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Thread: Sawbench

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Sawbench

    I thought I would share my building of a sawbench for my shop. A sawbench is different from a sawhorse mainly in the width and height of its top. The low & wide surface helps you to handsaw boards by allowing you to secure the board with your foot or knee. All my bench surfaces and sawhorses are of a much higher height and I felt that I needed a lower surface for some of things I was trying to do. Besides we all need some place to sit while we are pretending to be "working in the shop"!

    This sawbench that I am building is based on the one Harry Strasil designed in his tutorial over at SMC. Check out his detailed tutorial that was posted around July of 2006. This will not be a tutorial, but me demonstrating part of process I will be going through as I build one. For a different type of sawbench, check out the one that Chris Schwartz builds in the Autumn 2006 copy of Woodworking Magazine and is also shown in his blog. Chris considers his version a "traditional English form". I guess that makes Harry's a traditional American form. If you are unfamiliar with Harry Strasil, I suggest to check his postings at SMC. He is a wealth of information on traditional methods of woodworking (using tools with no tails). He is also a blacksmith and posts to a blacksmith forum.

    Here a sketch of the sawbench I will be building

    Click image for larger version. 

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    It will be 20" high. I will maintain that height, but the width and length may change slightly as I proceed. You will notice that the legs are splayed out for stability. Based on Harry's design it is splayed out 10 degrees.


    It is getting late and I will post more tomorrow as I show how I surfaced the malcontent board that will be my top. This board did not appreciate the warm and cozy shop I stored it in and decided to warp. This will be done with hand tools!

    I must warn you that after tomorrow's post my progress will slow quite a bit because of my tendency to bite off more than I can chew. I have a more urgent chore (see my kitchen cabinet post) that I must complete, but I will try to sneak in work on the sawbench when the wife is not looking.

    You see, the sawbench is NOT on the "honey do list".

  2. #2
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    That looks like a good project for someone to try their hand tool skills on. This'll be a fun one to watch.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
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    Nov 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Satko View Post
    ... Besides we all need some place to sit while we are pretending to be "working in the shop"!
    ...

    DOH. That's what the LazyBoy is for

    --------------------------------------------
    Link to my ongoing ClearVue DC Install on CV's site: http://www.gallery2.clearvuecyclones...s-Mini-CV1400/

  4. #4
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    Doug,

    I am confused. That is too pretty to be a workbench! But if it is...nice place to have it! Oh yeah...nice shot of the scraper plane.

  5. #5
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    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
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    [QUOTE=Doug Shepard;116255]DOH. That's what the LazyBoy is for

    I though it was the lazy boy the laid in the recliner.

    Hi Bill. It looks like you plan on a little hand eye coordination training.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Satko View Post
    Doug,

    I am confused. That is too pretty to be a workbench! But if it is...nice place to have it! Oh yeah...nice shot of the scraper plane.
    I'm confuseder. There's pics over here on the bench and how I came to be working on it indoors last winter.
    http://familywoodworking.org/forums/...ead.php?t=9313

    Sorry for derailing the thread.
    --------------------------------------------
    Link to my ongoing ClearVue DC Install on CV's site: http://www.gallery2.clearvuecyclones...s-Mini-CV1400/

  7. #7
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    Bellingham
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    Sawbench, the linchpin of the next few months...

    Before I post the progress I have made on the sawbench, I feel a little background is needed on why this project is so important right now. When Larry & Randi Merlau came over to our house last month, Larry and I ended up in my shop/garage. Kind of obvious, what woodworker would not check out another's shop? If he was not interested, you would be rushing him to the hospital or something!!! As I was showing him around, I was pointing out the flaws in my space. Foremost was the lack of a true hand tool bench which really limited the direction my woodworking was going. My intent was to build one, but I had been stymied as to where to put it. Larry instantly suggested under the window where currently resides a bank of kitchen cabinet lowers that I was storing a lot of tools. Well, I just as instantly dismissed his suggestion with some reason why I couldn't get rid of that storage space.

    Sometimes you live with a situation so long, you lose the ability to look at it in a different way. It takes a stranger without your history (baggage) to offer up what should be really obvious. Larry & Randi left and about a day or two later with Larry's suggestion still bouncing around in my brain, I realized he found the solution to making my shop realize its full potential. Everything fell into place. I was allowing the prime real estate in my shop to be taken up by storage. It was not a work bench, but a place to store tools. I realized that with some creative rearranging, I could find other room for the storage.

    Now all of you with small or modest size shops realize that you don't just move things around. It takes a elaborate dance that is intricately choreographed to make it happen. If I move A over here then I need to build something so that B won't be in the way, but that means I need to do something with C and ... You get the picture.

    Trust me on this (it will all become clear in the months ahead) this is the start of a shop transformation.

    Thanks Larry!
    Last edited by Bill Satko; 08-27-2008 at 07:46 PM.

  8. #8
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    Bill,
    my little shop is just coming together, and I absolutely can identify with the 'move A so B can fit here' thing. I'm more of a normite than a galoot, but I'm looking forward to seeing the sawbench progress.
    -Ned

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Constantine, MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Satko View Post
    Sometimes you live with a situation so long, you lose the ability to look at it in a different way. It takes a stranger without your history (baggage) to offer up what should be really obvious. Larry & Randi left and about a day or two later with Larry's suggestion still bouncing around in my brain, I realized he found the solution to making my shop realize its full potential. Everything fell into place. I was allowing the prime real estate in my shop to be taken up by storage. It was not a work bench, but a place to store tools. I realized that with some creative rearranging, I could find other room for the storage.

    Now all of you with small or modest size shops realize that you don't just move things around. It takes a elaborate dance that is intricately choreographed to make it happen. If I move A over here then I need to build something so that B won't be in the way, but that means I need to do something with C and ... You get the picture.

    Trust me on this (it will all become clear in the months ahead) this is the start of a shop transformation.

    Thanks Larry!
    That is soooo weird - I was just minutes ago looking at a drawing of my shop layout thinking I devote too much space to storage and that there must be a better way to lay things out. I'll be watching your progress, believe me! I have enough on my plate right now to keep me very busy till June, but I can see myself setting aside a month or two to do some serious rearranging next fall.
    Host of the 2017 Family Woodworking Gathering - Sunken Wood

    “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk
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  10. #10
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    Flattening the tops of the sawbenches

    You may notice the plural in the posting title. No mistake, I am preparing enough stock to build two sawbenches. I will not be building the the second one right away, but I figured I would get the drudgery of stock preparation for both out of the way.

    A few weeks ago I went to one of the local lumber stores and hand selected the best 2" x 10" x 8' doug fir I could find (about 3 sticks). I could tell by its weight that it still retained a lot of moisture. Three weeks is probably not enough time to become fully acclimated to the shop, but I guess I got impatient. They were very straight without any warp to them. I can not say that now. They definitely twisted & cupped. I rough cut by hand the lengths for two tops out of the board with the least defects. I also cut out the lengths for the legs (roughly 24" long). It just happens that I will be able to cut out two legs in one 24" section by sawing diagonally, but I will not separate the two legs until I have flattened and dimensioned the stock. It will become clear in a later post when I get that far.

    Now I could have cut these sections in no time at all by firing up the electrons, but I am trying to slow down and enjoy the journey. Not to say that I am going to carry this two far, I will be using machines in some places. In fact I am only going to use hand planes to flatten one side enough to run it through my planer to get it to the correct thickness.

    Honest truth is that I need more practice at hand sawing. Funny how I got away from it, but it does not take long for the muscle memory to come back. I wish I could say the same about the muscle endurance! I took a few breaks.

    Ok now it is time to make some wood shavings!

    Below is one of the tops securely fastened in my top of the line bench.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I have created a lot of wood mulch on that bench, but it takes a very special technique. First you need to be able to plane with one foot on the benches' lower shelf and you need to take a light cut or you will be chasing it around the shop. I always wear my running shoes...just in case it gets away from me. I use to plane on it with the garage door open, but one day I looked up from fighting a piece of wood and I was half down the drive way. Kinda embarrassing.

    On to the task at hand. You will notice two winding sticks sitting on the board. Also you will notice that I have shims placed at one corner. You will not get it flat and level if the board is rocking on the bench. It also needs to be fully supported. You know what happens when you put a board with warp into power planer, same thing here. My experience is that you will deflect the board down while hand planing and then it will bounce back, just like in a power planer.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    On to the next post for the rest of the story
    Last edited by Bill Satko; 08-28-2008 at 03:59 PM.

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