Saw Bench Pt 1 – Rubbed Raw

The second project in the Hand Tool School is to build a saw bench. Considering I’m currently sawing all my wood from waist level surfaces, this a definitely a necessity. Shannon’s uses a design that is basically a 5 board bench, except it’s actually 6 boards because it has a ripping notch all the way through. He bought some pine from a big box store so all he really had to do is cut to the dimensions and build. As much as I’d love to do the same to save time,  I’m not gonna spend money where I don’t have to. I have a crap ton of red oak right now, all rough and ranging from 4/4-6/4.

Did I mention this was rough lumber? I’m not just talking about it not being surfaced, I mean full of cups, twists, bows and some worm holes. I can’t really complain though. A guy I work with got me about 130 for $50 from his fathers saw mill in MS! That’s about $.38 a bdft! Plus I got a good amount of quarter sawn lumber as well.

Anyhow, back to the saw bench. Taking a look at all my lumber, I initially thought I’d stick with trying make it out of one board. It turned out not being long enough so I picked out a few boards for the project. Most of the pieces I have that are 4/4 are about 6″ wide but I needed a piece at least 10″ wide for what would end up being the sides/legs. I have some 5/4 in the width so I figured I’d use that. After determining the height, I crosscut my pieces and got ready to flatten them. These are the first boards I’ve actually flattened. I have and use a Stanley #4 and #5 for lighter work, but recently got a #7 on eBay early last week. Shop gear is always the best to learn on so I went at it full force.

Not to bad for my first flattening. Getting the twist out for the boards was the biggest pain. Luckily, the winding sticks I made a couple weeks back really paid off. Now I don’t have a marking gauge right now (but do have a Tite-Mark on order and should be delivered today) so I wasn’t concerned about making the opposite side completely parallel, just mostly parallel and flat. I did measure and mark, and everything is pretty square so I think I’ll be good. With the boards finish, I walk away with one thing on my mind… I need a scrub plane! I used my jack for most of the roughing but my hands definitely paid for it.

Next I decided to work on the tops. Shannon used some 5/4 for a little thicker support but I figured I go even thicker! The useable part of this board is really about 6/4. That was about how cupped the 10″ board was.

Ripping was no fun! I have a Disston 5.5 ppi rip saw that I of course got on eBay along with some other saws, but they are not sharp. I bough a crappy little saw from Home Depot to get me by until my saw files and tooth setter come in hopefully this week but did I mention it’s a crosscut saw. I’ve always heard you can’t crosscut with a rip but you can rip with a crosscut so I said what the heck. I really want this to be 100% handmade so I refused to use my table saw. At about 10 min of sawing, I really began to consider it though.

(You like my high speed face vice?) I finished in about 15-20 min and my arm felt dead but I do have to say I did great on tracking the cut. Once I was done, I took a look at the boards and they were a lot thicker in the center than what I had measured on the edge of the boards. Not looking forward to getting those parallel.

I ended the night by flattening just one face of each board. I have never used a hand plane so much and by that time I developed about 3 blister on my right hand and one on my left plus my skin just felt raw. That was my clue to end it for the night. Sides are done, tops are started and I’ve got a nice pile of shavings to boot.

2 thoughts on “Saw Bench Pt 1 – Rubbed Raw

  1. Looking good Dan. I applaud you for sticking to the no power route on this project. It is simple enough and the parts small enough that it is really do-able for anyone just starting out with power tools. Sounds like you need to skip ahead a few lessons and watch the saw sharpening lesson so you can stop working so hard. Great post and thanks for sharing.

    1. Just finished the sharpening lesson. My files are setters are scheduled for delivery tomorrow! I’ll be making a shop made saw vise for now but definitely plan on getting the Gramercy vise later down the road. First sharpening will definitely be the rip saw!

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