On any given day, anywhere in the world, you’ll find them in the hands of robust men as sweat drips from their brow. It’s one of the tools most associated with the testosterone filled male, muscles bulging as they fire it up and the sawdust flies. It’s the circular saw, and the irony behind this manly instrument is that it was invented by a quiet little Shaker woman named Tabitha Babbitt.
Tabitha was a member of the Harvard Shaker community in Massachusetts, living a simple life as a weaver.
The community thrived on its forestry commerce, and Tabitha would watch the men in the saw mill as she spun her goods. She noticed that the long two-man pit saw the loggers used was wasting motion, as the saw only cut one way.
Using her knowledge of the weaving machine, she created a circular saw blade and mounted it on a spinning axel. Spinning the axel at a high rate of speed, her circular saw proved a success, and the first saw she made currently resides in Albany, New York.
Tabitha is also accredited with inventing machine-cut nails, and many believe she assisted in the creation or refining of several tools commonly used today. As a Shaker, she valued a simple life, and never patented any of her inventions.
So gentlemen, the next time you’re working on a construction sight, or revving up the circular saw to work on one of your home projects, remember you have a woman to thank. Thank Tabitha Babbitt.