I end up giving away all of the sawbenches I build to woodworkers who give me those wet, doe-eye looks that say, “I don’t think I can build one.” That’s ridiculous, of course, because these things are as easy to make as a box of brownies. But I’m soft, I suppose, like the resulting brownies (always undercooked, natch).
The downside to my sawbench charity is that sometimes I end up without any sawbenches in my shops, which makes me nuttier than squirrel poo. The upside, is that I get to make more sawbenches, and each generation gets a little better.
This weekend I built the sawbench that me and my students will be building during my handsawing classes in 2008. This example can be built from one 2 x 8 x 10’, and it took me about four hours to do – I machined all the stock flat and cut all the joints by hand.
This sawbench is a little different than the others because it’s designed to be a hand-sawing exercise. All the joints are entirely saw-cut. No boring. No mortising. No chopping.
Now if you’ve gotten to this point in the blog entry and are wondering “What in Moxon’s name is a sawbench?” then check out this old entry on my blog at Woodworking Magazine. Sawbenches are magical devices that make full-size handsaws really work (handsaws stink at bench-height, except for overhand ripping). Plus, I assemble carcases on them, use them as stepstools, plane table bases against the sawbench’s bird’s mouth, and eat my lunch while sitting on one.
I don’t have construction drawings drafted for this bench yet, but you don’t really need them. Here are the basics: Make the bench about knee-high. This one is 19-3/4” high. The legs are angled 10° off 90°. The legs are notched at the top at 10° to fit into mating notches in the top. All the stretchers are attached to the legs with half-lap joints. Glue and screws keep everything together.
Here’s my materials list:
1 Top 1-1/4” x 6-3/4” x 32”
4 Legs 1-1/4” x 2-1/2” x 21”
2 Long Stretchers 1-1/4” x 2-1/2” x 26”
2 Short stretchers 1-1/4” x 2-1/2” x 12”
The only slightly tricky thing is cutting the feet so the sawbench sits flat on the floor. This is great fun to do once you know the trick. First put the sawbench on a flat and level surface. Then take small wooden shims and shim under all the feet until the sawbench is level on both its length and width.
Then take a small block of wood and cut an 11° bevel on one edge. Place this on your known flat surface and use the block to mark all around the legs of the sawbench (the beveled end allows you to make the outside angle of the legs).
Then clamp the sucker to your bench and saw the feet to your lines. This might seem hard. It’s not.
As always, I plan on keeping this sawbench until I retire. But that’s not likely to happen. Plus, I need to build another version that uses lapped-dovetails for one of the advanced classes I’m teaching in July.
— Christopher Schwarz