This bench is made for sawing

A sawbench. Not quite the modern version known as sawhorses, it is about knee-height, with a flat top, canted legs, and sometimes a V-cut in the front. A pair of them were traditionally used to knock down long stock using panel saws, either for ripping or crosscutting. Why knee-height? Well, it allows a sawyer to use his (or her) weight to hold down the stock as it is sawn, sticking even a gimpy knee on top. It has another reason as this body position gets the saw into the correct position for the cut based on typical saw sharpening angles.

So I had some BORG pine (Big Orange Retail Giant, aka Home Depot or Lowes) sitting in a corner of my shop, heckling me like a Yankee fan along the 3rd baseline at a Boston game “You don’t have the guts to use me in a project, punk, do ya? I’ll twist like a pretzel if you do.”

I let the pine sit there all winter long, and now into the late Spring. If you’re gonna twist and shout, do it on your own time, piney. It complied and all was good.

Today started with a Bruins victory parade, holding the Stanley Cup high and chasing the hockey demons out of Beantown after 39 years of drought. “Sweet Emotion…” Afterwards, I tried working outside, but the horse flies lay in wait and, seeing a large mammalian victim, pounced. They were vicious, with large, gnashing teeth and a mean streak 10 yards long…about the distance I sprinted to escape them. They probably had the stamina to chase me to Marathon buzzing ‘Nike Nike Nike’ the whole way there (yes, I am watching a show on Ancient Greeks right now).

Implements to make piney do my bidding.

I hadn’t used my winding sticks in about 6 months, so I checked them with my straight edge and cleaned them up.

Action shot. Damn those winding sticks rock. For those who don’t know, using winding sticks like this shows how out of ‘wind’ your stock is, that is twisted from side to side. Since they are longer than your stock is wide, they exaggerate the wind and identify high or low corners. I use them on the ends and then again in the middle of the stock, though if this was longer I might check in a few more places.

End-to-end checking. So I basically have one face true. All this was accomplished with my hand planes, but no actions shots of those.

This shot shows my present, somewhat ponderous bench situation. I have a torsion box bench top on top of my dad’s Shop Smith, with a small crochet for holding most furniture sized stock for edge work, and a 1/2″ planing stop on the end of the bench. Sometime down the future road of good intentions, I plan to build a real work bench. For now I deal. Part of dealing is making a ‘bird’s mouth’ bench appliance (no, not found at Sears) which holds thicker stock than my crochet can handle.

My Stanley #6 is the first plane that usually touches any of my project wood, unless it is really rough. It can take some pretty thick shavings, though not as thick as my scrub plane or my wooden try plane. These are the result of thickness planing the edge to get it parallel with the other jointed edge.

I chop down the 2×4 into leg blanks using my panel saw. Man, it sure would be nice to have a sawbench about now.

Off the saw. Pretty good for not having taken a saw to anything in anger in a few months.

I square up the leg stock using various planes–this is fun work, but makes for uninteresting blogging. I only manage to cut myself once with my marking gauge while marking for thickness planing. No pain, no gain, but I decided to wash out the wound with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and iodine, followed by a neosporin chaser.

Here I’ve laid out the notches in the top of a leg, 10 degrees from vertical and with the lower most point 24/32 from the jointed face. I usually use 32nds of an inches because I got used to doing that in my guitar building classes. For some reason, everything there was 20/32 or 52/64 rather than usual SAE measurements. I also don’t have a vise at all on this bench and rely on clamps for the most part. This is one advantage I see of having a typical ‘skirt’ around a bench–who needs a vise with a limited width when you can use a couple of clamps (which you probably already own) and have an unlimited width vise? I have it turned so that the saw will be vertical which is easier to feel than 10 degrees.

Following a Schwarz’ article on saw cuts, which is based on Robert Wearing’s “Essential Woodworker” (which I still need to buy at some point), I used a ‘second-class’ saw cut. Basically a chisel nick to guide the saw at the start of the cut.

“I’m ready for my closeup.”

Well sorta.

I was pretty surprised these came out this good. I’ve never sawn a joint like this, though I suppose it is not much different than a dovetail. Still they match up pretty well.

Without changing the marking gauge, I could mark the depth of the laps for the legs into the top. I used each leg to mark out the actual width of the laps, though I started all
2 inches from the edge.

Same second-class saw cut chisel nicks.

I was able to crosscut these joints and banged out the waste of one of the laps using my chisel. I got enough done for today and called it quits. Next I’ll finish the other 3 lap joints, then decide on stretchers for the legs.

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