In an effort to increase my use of hand tools I need a better way to saw big boards. Right now I can only cut smaller things on my work bench. If anything needs ripping, or a bigger board needs cross cutting it has to go to either the chop or table saw. With that, I present my saw bench set!
I can’t take credit for the design, it is a rough copy of Chris Schwarz’s. The one on the right is called a saw bench, and the left is a saw horse. Most saw horses are hip high, so I will call this guy a mini horse! I made the mini horse a lot shorter in length because I didn’t think I needed to be as big. Hopefully I am right! I started by chopping everything to rough length and gluing together two 2x4s for the top of the bench.
The top was then planed smooth, had a vee cut in the front for ripping clearance, and was notched vertically to allow for the legs to have room to inset. My first set of notches were pretty rough, but by the end of this build I had some very clean looking ones. I set all the joints for the legs and the spreaders that ran front to back then assembled. I waited until after the first glue up to make the spreaders that went left to right.
The bench was made over a number of evenings as I made mistakes and tried out different techniques. By the time I got to the mini horse I had a good plan on what to do, and was able to knock out all the joinery in just a few short hours. It turned out a lot better than the bench. I wish I had started with it, then moved onto the bench. You may notice that the top is shorter in the last picture. I realized the extra length isn’t helpful and cut it down.
Once everything was assembled I set about trying to level the legs. I had left the bottom of each leg square and figured I would saw them parallel to the ground once assembled. Each leg has a 10 degree flare with respect to the ground. Trying to saw each leg at 10 degrees once the thing was assembled was a bear. Next time I will not plan to do any sawing on something like this after it is built. Once I did manage to level and set the feet, I applied a coat of boiled linseed oil and called it finished.
I have had trouble explaining how useful these are to people. Words don’t really do it justice, and even pictures don’t tell the full story. I shot a video of me using the bench because of a few conversations I had when people asked what I was building.
As summer sets in here in Central Florida it gets harder to spend time out in the shop. Luckily for me I have a window shaker in my garage. I can keep it at a reasonable temperature in there with the AC on, but can’t run any big tools. Summers are a great time to work on lighter activities such as dovetails. I will use this summer to renovate a pile of saws and drills I have waiting. Some just need sharpening and some need serious rehab. I will call it my Summer Saw Stravaganza!