The Saw Vise #3: The Aftermath

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Blog entry by Tomcat1066 posted 02-11-2008 04:43 PM 1240 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Finished! Part 3 of The Saw Vise series no next part

I noticed that I focused a lot on the negative lessons I learned building this thing, and that’s not fair. There was a lot of positive to be remembered as well. Now that all is said and done, I figure now is a good time to reflect on the positive a bit, and the positive that came out of the negative as well.

1. It looks like the blasted thing works! A saw vise is, ultimately, a tool. As such, looks are great, but function is most important. So far, it looks like it’ll work for me just fine. As a first project, I’m just happy it didn’t end up as firewood.

2. I learned stuff from this. Mistakes happen. What seperates good from bad is what you take away from those mistakes. Taking my time is important, but other lessons were there too.

3. I didn’t get frustrated and toss the thing because I goofed. That was a hurdle in the past. I’d get angry and walk away for a bit, but then move on to something else. This time, I stayed the course and ended up with what I wanted…a functional saw vise!

4. I learned what I still need to learn. There were a few things I wanted to do that didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. That just means I need to learn those skills a bit better. So far, not many skills, but this was a simple project.

5. As a hand tool guy, I have to be happy that the only tools that let me down were power tools. In defense of the power tool guys, these were crappy power tools. The reason I mention this is that I was planing read oak with a 90-100 year old block plane like it was butter. I did very little messing with this plane, just a sharpening Saturday night, and it performed VERY well. However, my $15 block plane from Tractor Supply Company did a great job on the pine.

6. Like many woodworkers, I’m my own worse critic. I see every flaw and error on my vise. None of them affect the function one bit, but they’re purely aesthetic issues. They glare to me. However, they don’t seem to look that bad to most. Understanding this means that I’ll have to prevent “perfect” being the enemy of “good enough”, so long as “good enough” really is. If others see the errors, it’s not. If I see them…well, I’ll always see them. Won’t I?

7. Get some lithium batteries for my digital camera. That blasted thing eats batteries like I eat M&M’s or something. It’s scary how fast it kills batteries. Hopefully, some good lithiums will fix that, and I can have pics of me actually working on something!

8. Measurements are my friends. Really, that’s where my goofs mainly rest, a laziness to actually measure. Had I done that, I’d probably be happier with the results.

Tomorrow, my files and sawsets should be here, then I can really see how well this puppy works. I’m hopeful that it will do what I want, and I believe it will. However, it’s most important function was sucessfully accomplished. I’m a woodworker now…not just some guy who fixes up old tools! A novice woodworker, sure, but a woodworker none the less.

This was the first step. Anyone’s first step is usually a bit shaky. I remember reading about Chris Schwarz’s first project, a tool tote that was less than stellar as he described it. Everyone has a first project that’s less than grand I’m sure. This is mine. And, like Chris Schwarz’s tool tote, it’s functional. That, in my mind, is a huge victory. I didn’t create firewood, I created a saw vise. What else really matters?

-- "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!

5 comments so far

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3205 days

#1 posted 02-11-2008 04:47 PM

Cool, it’s always good to look back and record lessons learned, especially when you’re just starting out.

-- Eric at

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 3276 days

#2 posted 02-11-2008 06:09 PM

I think a large part of what I enjoy about wood working with power or hand tools, is
the making of mistakes and then fixing. Or inversely, finding new ways to make the
same mistake and trying to find a fix. It’s like a never-ending cycle for me. But an
enjoyable one nonetheless.

When it gets to a critical point, I’ll take a break and come back to it with a level
head (or as close as I can get to level).

I don’t do commissions, so am never under a strict time line for finishing something.
This allows me the time to work through ‘problems’ at my own pace and in my own

-- Still learning everything

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3582 days

#3 posted 02-11-2008 07:59 PM

that’s a great list!
“measurements are my friends” oh right… precision.. take your time… I think I got it…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3243 days

#4 posted 02-11-2008 08:21 PM

Way to go Tomcat. Your last statement says it all. The bottom line is that you started with a concept, completed the design and completed the construction and engineering phases. Now you have a functional piece that you have created from a jumble of wood, screws and bolts. You could have given up anywhere along the way but your perseverance and patience came through and you completed the piece. That is really what is important about this work. (It also helps that it does do what you designed it for). Again way to go Tomcat.

Woooo Hoooooo!!!!!

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3217 days

#5 posted 02-11-2008 08:45 PM

Thanks folks! I guess I’m pretty proud of it, all things considered. A bench hook would have been a MUCH easier project, don’t you think? ;)

-- "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!

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