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Antique Scroll Saw Barnes Velocepede

Wood and I are back from vacation, and he has something he would like to report:

I have been scroll sawing for a long time. I have owned several makes: ShopSmith, Dewalt, and now RBI. I made a number of items with them in the past, and still enjoy scrollsawing.

The photograph here is of a museum quality saw. I remember that we had a scroll saw like it in the old barn at home. I tried to motorize it without success.

My brother Bill showed me our family’s scroll saw in his garage. His father-in-law (Dean Bischoff) had tried to restore it to operational condition. Bill was given the saw after they sold his in-law’s home (they had both passed away).

After asking about it, Bill gave it to me and I brought it to my home in Yuma, Arizona where I was able to determine the make and model. It is a F.W. and John Barnes Velocipede #2 (Velo) and is pedaled like a bicycle to make the blade go up and down, as it was made in an era before electricity was available.

I looked it up on the Internet and found additional information. This model was one of several that the Barnes Company manufactured from 1876 to 1930’s. It was made for commercial use and sold for $18. One source said that they manufactured around 13,000 of the Velocipede #2. It has a 24 inch throat which means that it can cut boards up to 24 inches long. It could cut pine up to three inches thick and walnut about an inch.

The Velo had 3 different versions during the time that is was manufactured. The original had a round belt from the large pedal-wheel to the smaller drive wheel and had oval pedals. The second version had block pedals and a flat leather belt - the round belt had a tendency to slip. A photo of this version accompanies this entry. The third model kept the flat leather belt, but changed back to the oval pedals. I believe that the one that I was given is the 3rd version. The serial number stamp on the wooden top says that it was number 6199 which should mean that it was the 6,199th produced.

Modern scroll saws use a 5 inch blade. The Velo uses a 7 inch blade. I was wondering about where I could get blades for it. I found an article that stated you just use coping saw blades which are still available.

The Victorian houses had a lot of embellishments on the exterior that are now known as “Gingerbread”. These scroll saws were used by contractors to create these embellishments. Both my grandfather and great-grandfather were construction workers so I do not know who really owned it, but I suspect that it was my grandfather Charles B. Olson.

Another Internet search also showed a few of these saws were for sale on Ebay ranging in price from $700 to almost $4,000. The cheaper one looked like it had been extensively restored. The $4,000 saw is the original.

“My” saw is not 100% original. The smaller fly wheel and the smaller belt drive wheel are not original. It does have the original seat and post. The larger fly wheel has also had some welding done on the spokes. It uses what is known as a parallel arm system for blade tensioning. That is the same system that modern scroll saws use. The top has also separated in one spot where the glue holding it together gave way.

What is the plan for this scroll saw? I need to glue the top back together, then it will take a place of honor in our front room.

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