Workbench Challenge #3: Ripping the Pieces Without a Tablesaw

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-24-2013 01:09 AM 4607 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Getting Started and the Plans Part 3 of Workbench Challenge series Part 4: Fitting "from the work" and cutting the notches »

Warning, entry level instructions.

Additional note Of course if you have a table saw, ..... use it and disregard this segment.

When I left off I had dry fitted the dog hole logs so next up before we start all the ripping we should glue them up. First of course you have to cut off the pieces P from the ends of the short dog hole strips M and N.
The best way to make sure the holes line up is to put some dowels or whatever in a couple of the holes while you glue and screw them. I happened to have the Gramercy holdfasts that I’m going to use in the bench on hand so no better line up jigs. I’m using screws instead of clamps because I’m trying to keep the tool list as small and affordable as possible. I do have better tools for these jobs you know.

I think most will recognize the clamps that I am using as the famous $2.00 HF plastic bar clamps. I love them. Yes, they break sometimes but I just buy a few extras.

Now on to ripping all that plywood with the $1.50 table saw. Because of the sequence of grooving and separating and more grooving in the dog hole strips, I cut to lines spaced about the kerf of my skilsaw blade.
For a lot of strips that kind of layout is not only time consuming but prone to inaccuracy so here’s the way I cut these strips to be identical.

There are lots of 3 1/2” strips so I’ll use them as an example. First , lay out a mark 3 1/2” from a factory edge and then make a little nick freehand with the skilsaw just on the line but outside it. Line a piece of scrap up with the outside of the kerf and mark a square line on it at the edge of the sheet.

Glue another little piece of scrap on exactly at the line.

You now have a guide to setup as many identical 3 1/2” cuts as you want. Just butt the cutting jig against it at each end and clamp. Check both ends once more and then cut off the strip. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. .... You get it.

This is another way that works if you only have a few but if you have more and you’re like me you will inadvertently use the square for something in the middle of it all and have to try to get it back exactly where it was again.

When you get too close to the edge for clamping, use a screw.

When you get really close use a screw and a piece of scrap to support the cutting jig. Don’t worry if the screw mushrooms the MDF a little. This isn’t the guide line, it’s the cut line. What you do have to watch is that the screw itself doesn’t infringe on the line.

Make a cut list or print out the sheet from the SU and strike off the pieces cut.

When you finish one of the sheet quarters, lay out the pieces like the plan to check it.

I didn’t take any photos of the cross cutting as I was doing it freehand to the lines and didn’t have a hand for the camera. It’s pretty easy that way but by all means, make a little guide if you don’t feel confident freehand.

So now almost all the pieces are cut, except for the curved ones. Next up will be cutting the notches for the half laps and maybe some assembly.

Thanks for looking in


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

6 comments so far

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2661 days

#1 posted 11-24-2013 01:25 AM

Hi Paul
This is a interesting way of building and kind of reminds me of working on site with limited tools available.
Make thinks work with what you have with you and get it done but don’t sacrifice quality .
This looks good and ingenious .
I will stay tuned
Thanks for your time going into this and it is much appreciated !

-- Kiefer

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10091 posts in 4046 days

#2 posted 11-24-2013 03:51 AM

Very good… I got it… :)

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3328 days

#3 posted 11-24-2013 10:09 AM

I hope a lot of entry level woodworkers will watch this Blog Paul so they can build themselves a decent workbench. Along the way they will also learn a lot about how to get great results with typical DIY tools, which is what most of us hobbyists started with. I’m sure those of us with more experience will pick up some good ideas along the way too. I applaud your generosity in sharing your skills with us.

Your way of showing this build is in stark contrast to many of the wood magazines with their experts demonstrating how to build things with a vast array of very expensive tools, but with the projects themselves at a beginners level. Very unrealistic and it makes folks think that they need all those fancy tools to build anything.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3455 days

#4 posted 11-24-2013 03:35 PM

Ditto on Mike’s comments. I quit subscribing to any woodworking Magazines years ago for that reason.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2533 days

#5 posted 11-25-2013 03:13 PM

I’m loving this Paul, keep it up!

-- I never finish anyth

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3155 days

#6 posted 11-30-2013 08:05 PM

Yeah. Exactly what Mike said.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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