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Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest
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CORNELIS CORNELISZoon VAN UITGEEST

(1550-1607)

inventor of the wind powered saw mill

The inventor of the wind powered saw mill is named Cornelis Corneliszoon, a man from Uitgeest, a village north of Holland's capital Amsterdam. The invention was a wooden construction which he developed at the end of the sixteenth century, and this construction turned out to be one of the greatest inventions of its time.

The invention of Cornelis Corneliszoon is related to the sawing of timber. Up until then the sawing of wood had been a difficult and time-consuming job, because much of it was done manually. The great advantage of this new invention was that it made it possible to saw timber with the help of wind energy and as a result it was possible to saw large amounts of timber in a relatively short time. Thus boards and beams could be sawn, which could be used for shipbuilding and the enormous growth of shipbuilding in the Netherlands in general and the Zaan region in particular was a direct consequence of this invention. From this period onwards the Zaanstreek (the Zaan district) was seen as the world's first industrial area.

Cornelis Corneliszoon was born in the middle of the sixteenth century; however the exact date is unknown. In his patents letter Corneliszoon called himself 'a poor farmer with wife and children' and in a surviving contemporary document he was described as a 'sawyer on the Moldijck'. (The Moldijck was a dike in Uitgeest and is today known as Meldijk). It is also known that he was a millwright who built windmills in a number of places, for example, at Alkmaar a town north of Uitgeest, as well as outside the Province of North Holland. He died, most probably, shortly before 1607 and in that year his widow requested an extension of the patent from 1597, for a further ten years. She received an extension of another three only.

Corneliszoon was a skilled inventor and innovator of windmill constructions. Apart from developing a technique for sawing timber with wind energy, he also developed a vital part for an oil mill, namely the use of 'edge stones' which were needed to crush the seeds and to process them into linseed meal from which oil was pressed.. He also obtained a patent for a watermill with pumps, and developed an improvement for animal powered mills. As will be clear, he was an extremely able and multi facetted man. Inevitably the idea of the crankshaft was adopted by others, without Corneliszoon receiving any financial reward. He therefore requested a patent for the invention of the crankshaft which was granted on December 6, 1597 for a period of ten years. Following the invention of the sawmill, the production rose 3000 percent, as compared with the situation when timber was still sawn by hand and this increase in production was important because at the beginning of the seventeenth century there was a great demand for timber at shipyards.

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