I swore a blood oath I would never write about the “nib” on a saw , the ornamental protrusion found at the toe of some old saws. And I won’t break that oath.
I will, however, attempt to amuse you with some scribbling about a saw’s “nipple.”
Now I’m not just using the word “nipple” to see what amusing advertisements Google will place around this blog entry. No, I would never use the word “nipple” that lightly. Instead, I will delve deeply into history and quote a 1933 children’s book that discusses “the little nipple that we see on top of our saws.”
Thomas Hibben gets into nipples in “The Carpenter’s Tool Chest” when he discusses Japanese tools in his chapter on tools of the Renaissance (page 202, for those who want to follow along). Tools in Japan, he explains, are used on the pull stroke instead of the push.
It may well be that the little nipple that we see on top of our saws has survived from the days when saws were pulled. Such a mark would serve to catch the carpenter’s eye as he pulled back on the saw so that he stopped his pull before the blade came out of the cut.
In short, stop your stroke when you see the nipple.
All puerile prose aside, I am charmed by this suggestion. Could the nib , I mean nipple , have been a visual cue to cease your return stroke and then engage the teeth of a Western saw in your cut? Dang, the little thing is in the right place to do just that. It could just be the greatest hair-brained explanation for the thing that I’ve heard.
Come morning, I’m going to make some cuts with my nippled saws and see if keeping a sharp eye out for the nipple really works.
– Christopher Schwarz, who is certain he will be hearing from the Human Resources department any minute now.
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