We often say the best ideas are born on jobsites by toolhounds looking for a better way. The Big Foot Saw is no exception.

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Bob Hutchings

Credit: Photo: Gary Katz

Tired of working as an auto-body guy, in 1971 Bob Hutchings got into the piece-price business in Palm Springs, Calif. And I mean piece-pricing. All he did was nail-off sheathing, making about $100 a day while going through a pallet of Paslode strip nails every two weeks (that's 240,000 nails per month). From sheathing, Hutchings moved on to panelized roofs. He and his crew of 22 moved all over the Southwest. When business slowed down during the mid-'80s, he moved into framing in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. Finally, around 1986, he settled down in Portland, Ore., and started framing custom homes.

Hutchings' ability for personal reinvention over the years eventually crossed over to his tools. He just could not accept that his circular saw wouldn't cut through two 2x4 plates at a time, so he adapted it. By removing the lower guard on an 8-1/4 wormdrive, he was able to put on a 9-inch blade that went through double 2x4 in one pass. We used to call those "suicide saws," but that saw saved him countless extra steps, even though it cost him $50 every time an inspector caught him using it.

Always looking for an improvement, Hutchings spent nights tinkering at his kitchen table with a circular saw until he'd fabricated a new lower and upper guard for a 10-1/4-inch blade that could cut through a 4-by in a single pass. With that, the Big Foot Saw was born. The rest, you might say, is history. (And so are those $50 fines.)

–Gary Katz