Sawbench in 60 Minutes: The Movie

Crap. I forgot to show this movie to the audience at Woodworking in America. I blame jet lag, alcohol and the boll weevil.

The week before flying out to Pasadena, Calif., for the show I built a lot of sawbenches to try to cut my time down to about 30 minutes. That would allow me to work at a pace where I could talk and not have sweat coming out of my nipples as I built the sawbench.

After getting comfortable with my procedure last week, I had my shop assistant, Ty Black, build the bench as I filmed it. He had helped me figure out some of the geometry, but this film shows the first time he gave my procedure a go.

— Christopher Schwarz

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27 Responses to Sawbench in 60 Minutes: The Movie

  1. Paul B says:

    I want one of those magic hammers.

  2. Mark Nelson says:

    While the magical hammer was undoubtedly the most hilarious part, I also enjoyed the fast-motion clock on the wall.

    Interesting stuff!

  3. Jonathan says:

    Imagine having “Chris Schwarz Shop Assistant” on your resume!!

  4. shavemaker says:

    Too much fun!

  5. Rainer says:

    What’s even more impressive is that the time also included him having to pull off two legs and re-nail them.
    And no magic hammer–my Dad only took a tap and two hits to put a 3″ construction nail all the way into two 2-bys. I took some more…

  6. Brian Holmes says:

    You can see why he’s the assistant – 46′ to build it but it took Mr Schwarz only 6’11” to show all of us how and play the banjo while he was doing it! But the question on my mind is: Did you make the banjo yourself, Mr Schwarz? That would really impress me.

  7. says:


    Sent from my HTC smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

  8. Casey says:

    Two things I especially liked- Watching the nails sink themselves, and Scotland the Brave on banjos. Can’t be beat!

  9. Steve Jones says:

    Ok, I’m not a Roubo or Moxon scholar, but isn’t that a sawhorse? Or pony, given its short legs? I thought a sawbench had a sittable top wide enough to support and clamp wide boards for either ripping or crosscutting and maybe provision for a holdfast – like earlier Schwarz sawbenches….

    • John says:

      That’s what I was thinking. Looks like a great sawhorse, but a 4×4 is a bit narrow to sit on comfortably.

      • Brian Eve says:

        Don’t forget that since the legs are nailed to the outside of the 4×4, rather than inset like on more traditional designs. I think this could offer more support in the holding of lumber. As far as sitting on it, you are on your own.

    • Publius Secundus says:

      So we have again the question of the ages: do you need a sawbench to build a . . . sawhorse?

      Chris, many of us have followed your work over the years and read pretty much everything you’ve written or printed, magazine or book. We’ve become Schwarz followers and have built or aim to build Thomas’ projects, the try square, your Roubo, the Schwarz sawbench, etc. No offense, but this latest engineer-it-to-be-built-fast sawbench simply isn’t Schwarzian. In your effort to make it very quickly built, you seem to have squeezed out the original’s character and elegance of versatility, not to mention the middling complexity of the original which called for some care and fitting and probably handplaning. The virtues you noted of the original design, that is, the wide top surface, the notch for sawing support, and the capability of taking a holdfast, seem to have fallen away. You may be able to construct one of these pretenders in a half hour, but what do you have? You can buy a new purported Stanley No. 4 plane equipped with a negligible frog and a liittle iron adjusted by two knurled nuts like a spokeshave, which I suppose might plane some, but is it really the descendant of a Type 11 or earlier No. 4 with strength and solidity every whichaway and the fine Bailey adjuster? Stanley de-engineered itself to where it is today, no doubt preoccupied with costs rather than simply rapidity of production. I’m sure many of us check this blog and PW every day for a fix of Schwarz.

  10. RWL says:

    Watching that is enough to make a person head for the fridge….

  11. mikeneves says:

    If i listened to banjo music while I worked, I bet I could go that fast too.

  12. Shawn Nichols says:

    Chris, I’m so happy you’re unemployed. Simply brilliant.

  13. Franz-Martin says:

    Chris, the tiny sawhorses in front also look good. I always wanted to know how those tapered legs are made. Can you help me?

  14. Jim says:

    Nice intelligent use of a bench as a tool

  15. Graham Burbank says:

    And I thought I had a saw problem…Aren’t we supposed to be paring down our collection to just what we need ? and with all those saws on the wall, did he switch to a rippper for the oblique scarf joint? (a 4 ppi ripsaw set for softwoods, no less)

  16. mikeandike says:

    Am I the only one who thought of watching Bugs Bunny play the Minute Waltz in 30 seconds?

    In all seriousness…I need to get my butt in gear and build one of these…

  17. Dave says:

    Your shop assistant needs to scale back on the Red Bull & Quaalude’s

    Too Funny!

  18. Jack Palmer says:

    I thought the most interesting part of the video was that very quick peek at what looks like a 12″ Northfield jointer. Is that a new addition to your shop? Tell us more about that.

  19. Stu says:

    Thanks for the video. I have to ask, just how much heckling of the assistant was there as this went on? I feel there should have been good natured heckling.

    Also, how much do we have to pay you to be a “shop assistant”?


  20. Steve Jones says:

    I knew there was a type of nail called a “sinker”. I had no idea that meant they just sink into the wood by themselves after an initial tap or two. Forget cut nails and wrought nails; I want some of those.

  21. Todd says:

    Nice video. Maybe including some super-imposed clouded messages would’ve been approporiate!

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