Well, here it is.

My Weirdest Power Tool
© Frank Ford, 3/5/98; Photos by FF, 3/2/98

It's an autopsy bone saw. It's really similar to the saw your orthopedist uses to cut off casts. It looks like a really dangerous circular saw, but it really doesn't work that way. The blade oscillates back & forth only a couple of degrees at a very rapid rate.

So, even when it's loaded with a sharp circular saw blade, it won't cut flesh. It just sort of jiggles your skin. But, it really chews through wood.

The blades that came with the saw are regular circular blades with segments cut out. There's a wide portion for broad cuts, and a narrow one for piercing. Here's an example of the cut the small blade segment can make in the side of a Martin D-18:

This little blade can make a 1" deep cut less than 1/2" long by 0.020" wide! It's just perfect for cutting the side of a guitar to receive onboard electronic controls. I can cut right through a paper template without tearing it:

Because the blade oscillates, it doesn't tend to grab or drift as it cuts, so square holes are a cinch.

The circular blades are standard jeweler's slitting blades I ordered from the M.S.C. catalog.

I turned this spare arbor to mount the standard circular 1" hole blades:

These blades come in varying thickness all the way down to 0.006" The really thin ones have about 300 teeth on a 3" diameter blade.

Here's a shot of me using the thin blade on my low profile arbor. I'm actually holding the arbor as it oscillates; I'm pressing the flexible blade flush against the guitar side (protected by 0.002" steel shim stock) as I'm cutting the neck off this B.C. Rich guitar:

I was able to saw the neck clean off right up to the truss rod taking only about 0.010" kerf and without even scratching the guitar's fine Brazilian rosewood sides! Follow me to
The B.C.Rich neck reset, featuring the bone saw.

Well, before you ask, I really don't know where to get one of these tools. I bought this one many years ago from a friend who found it a garage sale. Ten years or so later I figured out a use for it. I'll buy almost any tool I don't have because "you never know. . ."

One person e-mailed me looking for a bone saw, and just as I was composing my letter back to him, he e-mailed again saying he found one on the web at a site that sells surplus and used medical equipment!

I recently spoke with Rick Turner and he told me that Fein offers a saw blade for their reciprocating triangular detail sander. He thinks you could adapt one of these sanders for this use.

Here's another bone saw just like mine:

It's on a tray in the city morgue in the recent movie "Night Watch."

As crazed killer Tom Cray, Nick Nolte gives it a try as a murder weapon:

Too bad it doesn't cut skin. . .

Hey, look what this fellow is reaching for:

He's showing it to his friend, and Joe Pesci in "Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag"

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