I bought an old saw a some time back and can’t work out what the indent at the end of some older handsaw is for. Can you help answer this?
About once a month or so I am asked this question and I always say that there are some good enough theories but most make no real practical sense for the simple reason that something more practical was around or the suggested use would not be something practiced enough for makers to build the feature into every saw for the few decades they were made. That said, there is no reason for not using what exists for a non intended use of it works well and here is a practical use I find works fine for me.
Measuring in the exact distance you want from the edge of a board or panel places the mark where you want it but the tape may not be rigid enough to hold a pencil against and pull the line like you would with say a square. Remember that this was the pre-tape measure era but straight rods and rulers were the common way.When the distance is more then the length of a square blade you can mark the distance and use the nib on the saw to pull the line as can be seen.
Mark the distance you need from the tape.
Place the indent nib next to the pencil mark and place the pencil in the recess.
Place the indent adjacent to the nib against the pencil.
Pinch the distance on the saw between the thumb and forefinger of the less dominant hand.
Pull the saw and pencil along the panel for a parallel line to saw to.