Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sawbench - I cant blame my tools

So, this week was taking what we had learned the previous week from the Hand Tool School on hand sawing techniques and putting it into practice. Taking what is essentially a 5 board bench design and splitting the top in two along the length for a ripping slot.

This was a fun exercise because having a proper saw bench was on my list of needed shop tools. It's not much fun stooping over a recycling bin that wants to collapse from your weight bearing over the middle of the long edge. I attributed this for my issues with staying plumb all the way through my cuts. After all, who wants to admit a shortcoming in skill?

I won't go into the details of how it's built but what I will mention is what I wished I had done differently. The overall length is about 3' with the legs 6" in from the ends. I should have put the legs within 3" of the ends because ad I'm sawing, I find that I put my weight on the end at some point and the bench wants to tip like a see-saw. My only concession to power tools for this project was to use a drill to fasten the stretchers to the legs and pocket screws to fasten the top.

After finishing, I decided to do the practice exercises again. What a difference to have a stable surface! I'm able to cut to a line, but am still having problems with staying plumb all the way through the cut. I (being right handed) put my left knee up on the bench to hold down the work piece, and have a feeling that I am leaning too far out as the cut leans out (with the tip of the saw closer to the bench than the handle). It's not drastic and it starts out plumb but about 1/2 way through, it starts to lean out of square.

I guess it comes down to me and more practice.


  1. Mike if you are ripping, it helps (in your case) to put your right knee on the bench so that you position your body more in line with the cut. Do the opposite with cross cutting and tuck your right leg just inside the cut line supporting the wood from sliding backwards. This way your body is best positioned for a plumb cut. I experimented with the overhand on my bench and found 3" on either side to be about right.

  2. Thanks Shannon, I was using the right knee for ripping. But the concept of using the standing leg as a support for the board was a new thought to me. I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes.

  3. Mike, great job on the bench! I'll be using your experience to set my legs in about 3 inches from the ends. :)

  4. Hey Mike,
    Wanted to ask, now that you've had a bit of a chance to use it, what you think of your Pax saw? I'm looking for both crosscut and rip hand saws for Hand Tool School and it seems Pax and Lynx are the only ones around that are ready to roll (without breaking the bank) Lie-Nielsen is going to come out with longer saws, but not for a couple of months. Thanks! Jeff

  5. Hi Jeff, sorry it took so long to get back, I have been meaning to get back to some more practice, but have been working on another project. I'll be putting up a post soon reviewing it from my newbie perspective. Just need to get a little more practice. Only wish I could try out a premium saw if only for comparison purposes.

  6. Thanks Mike, I'll look forward to your post. I too wish I could test drive a few to compare and contrast, but no such luck in these parts.


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