This important maker of circular sawmills and general-purpose woodworking machinery was founded in 1903 and lasted until the late 1950s or early 1960s. In their prime (the 1920s) they were the largest maker of circular sawmills in the
country. After that time they moved their focus somewhat away from sawmills and towards shop machinery, including planers, jointers, and tablesaws.
During the 1950s the company used another name, American Woodworking Machinery Co., for marketing, presumably to de-emphasize their sawmill roots. This name should not be confused with the earlier, and larger, American
Wood Working Machinery Co. The former name is associated with Hackettstown, NJ, and was used in the 1950s and possibly the early 1960s. The latter name is associated with Rochester, NY and Williamsport, PA (among others), and was active between 1897 and 1925.
Over the years, quite a few brand names were used by American Saw Mill: Champion, Climax, Clipper, Hercules, Ideal, Jewel, Lightning, Monarch, Perfection, Royal and Triumph. When the company ceased operations, the Monarch Uni-Point radial arm saw product was purchased by Northfield Foundry & Machine Co., and is
still available. The Monarch 8" bench jointer was sold to American Machine & Foundry Co. (AMF), and was sold under the DeWalt label for a brief period. Tooling for the other machines ended up in the Hackettstown landfill.
- The earliest catalog we've seen so far is from 1908. That catalog shows a lot of sawmill-related machinery, but 1923 and subsequent catalogs show only standard woodworking machines: tablesaws, jointers, planers, etc. Wendel's book (see below) shows ads from as late as the 1950s for their sawmills, however. It is likely that from 1923 onwards they had separate catalogs for the sawmill machinery versus their general shop machinery.
- American Saw Mill catalogs appear surprisingly often on eBay. Thus far we have seen 1908, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1938 and 1950 catalogs.
- November 1910 (Volume 7 Issue 2) Catalogue of Copyright Entries lists "American sawmill machinery co.*, Hackettstown, N. J. [Catalog] no. 16. 144 p. illus. obl. 24mo. © Oct. 24, 1910; 2 c. Oct. 26, 1910: A 272739".
- September 1915 American Exporter lists, under "Sawmill Machinery", "American Sawmill Machinery Co., 48 Church St., New York, N. Y."
- An ad in a 1915 issue of "Carpenter and Builder" features the "American" contractors' portable variety woodworker.
- December 1921 American Builder lists, under suppliers of bandsaw machinery, "American Sawmill Machinery Co., Hackettstown, N. J. ('American')".
- C. H. Wendel's The Circular Saw Mill reports a 200-page 1922 catalog that included sawmills, and says that American's All-Steel sawmill was offered as late as the 1950s.
- A 1923 American Sawmill catalog features "American Saw Works" blades that were reportedly made by American Sawmill.
- An ad in the 1955-56 Hitchcock's Wood Workers Digest Directory uses the name American Woodworking Machinery Co.
- Dana Batory's catalog list says that this firm was founded in 1903.
- Bandsaw labeled, "American Sawmill Machinery Co. / 381 / New York U.S.A."
- Besides sawmills and woodworking machines, American Sawmill also sold engines. Until 1929 they sold Hercules engines. When Hercules discontinued production of their Model S engine, American Sawmill switched to Hercules look-alike engines from Plessisville. American Sawmill stopped selling engines when Plessisville stopped making them, in 1946. This information comes from postings on SmokStak.com, especially from Glenn Karch.