Split top Saw Bench #1: The Idea

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Blog entry by TerryDowning posted 11-06-2013 05:47 PM 4841 reads 13 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Split top Saw Bench series Part 2: The build (wagon vise tops and uprights) »

As a life time wood worker returning to hand tool use, I found my tool set lacking. My dad made me learn hand tools before power tools could be touched, that being said, It’s only been recently that I have returned to hand tools as my primary means of working wood. That being said, I do posses a working set of saws, planes, chisels, etc. The big hole was a stable secure place to hold the wood while working it.

One of the most important and basic tools for hand tool users are benches. You really need a stable platform to handle the torque of the tools under your weight and power to keep your cuts and tool handling safe and accurate. I think a hand tool wood worker needs at least 2 benches a saw bench and a work bench. In order to make the work bench, I’m going to need to do some saw work so I figured I’d start with a saw bench as a warm-up and get a useful beginning to my bench set. I also wanted this saw bench to be able to serve as sort of a mini work bench.

I’ve seen lots of saw benches on LJ some I like, some not. I knew I needed one but wasn’t sure where to start. Until I saw episode 3 of the old timey workshop! by StumpyNubs.

I really liked the apparent versatility of the bench, the relative simplicity of the build, and the fact that I could do this build with all hand tools.

At the same time, I’m also working out in my head a proper full size wood working bench and after seeing shipwright's V-8 powered work bench I knew I wanted to try including those nifty and inexpensive wedge powered vices. I also knew that I needed to practice the joinery used in those so why not make one of the tops for this split top saw bench a wagon vice? This gives me practice for the joinery and I’ll get to see how well it works before I actually commit to a full scale bench. I do deviate from Paul’s design in a few areas but I’m not doing a recreation of Paul’s work, I’m adapting and implementing his idea to my circumstances.

I don’t use sketchup, and rarely make sketches, (especially when it comes to shop fixtures and such) most of the time, the plan is in my head so I don’t have a formal plan to share. Just the idea, and how I got to where I’m at.

For the materials, I had most of it on hand in my pile of cut offs, shorts, and left overs (I hate calling these pieces “scrap”). I found some 2×6 shorts of various length and I also had some old 2×8 Pine bed rails that were just too good to throw away waiting for a project, so I figured I’d finally put them to use. I was still a bit short of material though but found a 4 ft cut off 2×6 in the cull bin at one of the big box stores and for 51 cents I could not pass it up. So far with a purchase of some poplar dowel rod for the draw bore pins and the cut-off I’m less than $5 invested into this build. This is my kind of project already!

The next installment will have some pics and show the start of the build.

-- - Terry

2 comments so far

View terryR's profile


7139 posts in 2309 days

#1 posted 11-06-2013 07:17 PM

Sign me up for the show…snacks ready! :)

Your saw bench is one of my fav’s…lots of uses in a small package.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View AnthonyReed's profile


9717 posts in 2441 days

#2 posted 11-18-2013 08:04 PM

I am late to the show but truly appreciate the time and effort expended to share the build with us.

Thanks Terry.

-- ~Tony

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