Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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EMERSON, James E., machinist, born in Maine, 2 November 1823. His youth was spent in farming and working in sawmills, and he was a carpenter in Bangor for several years. In 1850 he removed to Lewiston, where he established a manufactory for making woodworking machinery, and while engaged in this business made his first invention. This was a machine for boring, turning, and cutting the heads on the spools or bobbins that are used in cotton factories, and did the same work that formerly required three machines. In 1852 he removed to California, where he was first employed as superintendent of a sawmill, and afterward became a proprietor of mills in various counties of that state. Here he proved the advantages of circular saws with movable teeth. For several years he was occupied in the introduction of his new saws, but subsequently returned to the east and manufactured edge tools in Trenton, New Jersey, receiving large contracts for swords and sabers from the government during the civil war. He afterward became the superintendent of the American saw company, which was organized to manufacture his circular saws with movable teeth. This company at the Paris exposition of 1867 exhibited a circular saw 88 inches in diameter, and costing $2,000. Among his miscellaneous inventions are a combined anvil, shears, and punching machine (1866), and a swage for spreading saw teeth to a uniform width and shape, and cutting the edge at a single operation.
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