He testified, also, that when he discovered that he could not remove the sliver with the stick he sought to signal the head sawyer to shut down the mill, but was unable to attract his attention; testifying further, and in this he is corroborated by experienced sawyers, that, when a silver gets caught in such a way as to rub the saw and cause it to heat, the saw becomes dangerous, as the heat loosens the shanks which hold the teeth thus letting them fly out, and causes the saw to become limber increasing its tendency to bend and break into pieces.
-- Alvah Littlefield Sawyer, Harkins v. J. A. Veness Lumber Co., Supreme Court of Washington decision
He found work in a saw mill, later becoming a sawyer, and continued thus employed until he had the misfortune to lose his right hand in 1856. He afterwards worked at various kinds of labor, continuing a resident of that place until 1882.
-- A history of the northern peninsula of Michigan and its people
Before it became a surname, sawyer was a common occupational title, from the Middle English sawier, "to saw."