While often seen as a folk instrument, the musical saw has another dimension as well. Classical oboist David Weiss (far right) has performed on the Stanley Handyman at the Hollywood Bowl and other prestigious venues.
courtesy David Weiss While often seen as a folk instrument, the musical saw has another dimension as well. Classical oboist David Weiss (far right) has performed on the Stanley Handyman at the Hollywood Bowl and other prestigious venues.

Full-size handsaws, once indispensable to the day-to-day business of cutting lumber to size, are seldom seen on modern jobsites. But they have another, equally traditional use that persists today: as musical instruments. A hundred years ago, saws were manufactured specifically for use in vaudeville musical acts. A few—such as the Bahco (formerly Sandvik) “Stradivarius” and the Mussehl & Westphal “Professional”—are still available.

But professional saw player David Weiss favors the familiar Stanley “Handyman,” finding that its thin-gauge steel produces excellent tone. Weiss should know what he’s talking about. A classically trained woodwind player who enjoyed a 20-year career as first oboe with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he has played saw on The Tonight Show, recorded a...

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