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Bow saw used by Lars Halvorsen Sons

Date: before 1920s
Dimensions:
Showcase: 45.5 x 95.5 mm, 1.2 kg
Medium: Timber, metal, cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Carl Halvorsen
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Bow saw
Object No: 00029680

User Terms

    Description
    This handmade bow saw was used for cutting curved timber. It features a straight serrated metal blade that can be swiveled using the two handles at either end. The handles of the saw are bowed, and twisted cotton is stretched between the top of the two.

    In practice a small length of wood, known as a spat, is inserted between the cotton cords. When the spat is rotated the string gradually reduces in length, tensioning the blade through a cantilever action from the centre rail. When the blade is sufficiently tensioned the spat is placed behind the centre rail preventing it from unwinding.

    Traditional shipwright’s tools were expensive and difficult to replace. This meant that tools such as this bow saw were used by several generations of the Halvorsen family.

    SignificanceUsed for both boat building and restoration, the tool is an important record of the work of shipwrights in the early to mid 20th century. It was used by Harold and Carl Halvorsen at their Neutral Bay shipyard. Their father was a Norwegian immigrant who established the family boat building business in Australia in the late 1920s.
    HistoryA saw uses a hard blade or wire with an abrasive edge to cut through softer materials, such as wood. The cutting edge of a saw is either a serrated blade or an abrasive. English and American bow saws, or buck saws, feature a toothed blade suspended between two narrow handles known as 'cheeks', which are supported and separated by a stretcher in the center of the handles, creating an 'H' shape.

    In 1925 the Norwegian born Lars Halvorsen began working from a small rented boat shed in Drummoyne with his eldest son Harold. Needing larger premises, they moved the fledgling business to a boat shed at Careening Cove, and in 1927 to Lloyds yard on the site of Ben Boy's wool store at Neutral Bay.

    Continuing a family tradition, Lars Halvorsen trained his sons to be shipwrights from the age of fourteen. Following this apprenticeship the sons progressively joined the company; Carl in 1927, Bjarne in 1930, Magnus in 1932, and Trygve in 1934. His daughter Elnor joined in 1928, working with her mother Bergithe and the youngest daughter Margit, who worked as the secretary from 1939. Following the death of Lars Halvorsen in 1936, Lars Halvorsen Sons Pty Ltd was formed with Harold as Chairman Managing Director and principle designer, and Carl as Sales Director.

    Lars Halvorsen Sons Pty Ltd purchased a waterside property with five acres at Waterview St, Ryde, and production moved from the Neutral Bay boatshed, which was retained as a service branch, to the new boatshed in 1940. The Ryde facility was the largest in the southern hemisphere, with an engineering section, blacksmith and lumber shops, stores, machine shop, plumbers shop, sheet metal shop, fueling facilities, five slip-ways for craft up to 90 feet and 100 tones, a three tone crane and an electric oxy-acetylene welding plant.

    During World War II owners of boats over 40 feet in length were asked to hand over their vessels over for the war effort. At the Ryde boatyard these civilian boats were refitted for military use. Boats built by Lars Halvorsen Sons were also deployed by the Australian, United States and Dutch forces during the war. The momentum of this war time production continued into the 1950s with the manufacture of cruisers and the subsequent establishment of the large hire fleet at Bobbin Head in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

    From 1926 to 1976 the Halvorsens built 1,299 vessels including motor cruisers, launches, tenders, yachts, tugs, mission boats, fishing boats and military craft.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Bow saw used by Lars Halvorsen Sons

    Primary title: Bow saw for cutting timber

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