The Filer in a Logging Camp

Before the days of dragsaws and chain saws the crosscut saw was used for the final cut in felling a tree and bucking (cutting into lengths) the fallen trunk. Keeping the crosscut saws sharp was the work of the Filer. Whilst the Filer’s job was very skilled and he was relatively well paid it is not a job you hear much about.

The filer.

The filer.

The Saw Filer often had building like a bunkhouse which provided him room to lay out the many saws he serviced. The space made it easy for the logger to locate his own saw that had been sharpened for him by the Filer. The Filer had a workbench where he sharpened the saws and adjusted the cutting edges. Each of the loggers had at least two saws, one in use while the other was being sharpened. At the end of each day the logger would leave the used saw with the Filer. In the morning he would pick up a sharpened one for that day’s use.

The Filer in his work room

The Filer in his work room

The loggers were expected to sharpen their own axes. Cross cut saws  were about 6 ft. in length with handles on both ends. These two man saws required coordinated pushing and pulling between the two men, thus each team had two saws with one being used till the noon break and the other the remainder of the day. These two men formed a team; once each man found a good partner, who had a good cutting stroke rhythm, they would continue to work together. Loggers (or Sawyers as they were also known) who had poor partners were not very productive and were always looking for a better partner, since they were paid by the board feet they cut.

Sometimes the Filer had a log inside so he could test his work. The saw hanging on the wall is a one-man crosscut saw used to trim timbers for bridges and trestles. It is sharpened just like the two man saws.

Filer's workbench made from a piece of a trestle

Filer’s workbench made from a piece of a trestle