Saturday, September 26, 2009

Words for Wood Working

Names change. Used to be, a scroll saw was a hand tool, a bowsaw with a very deep bow to allow cuts far in from the edge of the wood. Now a days on the web, scroll saw seems to mean a stationary power tool, the one we used to call a jigsaw. As in the tool that made jigsaw puzzles. The jigsaw name has largely migrated over to the handheld power tool that has a short stiff reciprocating blade. Back then the portable tool was called a saber saw. And the big brother of the saber saw doesn't really have a universally agreed on name. Most folk still call that tool a Tigersaw or a Sawzall, which are the brand names of two of the leading makers of the tool. Some call them reciprocating saws but that name is just too cumbersome for everyday use.
Then consider the poor circular saw name. Again, way back, a circular saw was a stationary tool with a flat iron table up thru which a circular blade protruded. Now a days the stationary saw is called a table saw, and the circular saw name has moved over to the portable tool that I still call a skilsaw, the brand name of the first such tool. It's the portable tool that house carpenters use to quickly cut 2*4's to length on the job site.
Actually it would make more sense to use the circular saw name as a class name covering all saws with a rotating blade (table saws, radial arm saws, chop saws, sliding compound miter saws, and skilsaws), and find another name for the skilsaw. Or do the scotch tape thing and just keep calling them skilsaws.
While we are at it, changing names all around, find a new name for the radial arm saw. That name is so cumbersome that most folk use the acronym (RAS) when writing or speaking about the tool. Us woodworkers understand, but non wood workers find the acronym obscure.

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