Cutting wood with some old Homelites ( bow saw style)


Don't make me chop you
Feb 4, 2006
N.E. Illinois
Today wasn't one of those good days for doing trees so I decided to get caught up on some firewood and brought these two saws out to the woodpile for a little workout and to get a little more practice at using them.

Mike suggested I post some pics to make it offical that I did some cutting with a bow saw. Al said to start a new thread, so here are some pics of that 775 G I got running with a clearing bow and a little pukey Homelite XL 12 with a for real bow on it. You wouldn't think that little saw would power that much chain and bar but it does. Cuts pretty decent in softwood.

You can tell when these bows are going to jump, they get jerky in the cut. The spike is the key, you can cut right down to the ground and the spike will keep the chain out the dirt. The spike can also get in your way if you try to cut in the same manner as a regular bar. It very similar to plunge cutting with a regular bar only smoother. But you still have to be on your guard for kickback.

Any comment on how to properly use these type saws is appreciated. This is new to me and any little tidbits of info would be helpful. I am planning to set up two more saws that have more power and speed with these same type bows, one clearing and the other a regular bow.

Sorry no vids, that will come later after I figure out how to download on you tube.
Cool, its nice to see those old workhorses still working.

Great pictures, Larry. That blue Homelite looks like one of the first saws I ever used. I need to look around my Dad's and see if it is hiding somewhere.

I can't help you with how to run them properly...the first chain I ever broke was with that Homelite bow saw. I managed to hit a rock, I guess, and the chain whispered its deathly sound as it disappeared down through the woods...never did find the chain.
When I was but a sprout bow bars were popular with southern pulpwood cutters working the pine plantations. SOP was to cut the 8-10 inch diameter trees straight through,give it a shove while a front hinge strap remained then buck out the pulp logettes. The cutters liked bow bars because they wouldn't bind too badly in the cut-just push on through when the cut pinched closed.
As I said before I used a bow on a 250 Mac in early/mid 60's when I was 15 or 16 years old to clear fence lines and cut fence posts.Those bars,like the one in this picture,had guards across the tops.I've never used this praticular bar as I really don't have a need to.

You just hook the spike and give them a shove .
Sweet Larry glad to see a classic saw in use.
See Ya
Cool I like to see them Homelites running still. A little tip, those Bowbars are not for bucking, you use the wide tip only, I hate them but there are folks who can brush some serious line with those rigs, at least 20 years ago there was.
Actually I don't ever remember using any thing but the nose myself.I will say this that back in the day you could really carry the mail clearing with one of those things.I have no idea how they would compare to running a modern small displacement saw to do the same job.
I find it interesting that Al and Wiley report that these bow bars really got the job done clearing. 20 years ago or so a few of the pre-commercial tree thinning crews I had under contract gave them a go, but only for a short while before going back to standard bars.

The problem was that when the operator pushed the bow bar through the 2-5 inch diameter stem of the tree being cut, the trunk dropped through the open bow, trapping the bar until the cutter lifted the tree free...or the tree dropped into the bow and then tipped over, leveraging the saw out of the cutter's hands.

When your job is to cut 2500+ stems a day, this quickly became unsustainable.

No problems like this, y'all with experience clearing with a bow bar?
Burnham, even though I've never used one, that was exactly the issue I imagined. I think if you were carefully making individual cuts that you could avoid it, but getting in a hurry and simply slashing at cuts/knocking brush out of your way, it would quickly become a problem. This observation coming from somebody who has never owned a chipper and spent many days chopping brush down in a trailer...
What is the point of a bow bar? What is the advantage that prompted someone to start making them?

From the looks of it, I don't think I would like it.

Burnham, the way they were used in Southzone was with a sawyer/swamper team. Having a swamper to always have a hand on the brush, pushing or pulling was critical to production. I hated them, cause I felt I could cut as much brush and still be able to fall stuff as well.
Gotcha, Dave. That makes sense.

Though I always hate to have a swamper working in that close to me when I'm cutting.

Think I'd be looking at it the same as you...
The stuff I was clearing as a teenager was about 4 to 8 inchs,fence post material mostly.I trapped a bar ever so often but not really that much once you get the hang of it.I little trick is to make a slight down hill cut,towards the lean.We were not real praticular where they landed.

Where they hung usually is by snagging another sapling going down.Once you got a hole opened up in a fence row it went pretty smooth.
Another cool thread with good info, never seen on eused around the pnw although there were probably some thinning done with them.
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This has been an interesting and informative thread. Thanks you guys for passing on the info and your experiences and all the comments. It is all good.

Magnus has my curiousity up too. Hope he has some pics. I have only ever seen two styles of these bars.

Al, how big is that one bar you have hanging on the wall ??? That thing looks huge. That was run by a Mac 250 or was it another bigger saw??
There are bow bar's that is in triangular shape with helper handel and without.
First Sweden made was Sector saw 1916. It was with a kind of bow saw.

Gerber was actually a band saw so there was no chain but it is bow type I guess so I include that too.
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Excellent pics Magnus:thumbup: :thumbup:

I am going to be in the poorhouse the rest of my working life trying to keep up with Magnus :lol: when it comes to collecting saws.