Building a Sawbench – Part 1

So what’s a sawbench and why should I build one?

A sawbench is basically the grandfather of the sawhorse you are probably familiar with. It was built for using handsaws though, not power saws, so has a couple of major differences

1) It’s lower. Most people saw to measure from below your kneecap to the floor and that’s the length for the legs. I’ve followed this rule

2) The top is a lot wider, so you can put your knee onto it to hold the piece being cut still

I’ve got a nice working set of restored handsaws, and I use them frequently. Until now I’ve always cut at workbench height, but I wanted to build a saw bench so I could really get the best out of them.

I started by gluing up two 2cm thick pine boards because I couldn’t get hold of a single thick piece (my local timber yard is closed until after new year).

Then I planed all the edges square. Make sure you put a chamfer on the corners or you are likely to split the endgrain out. I wanted these slightly rounded anyway so that worked fine.

Next I marked up the rip slot. This is so you can rip short boards with them still supported, although ou can rip long pieces if you keep moving them.

Then I used a forstner bit to drill a hold at the end of the slot to make it rounded. A spade or auger bit will work if that’s all you have available, I just like the clean exit hole the forstner bit leaves.

Then I used a jigsaw with a 65mm straight cut blade on it to cut out the waste.

It’s a bit rough looking so I got to work with a pair of rasps and cleaned it up.

You can see in the above picture that I’ve already marked in where the legs will go. The piece of pine is 90cm long, so I went in 17cm from each end for the outside mark, this should mean the top is well supported.

I marked the bottom of the notches to cut out at 2cm deep, as my legs are 3cm deep and so this should give good support.

The light was getting a bit low when I took this last shot, but I cut the notch out with a tenon saw but making the side cuts, then more thin ones inside the space and cleaning it out with a narrow chisel before using a 1 inch chisel to clean up the base of the notches properly. I did try using a coping saw but I didn’t have much luck with it so changed methods halfway through the first one. All four are now cut out and the top has had a coat of linseed oil so it’s ready for the legs to be built later today or tomorrow.


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