Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Simonds Crescent Saw Tools

Another recent Kijiji finds, this one came with the instruction sheet and the spider.

The Crescent No 340 crosscut tool set

Besides obviously the box that it came in, 
it is also missing the setting skate (in foreground)

The adjustable wedge is to set the height of the raker tooth
 showing, to be filed flat

The two screws on the sides are to hold the file, but also it is capable of slightly bending the file to accomodate the curvature of the breasted blade

My Simonds spider. 
You can see by the glare and rust still showing around the sharp area, 
that it was power cleaned by a wire brush.  So was the Saw jointer tool. 
Hopefully the critical lenght of the boss did not get muck with...too much

I wrote previously about these types of tools, here
The spider is used to check the set of the tooth, by placing it against the saw blade plate and resting the long end against the tip of the tooth.
Because there is a shorther and longer arm, when resting the lower part snug against the plate, the small gap at the end of the long arm is the clearance required. Rip cut and cross cut saws required a slightly different gap (set)

There was also adjustable spiders.
Top one is a Simonds

A No 342 complete set

A later Model No 342, complete set
Green boxes preceded the later red boxes
These 4 pics from Jon ZimmersTools

The No 342, slightly redesigned No 340, was available along with the No 340 for a short while, then the No 340 was dropped in favour of the No 342.
And not included, as part of this No 340 set of tools, would be a suitable saw wrest hammer, as illustrated in the instruction, to fine tuned the hammer set tooth, as required after inspecting with the spider.

The Simonds saw wrest hammer,
as depicted in instruction sheet

An early Disston saw hammer
Both pics from Jon Zimmers Tools 

A short history of Simonds

This set being made and sold in Canada, it even featured bilangual instructions.
Something rarely seen back in those days... Perhaps a nod to its majority French Canadian workers, being located in le quartier St-Henri,  traditionally poor part of town, majority French day workers at nearby factories.
To the north of it is Westmount, the richer Anglophone part of town, where most business owners lived.

Back in those days, Canada was not officially a bilingual country , they did not had to advertise nor print instructions in French...
Nonetheless, why not, it ensure penetration in the French market (Quebec), brilliant business savy...

French side
Still shows the 1899 patent date, so this was early 1900s.
They started in Canada in 1906, 
so guessing between 1906-1919 (20 years patent)
And since Vancouver branch is shown, opened in 1911, 
that narrows it down to 1911-1919

English side
The long rectangular rust imprint 
is from the missing Setting stake

Lets concentrate mostly on its Canadian operations 

For a more detailed story of Simonds, see WK Fine tools magazine
Or this one on Simonds the saw makers

Simonds started as a scythe maker in Fitchburg Mass 1832 and from there expanded into saw manufacture. In 1868 they incorporated as Simonds Manufacturing company. They were manufacturing machine knifes, sickles cutters for mowers and reapers, and planing machine knifes.
By 1878 they sold their sickles business and continued machine knifes production. They also started making circular saws and introduced a new product: Logging saws of various kinds. 

The Crescent saw tool set No 340 was patented in 1899

It these early days, there was no steel production in the US and the steel was imported from the UK, later some US tool makers would start producing steel. Disston being one of the early ones for their saws, for the same reasons: To control every steps of the process from raw steel to finished product in house.

They then started their own Crucible steel plant at the Chicago factory (which opened in 1892), starting operation on December 1900.
It was not until 1901 that they introduced handsaws, but they quickly established a reputation for the quality of their saws. They will cease manufacturing handsaws in 1926, after a short 25 years production run.

Simonds reputation for its handsaw, 
was largely due to the quality of its in house manufactured steel

Meanwhile in 1906 the Simonds Mfg. Co. established a manufacturing presence in Canada by buying the Canada Saw Co for $250,000, which itself was formed in 1904 with the merger of  The James Robertson Saw Co (founded in 1868) and the Ottawa Saw Co (founded in 1893). Canada Saw had 125 employees, all of whom were retained in the new company. 
Typical of the days, many other large US tool makers established manufacturing facilities in Canada to go around tariff restrictions and opened up the British commonwealth market

The new Canadian operation was renamed Simonds Canada Saw Co., headquartered in an all-new saw-making factory at the intersection of St. Remi and Acorn Streets in the South West of Montreal.

Corner of St-Remy and Acorn st. (bottom RH of red area) 
On top, the Canadian National (CN) railroad tracks from the Turcot yard.
Thru later expansion they would occupy the whole area depicted in red

What it looked like in 1907 and today...

Artist impression of the new factory.

1916, after the 1914 expansion.
Montreal plant is bottom LH
Notice they "recycled" the original drawing from 1907

Same building today
Corner of St-Remy (L) and Acorn (R)
These Simonds facilities were closed and sold in 1960

Further up on Acorn looking back at St-Remy

Same spot but looking the other way.
The building in the background has been refurbished 
and is used by la Mission Bon Accueil  
since 2000

The new company also acquired other facilities with the merger and keep operating factories in Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario as well as St. John, New Brunswick.

As we seen earlier, Simonds built its own steel mill in Chicago in 1900. The success of the steel mill, coupled with the company's success, was so great that demand quickly outgrew capacity.  So, in 1910, Simonds started construction on an all-new steel mill in Lockport, New York.  The new mill was placed equidistant from the Fitchburg, Montreal and Chicago factories and was able to take advantage of the new, cheap electricity being generated at Niagara Falls. The first steel from this mill was rolled on January 2, 1911. The Lockport steel mill played an important role in Simonds history until it was sold in 1978.

The business proved quite successful, growing steadily over the years. The Montreal plant underwent many expansions, including major expansions in 1907 and 1914. Another major expansion occurred in 1948, when the factory added hacksaw blades and bandsaw blades to circular saws, wide bands and cross-cut saws it had made up to this point.

Along the way the also acquired grinding stone and files manufactures companies, which are used a lot in the making of saws.

In 1911 they openned a Branch office in Vancouver BC Canada

Simonds Canada started construction on a new 112,000 square foot one story, controlled conditions plant in late 1959. But unlike the famous Fitchburg plant, the new plant did have some windows. The new plant was constructed at a cost of $1,500,000, and was located in suburban Granby, Quebec, about an hour east of Montreal.  

Simonds Canada closed the outdated Montreal facility and moved to this new Granby facility in June of 1960, transferring 200 employees and their families to the Granby area. The total cost of this move was $300,000. The old Montreal facility was sold off in November 1960. The Granby plant produced the majority of Simonds products sold in Canada until it was closed in 1988 and production consolidated into the Fitchburg Mass facility.

Today the Simonds company still exist. and the Canadian operation are still headquartered in Granby Qc.

Bob, looking for a matching setting stake... :-)


  1. Glad you included the last photo - I've wondered about the correct pronunciation.

  2. Ha ha Matt, you were not alone.... That’s why Simonds came up with this Uncle Si in their literature for years. Start during the time they were making handsaws, I think?

    Bob, with Rudy on the couch and my IPad :-)

  3. Thanks for an interesting post Bob. Fascinating stuff!

    Thanks also for your post a while back about organizing resources for the school cafeteria. That is a great example of what a can do attitude can accomplish... Especially for a good cause!

  4. Thank you John
    It is all in a retiree day of.. work :-)
    I needed to keep myself busy after my late wife passed away, I have succeded beyond my expectations :-)
    And BTW since we are approacching Christmas, Food banks could uses donations. Prefereably money, they have a bigger purchasing power and can stretch small donations better than a few donated cans of food. Food for thought :-)

    Bob, the Rotarian International

  5. Bob,

    As always you are having way too much fun working at being retired. I may join you in a couple of years if MsBubba has her way.

    Thanks for the research,

    ken, Sam's pull toy and Maggie's throwing machine.

  6. Listen to MsBubba, she is right... Life is way too short to waste it working :-)

    Just think, you could becomes Sam and Maggie's Boy toy... hum did I got that right?? :-)

    Bob, provider of Rudy's Amusements since Nov 2015

  7. Interesting read! So much industrial activity in the hand saw sector before power tools took hold. I went to the Simonds web site and you can order coffee mugs and other stuff with their SI-monds logo.