Jefferson Kolle

I spent the first month of my carpentry career moving piles of building materials. During the second month, my boss showed me how to use a circular saw—a menacing, chromed 8-inch Porter-Cable sidewinder that was like holding onto a gyroscope once the blade got going. Two weeks into month two, the power went out when we were cutting rafters. I figured we’d go home early, but the boss walked me over to the back of his truck and opened his lidded toolbox (which, for some reason, he called the dog coffin).

Inside, under the half-width sliding tray, sat his quiver of handsaws, resting in kerfs cut in narrow boards attached across the bottom of the box. He pulled out the vintage saws one at a time—two had belonged to his grandfather—and pointed out the differences between them: a wide ripsaw, an 8-point and a 12-point crosscut saw, and a backsaw.

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