruning saws can also be useful, especially when backpacking; but since their blades cannot be sharpened they should, as a rule, be only your backup saw.
Most hardware stores will carry both kinds of saws. As for finding secondhand saws, I would reverse the rule I set out for knives and axes, and warn against buying these saws secondhand unless you perhaps find a bow saw in good shape –and then you will want to buy some extra saw blades before you try to use it.
This concludes the three part series on knives, axes and saws. Tell us what your unit does, what you think of Jon's ideas, etc on facebook.