The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

September 30, 2013

Woodworker shows off her cherished antique pedal saw

BECKLEY — With the light tap of her foot, Teresa Holcomb’s New Rogers cast iron treadle scroll saw, a late 1800s relic, spun to life Sunday at Tamarack. The tiny blade cut shapes out of thin wood with precision, resulting in a simple handmade bookmark.

Her demonstration drew a small audience as people leaned in to appreciate the more-than-a-century-old primitive machine. Holcomb said the saw — which she acquired 10 years ago from a Boston antique store — was originally built to cut delicate Victorian scroll work to adorn homes. Although Holcomb purchased the saw as more of an eye-catching demonstration piece, she said it is still fully functional and has all of its original parts.

“It took me more than two years to finally find one that had all of its parts,” Holcomb said, explaining that finding replacement parts for such a rare machine was next to impossible, and also expensive.

Mostly working with cherry, maple and sassafras woods for her page keepers, Holcomb uses her pedal saw to cut out tiny pieces in the shape of animals, lighthouses, trees and many other designs.

Formerly in the insurance business, Holcomb opted to join her husband’s woodworking business, based in Spencer, about 12 years ago. Teresa’s husband, Phillip, builds typical Appalachian instruments including dulcimers and fiddles.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. On a good week, Holcomb can make roughly 400 bookmarks from beginning to end. The pro-cess involves wood cutting, sanding and carving. Afterward, she distributes her bookmarks to be sold at more than 100 galleries across the U.S., including Tamarack.

In addition to their woodworking business, the Holcombs recently opened the Chestnut Ridge Winery in Spencer. With flavors ranging from Blackberry Merlot to Peach Chardonnay, she said the winery is currently open for free tours and wine tasting events. For more information, call 304-927-4831.

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