Chris Schwarz's Blog

New Handsawing Classes in Michigan and Portland

Thanks to the maturing of my two daughters (and the waning of the “Days of Dark Diapers”), I’ve decided to teach two more rounds of handsawing classes in 2008 , two one-day classes in Sterling Heights, Mich.; and a one-week intensive class at the Northwest Woodworking Studio in Portland, Ore.

As of now, there are spaces available in all of these three classes. Here are the details and link to the schools where you can register:

Hand-cut Dovetails
Saturday, March 15
Woodcraft, Sterling Heights, Mich.
To register, send an email to: sterlingheights-retail@woodcraft.com or call 586-268-1919.

Learn to saw dovetails by hand while building a cherry Shaker silverware tray with through-dovetails. You’ll learn to lay out your dovetails so they look nice, saw them accurately, chisel out the waste quickly, and fit them right the first time (plus, how to hide any mistakes). This is a great class for first-time dovetailers or anyone who has struggled to learn this classic hand-cut joint.

The Forgotten Art of Handsawing
Sunday, March 16
Woodcraft, Sterling Heights, Mich.
To register, send an email to: sterlingheights-retail@woodcraft.com or call 586-268-1919.

In this class, you’ll learn to use handsaws and backsaws to track a line like a bloodhound. With a series of special exercises, you will learn to make the three different classes of sawcuts: rough cutting for dimensioning stock, standard cutting for final sizing of casework pieces and fine cutting for precision joinery. You’ll learn the proper stance, grip and body motion for accurate sawcuts and receive the instant feedback and corrections from an instructor that will make you develop your skills quickly. You will also build a basic sawbench – the most important workshop appliance for handsaws.

Handsawing, Handsaws and Sawbenches
July 14-18
Northwest Woodworking Studio, Portland, Ore.

In a traditional shop, sawing was reserved for the most skilled cabinetmakers on the floor. Most anyone could use a plane or chisel, but it was the sawyers who transformed the timber into furniture with rips, crosscuts and joinery.

And though we now have accurate power equipment in our workshops, sawing by hand is still a tremendous skill that , when done properly — can save time and effort. That’s because handsawing can be done without jigs or guides and without regard to the angle of the cut or its bevel. In short, if you can see the line, you can cut the line with a handsaw.

Honing this simple skill allows you to easily cut compound angles, angled joinery and cuts that might take hours of jig-building and test-cutting on a table saw. And, as a bonus, learning basic sawing trains your hand, eye and mind to cut any sort of dovetail joint you can imagine.

In this class, you’ll learn to use handsaws and backsaws to cut joints as precisely as any power tool. With a series of special exercises, you will learn to make the three different classes of sawcuts: rough cutting for dimensioning stock, standard cutting for final sizing of casework pieces and fine cutting for precision joinery.

You’ll learn the proper stance, grip and body motions for accurate sawcuts and receive the instant feedback and corrections that will make you develop your skills quickly. During the first part of the class you will build a basic sawbench , the most important workshop appliance for handsaws , and a bench hook , the most important appliance for wielding a backsaw.

With your appliances built and your handsaw skills in place, we’ll dive into dovetails during the second half of the week. We’ll explore both English and Continental styles of making this joint (both are valid) so you can find the approach that is right for your work. And at the end of the week we’ll build a simple dovetailed Shaker silverware tray.

– Christopher Schwarz

2 thoughts on “New Handsawing Classes in Michigan and Portland

  1. Ron

    Chris; what are the chances of teaching a class down here in Arizona? Say some winter (wouldn’t want you to blister your fingers grabbing the metal parts of your saw during the summer).

    I figure the more I learn about hand tools the fewer trips I’ll make to the ER due to my power tool experiments. 🙂

    Consider it a humanitarian gesture.

    Bring some southern yellow pine while you’re at it.

  2. Barry Johnson

    This may be a sure sign that like tools entirely too much. In the top picture the three saws are the W&S Seaton style dovetail saw, the Gramercy Tools Dovetail saw, and the LN DT.

    Glad to see your doing more classes, hopfully in the future you’ll do some on the east coast (Philly… HINT, HINT)

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