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Much debated subject over the years.   Lots of opinions, but seems to be "for no particular reason"

A. It's called a nib, and discussions about its purpose, or lack thereof, have taken on the qualities of theological debate. One side says the nib had no practical purpose after 1693 A.D., but it may have before that date. Another side says nibs have always been ornamental and nothing else. A third group says the nib had an absolute purpose when it was invented, but, beginning in the 18th century, no one remembered what that purpose was, and further, we cannot agree what that purpose was either, but here is my theory.... The reason for the nib debate is the same as that for arguments among biblical scholars: there were no security cameras to document the events as they took place, and all records were generated long after the principal actors were dead.

Disston and Sons published an explanation in their Lumberman Handbook stating:

The "Nib" near the end of a hand saw has no practical use whatever, it merely serves to break the straight line of the back of blade [sic] and is an ornamentation only.

Carpenters have used the nib to hold a string that ties a blade guard over the teeth (probably a "found" use for the nib, not its reason for being). Some have started a cut by notching the wood with the nib (saw teeth do a better job of that). Speculators have speculated that saw makers tested hardness of the steel on the nib. Some have said early handsaws had an auxiliary handle near the toe to guide the flexible saws and prevent them from bending. The nib is said by them to be a vestigial handle which had become ornamental. At last count there were 117 recorded reasons, uses, or causes for the saw nib.

 

https://paulsellers.com/2014/07/questions-answered-why-nibs-on-old-handsaws/

https://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodworking-blogs/chris-schwarz-blog/2-great-uses-for-a-saws-nib

https://woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/539/what-is-the-purpose-of-a-saw-nib

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