Sawing gives a better and more accurate surface to stone than can be achieved by a mason. Back in the days when Rossendale's quarries were at their peak, sawing stone was a slow process. However, it did have the advantage that it could be mechanised and driven by water or steam power and it was widely used.
The process was simple. Long, straight iron blades were moved backwards and forwards across the stone until they wore their way through it. Abrasive sand or chilled iron shot was added to help the blade cut through the stone and a flow of water kept the blades cool. Saw frames had a number of parallel blades, spaced to give the desired thickness of the sawn stone. Typically, these saws would cut through Haslingden Flag at a rate of about 3 inches (5cm) an hour.
Saw sheds, where the saw frames were housed, were a feature of most large quarries.
Modern stone saws use circular, diamond-tipped blades driven by an electric motor.
VR Simulation of Sawing Stone
The Swing Saw video below was produced by a group of young people as part of the CAR Video Unit Project.