Day 1: My first project...EVER.... sheesh....

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Forum topic by JamieH posted 09-27-2010 06:16 AM 1218 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 2793 days

09-27-2010 06:16 AM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner project sawhorse tip question

Hey guys, new guy here. 35 years old and fired up about woodworking. I have been reading online, magazines, books, catalogs, etc. for the past year or so. Finally decided to start my first project. As far as tools go, I have a circular saw, 1 pipe clamp, 1 F clamp, a combo square, a metal straight edge, a bevel gauge, a cordless drill, some bits..thats about it. VERY limited room, I have no workbench.

SO, I figured I should start simple. I have the “Projects for your Shop” book by Michael Teague, and assumed the sawhorse project would be a good starter project, plus would be good to use since I dont have much room. Went to the local big box store and bought some 2×4s, and some plywood.

First off, I needed to make the circular saw guide-jig out of 3/4” MDF and 1/4” MDF. Hmm, what to use for a bench? Well, I have a 16” high bench seat my father in law made for us out of joined 2×4s. It sits under the back porch. I guess thats going to have to work. Yes, 16 INCHES high. A few circular saw cuts later (gotta love the tearout at the end of the cut) , and I was screwing the two pieces together. I thought 1 inch drywall screws would work. Well, as the screws got close to termination, the pieces of wood would separate. A call to my father later, who said I should pre drill the top wood piece (which I then did), and the pieces still didnt hold. Not enough screw to bite into bottom piece, I think. So I countersunk the top piece holes, and they held, but now the screws stick out of the bottom. Not a good thing obviously. But heck, these are for saw horses, and I’ve spent over an hour on this guide. Those screws wont hurt the sawhorse wood. On to the sawhorses.

Using a pipe clamp to clamp the three 2×4s together, and a F clamp to clamp the pieces to my “workbench”, I began cutting the legs to rough length. The legs are supposed to be 33” I cut them to 35-36” to give me some wiggle room. After cutting the legs, I was done for the day as daylight was almost out. So, here are my thoughts and questions after day one:

1-I HAVE to get a workbench. I almost broke my back working on something thats only 16” high.

2- I need more clamps. Two don’t cut it even for something simple.

3-For joining two layers of wood, what size screws should you use? a screw thats < total thickness and use a countersink? one thats equal like I attempted? Where did i go wrong on my technique? How deep do you countersink the holes?

4-I realize a chop saw could have made my legs cutting MUCH easier. I WANTED to be a more “hand tool guy” and here on the first project I’m yearning for powertools. Which I have no room to put anywhere.

5-Not having support under the plywood caused the tearout at the end of a few cuts. Man some sawhorses sure would be handy. LOL.

6-What is cut to “rough length”? Within an inch? two? three?

Hope I didn’t ramble too much…any help, comments would be greatly appreciated. I’m sure I will have tons more questions….

3 replies so far

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3768 days

#1 posted 09-27-2010 06:37 AM

Congratulations! You have completed your firts project ever. We all built one of those.There are many more enjoyable projects to come. Have fun and do not be up set if you make mistakes along the way. That is part of wood working. Maybe no one else will notice but you know they are there. Enjoy, be safe and you will like this site.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2977 days

#2 posted 09-27-2010 07:04 AM

Welcome to Lumber Jocks Jamie, and the world of woodworking. I would suggest maybe making a portable workbench in the form of a sawhorse that would be of a more comfortable height for you. You could make it much wider to work with and a tray below to help stabilize the legs and a place to keep tools near by that would allow to put into a corner out of the way.

The ol saying is you can never have enough clamps. So don’t be afraid to pick up clamps here and there to add to your collection. You’d be surprised how quick they add up. One clamp you may get would be a band clamp, these ratchet and come in handy. Pipe clamps are also fairly reasonable to find as are the F clamps.

Match your screw size to the material your working with. Counter sinking depends on if you just want the screw heads flush or if your going to plug them will also determine the length of screw you need. Try to find a screw chart this will help you when your planning a project. I predrill about 3/4 of the length of the screws depth depending on counter sinking depth.

As for the chop saw its nice to have, but you can make your circle saw work by making cutting jigs for your saw and there are plans for circular saw jigs that work like a miter saw.
Also buy some finer tooth blades to give a smoother cut when cutting boards or sheet goods. Put 2×4’s under the plywood will help with getting smoother end cuts.

As for rough cut for me its about a 1/2” extra when rough cutting to length.

A piece of advise don’t get discouraged during the learning process the more you do the better you will get. Whatever else don’t be afraid to ask questions no matter how dumb they may seem.

Once again Welcome to Lumber Jocks.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View plantek's profile


312 posts in 2793 days

#3 posted 09-27-2010 03:13 PM

Way to go! Keep it up and don’t get discouraged.
The best general advice I can give is to get familiar with all the info that’s on the web., Woodworkers Journal, Wood Whisperer, Fine Woodworking, American Woodworker…etc.
Find one article related to something you want to know and read it. Take to time to set time aside for a article or two and be faithful to that time. Don’t worry about not having all the tools you need because no matter how many tools you have you will always need/want more… it’s just that way. The tools will come as you need them.
Have fun and be safe!

K. Plante

-- If you want it and it's within reason... It's on it's way!

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