Sash-saw (drawing: Bernt Kristiansen)
THE SASH SAWS IN TØRVIKBYGD
Down by the fjord on the farm Berge in Tørvikbygd, is Stekkavika – a sheltered eastward facing harbour, protected against the fjord by headlands and rocks, even manifest in the name. Here is also a comprehensive milieu of coastal industry, with boathouses and sea-sheds that belong to the farms Berge, Heradstveit and Halleråker. Belonging to the farm Berge there is also a mill-house, circular saw, workshop for sloop building, and – a little further up into the woods – the old water-powered sash-saw.
The sash-saw in Stekka is one of the few sash-saws left of the one-bladed type. The sawmill was built in 1823, but there have been sawmills in Tørvikbygd long before this time. In the tax register for 1603 these sawmills are mentioned: Drage sawmill, which has cut 150 boards and planks, and Augastad sawmill, which “is lying abandoned”. The Augastad sawmill was probably situated by the same waterfall as the present sawmill in Grindfossen, a 20 minutes’ walk up into the outlying fields from Augastad. After this sawmill was taken out of operation in the 1950s, it is only the sash-saw at Stekka, belonging to the two holdings at Berge, which has been maintained.
When the sash-saws came into use in the 1500s, they revolutionised the medieval way of cutting boards and planks of the timber logs. Formerly each log was split and could thus only provide two planks; “tiler” (slabs). With the new saws several planks could be cut from one log. From old times, Tørvikbygd has been rich in pine and oak forest, it is therefore to be expected that the saws have been in use there for a long time.
Operation and technique
The Stekka saw may be called semi-automatic, and the construction is clever. The saw frame is attached to “korlestanga” a rod that transfers power from the undershot water wheel. Directly behind the saw fence is the cogwheel. A chain that is coiled around the cogwheel is attached to “the cradle”. From the top of the water channel is the lever arm, attached to the “nodding” cylinder, enabling the sliding rod to push forward every time the saw frame is up, and pulls the log forward one notch, towards the sawblade.
The sash-saw and the boat-builders in Stekka
The sash-saw saws planks from the logs in their full width without cutting the edges. This is why this type of saw is well suited to cut broad planks for the boat-builders, and this is one of the reasons why the saw has kept its standing so long in the fjord communities. There have been boat-builders in many a shed along the fjord – a useful additional industry for many farms. In Stekka boats and sloops have been built through generations, and this activity has lasted up until the last war, through Stekka Skibsbyggeri A/S. “Risseskuret” where they designed and cut the ribs, is still standing in Stekka.
- Tveiten, O. (1986) Ein levande tradisjon: oppgangssagene på Stekka og Grind i Tørvikbygd. Fortidsvern, 2.