Sawing stone

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.

Click to see a description of a frame saw taken from Building Construction by W B McKay, first published in 1944. This text book was widely used by students of building and architecture in the decades following its publication and has now been re-published by Donhead Publishing Ltd. Reproduced by kind permission of Neil McKay and Donhead Publishing Ltd.

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.

This shows the back of the machine. There appears to be no stone in the machine and the saw blades can be seen clearly. The link by which the frame holding the saw blades is made to move backwards and forwards can be seen in the botom right of the photograph.















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.



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