Ripping boards by hand is a lot like working. And so I’m always looking for different techniques (other than buying a Bowflex machine and steroids) to do it with less effort.
This weekend I was re-reading Fred T. Hodgson’s amazingly opinionated book on saws: “Hand Saws: Their Use, Care and Abuse.” You can download the 1909 version for free from Gary Roberts’s excellent archive at Toolemera.com. Have you been to that site? I highly recommend it.
Back to the point, I stumbled onto a passage on ripping by hand on page 31 that I had forgotten. Here it is:
The French workman sometimes places his plank on the sawhorses and starts his saw in the usual way, and then he gets behind the saw and sits astride the stuff, and cuts the plank with the saw-teeth pointing away from him. He grasps the saw with both hands, and follows up his work by keeping moving forward after the saw. I have seen Germans use the rip-saw this way with success, and have tried it myself with satisfaction.
Let’s see, I get to sit down while ripping? What could be better? (Aside from someone feeding me Ho-Hos during the operation.) This morning I gave it a try. You need to get the saw fairly far into the plank before you get to sit down. I went about 12″ and then assumed the French position. Steering the saw is a little different, but you catch on after a few strokes.
All in all, I quite like the technique.
However, I wasn’t too fond of ramming my soft bits into the wedge shown in the photo above. I wonder if Lee Valley Tools sells athletic supporters.
– Christopher Schwarz
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