I finally got sick of waiting until I actually had a shop to start making some stuff. Yesterday, I broke down and bought a workmate, some hardware, some pine, and a bit of red oak. Why? Easy. I’m building a saw vise. Being a hand tool kind of guy, I knew I would need this either now or later. Since my saws are all fairly dull, and I’ve ordered some files, handles and saw sets from Tools for Working Wood, I figured now was as good a time as ever.
The basic plan for this is from one on the Norse Woodsmith website. There are a few modifications, but I can discuss that in greater detail after it’s built. I will say a few electrons were sacrificed for the greater good. Since my hand saws are all pretty dull, and I need the vise to make them un-dull (is that even a word?), I don’t feel bad about it. Besides…these may be among the last electrons to die at my hands!
So far though, there are a few important lessons I have learned so far.
1. My circular saw sucks. I know Black & Decker isn’t known for being the workhorse brand for woodworkers or anything, but when it can’t rip 4/4 pine? Something is seriously wrong. Luckily, I was able to plane away the nasty marks left from me having to attack it at a different angle.
2. The Workmate ain’t so bad after all. Don’t get me wrong, there was a couple of issues, but it worked, was cheap, and I folded it up and put it in the back of my Jeep Grand Cherokee which I couldn’t do with a Roubo bench, that’s for sure. I can see the appeal of these things. Even after my primary bench is completed, this bad boy can still get plenty of use. I’m actually surprised so far. I wouldn’t want to plane large boards on it right now, but all in all, a solid investment for the time being.
3. Planes ROCK! I have a cheapie block plane I bought at Tractor Supply Company. That thing was actually pretty darn impressive. There were shavings produced that light was visible through. Not to bad for a $15 plane, now is it? Just imagine what I could have done with a Lie-Nielsen!
4. Hand tools ROCK! Yeah, big shock that I feel this way, but it’s true. When I’m able to talk to my 6 year old son about what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it a certain way, what more can you want? Not only that, but then I can let my son try his hand at planing and watch him as he sees light through a shaving HE made!
5. Run power tools more just to keep neighbors away. My next door neighbor and her granddaughter (who’s a year or so younger than my son) just walked over while I’m operating a big, loud, whirling blade of death™ and, as soon as I was done, decided to strike up a conversation. That threw me behind. All I got done was the cutting of the legs, and I put a chamfer on the sides of the legs. Still, tomorrow should be pretty straight forward with cutting the jaws, then assembly and testing. I’m really looking forward to completing this project…my first!
I don’t have pics of the process today, but Jennifer said she’d take pics of me and Robby working tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to share them with you all when they’re finished. Truth be told, I had a blast. And, while planing the chamfers, Jennifer even got in on the action and tried her hand at it. That would never have happened with power tools.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with power tools. Both power tools and hand tools serve their owners well. Me though? I’ll still to hand tools. I loved making my hobby into family time, even if just for a moment.
-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!