Chris Schwarz's Blog

The Saw Painters’ Mother Ship

Attention woodworkers in and around the Great Falls, Montana, area: Have you noticed a curious lack of vintage handsaws in your flea markets and antique malls?

Well there’s a reason that greater Great Falls is the black hole of vintage saws. The saw painters have made a 22’-high mechanical shrine to the craft using 208 handsaws – it was just dedicated at the Marias Museum in Shelby, Montana.

As much as it pains me as a woodworker to see 208 saws painted and rotating and telling the time, I have to admit, it is an impressive mechanical display.

“Standing 22-feet high, the saw clock is comprised of eight large discs of hand saws that alternate between 4 feet and 6 feet in diameter. Each saw blade — and there are 208 of them in total — has been designed, painted or otherwise decorated to represent a family or business from the Shelby area. Each disc is motorized and designed to independently spin while the entire wheel of discs slowly rotates around the saw clock’s center.”

You can read the entire store here on the web site of the Great Falls Tribune.

I’m just relieved that I cannot enlarge the photo of the clock, otherwise I would spend a good deal of time looking for a panther saw among the tools.

Thanks to Mark Poulsen for the tip!

– Christopher Schwarz

11 thoughts on “The Saw Painters’ Mother Ship

  1. taddwilson1


    Priceless. My parents live in and operate a motel in Shelby, MT. I would not doubt that one of the saws bears the name of their motel, The Sherlock (an amalgamation of the names of my grandfather and grandmother), which is not a bad place to stay in Shelby, although there is no Four Seasons in Shelby. I am going to have to ask them about it.


  2. MarkSchreiber

    I remember about 25 years ago, when I began to seriously collect antique tools, that one dealer was holding out for a higher price for decorators. Seems that interior decorators were paying top dollar for anything that looked old that they could drill a hole in and hang on a wall. Over the years, I have grieved over tools that had holes drilled in them, ugly paint jobs, or lousy with varnish. I hope these folks in Montana were using cheap saws from the Dollar Store.

  3. Gene

    Found some more photos here (

    And after some creative clicking, got the BIG versions:

    Some of the pictures are pretty blurry, but no panthers seem to have died during the creation of this art.

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