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Winsted saw sharpener retires after 50+ years
May 2, 2016

BY STARRLA CRAY
Associate Editor

WINSTED, MN – There was seldom a dull moment at Thiemann’s Saw-Service in Winsted.

From handsaws and miter saws to buzz saws and chain saws, lifelong Winsted resident Jerome Thiemann, 84, pretty much saw it all.

He started the saw-sharpening business in his early 30s, after realizing a need for this type of work.

“I was working at Lester’s,” Thiemann recalled. “They had so many saws to sharpen, and didn’t have the equipment to do it.”

Seizing the opportunity, Thiemann purchased a $475 hand saw sharpening machine (made by Foley Saw Company in Minneapolis) in 1963.

“I didn’t know the first thing about sharpening saws. It just takes lots of mistakes,” Thiemann said in 2007. “You also have to keep your head together or you can lose your fingers.”

In the early years, Thiemann worked on many hand saws. If the teeth were broken off, Thiemann used a power setter to recut new teeth for the entire length.

Farmers often brought him buzz saws to sharpen, too.

“I did 10 to 15 of those a year and got about $20 a piece,” Thiemann recalled. “They were happy and I was happy.”

Thiemann noted that while he never got rich off the work, it was something he enjoyed doing.

“It was never a full-time job,” he said, explaining that most of his career – 33 years – was spent at Lester’s.

Railroad, war, and more
Thiemann entered the workforce early in life, leaving Holy Trinity High School at age 16 to help area farmers.

At 18, he did seasonal work for Green Giant, and later worked for Great Northern Railway, laying new tracks in Waverly.

While working for the railroad, Thiemann was in an accident and had to get stitches. At the clinic, he met his future wife, Margaret.

Thiemann was drafted for the Korean War in 1951, and he and Margaret stayed in touch through letters. He was severely burned by white phosphorus during the war, but finished serving his time after recovering in the hospital.

After 28 months in the Army, Thiemann returned home to find that jobs were scarce. He earned a living helping his dad haul milk to Pure Milk in Winsted, and eventually bought his own truck for two milk routes.

Later, he got into welding and maintenance, working first for Carl Millerbernd, and then for Lester’s.

Thiemann kept up his part-time saw sharpening business well after retiring from his full-time job, but recently decided to call it quits due to cataracts.

Now, Thiemann can be found spending time with his wife, as well as their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

“They keep me busy,” Thiemann said.

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