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What are you doing next weekend? Wanna build a sawbench and become famous?

We are shooting a DVD on Oct. 16 and 17 on building a sawbench entirely by hand and thought the whole thing would be more lively if we did the shoot in a classroom environment.

So we’re going to do something we’ve never done before: We’re going to hold a class for 12 students here in our workshop in Cincinnati on building a sawbench and film the DVD (which will be out before Christmas).

Crazy? You bet.

This class sells out every time I teach it, and many people have asked us to make a DVD based on the classroom experience. So if you want to learn to saw, need to build a sawbench and want to be part of our DVD, here is your chance.

The class will run on Saturday and Sunday, running 9 a.m. until we finish on both days.

Though we are not a woodworking school (and don’t plan to become one), we do have a shop that is ideal for this class. We have plenty of traditional workbenches (thank you Woodworking in America), plus tons of saws and all the jigs and appliances we use every day for handwork.

We’ll supply lunch each day, and on Saturday night we’ll all go out for dinner somewhere fun and tasty and that has excellent beer. And if we play our cards right, perhaps we can get Megan Fitzpatrick to demonstrate the rigidity of her new bench.

If you’re interested, the class costs $250 plus a $20 materials fee (so $270 total). There is room for 12 students in this class. Once you get registered, we’ll be happy to give you some advice if you need a hotel room.

To register, visit our store here. If you want to know more, keep on reading.
– Christopher Schwarz

Build a Sawbench With Christopher Schwarz
at the Popular Woodworking Magazine Shop in Cincinnati, Ohio
Oct. 16-17, 2010
Price: $250
Materials fee: $20

In a traditional woodworking shop, sawing was reserved for the most highly skilled cabinetmakers on the shop 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 normally would take hours of jig-building and test-cutting on a table saw. And, as a bonus, learning basic sawing prepares your hand, eye and mind to cut any sort of dovetail joint you can imagine.

In my opinion, sawing is one of the most fundamental woodworking skills.

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 motions 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. By the end of the day, you will be able to crosscut and rip accurately with handsaws and backsaws and be ready for dovetail joinery.

During our weekend together we are going to build a sawbench , the single most important appliance needed for sawing with a handsaw and a ripsaw. The project is carefully calculated to teach you the fundamentals of sawing, plus many of the concepts of handwork that are often glossed over in texts, such as the importance of a board’s “datum” surface and the relative unimportance of its “face” side.

Lucky for you (and me), we have a good supply of the tools we will need to learn the skills and complete the sawbench project. Also lucky: I have a saw problem.

I do encourage you to bring your own tools for this class, as learning on your own tools always trumps learning on someone else’s. So without further ado, here are the tools necessary to complete the sawbench. Bring what you can, but don’t worry if you don’t have everything.

Marking and Measuring
Carpenter’s pencil
Mechanical pencil
Marking knife
Try square or combination square (a 6″ model is handiest)
Bird cage awl or brad awl
Sliding bevel gauge
1 or 2 cutting gauges (pin-style marking gauges are OK)

Handsaw (filed crosscut 7pt. or 8 pt.)
Carcase saw (filed crosscut)
Tenon saw (filed rip)
Flush-cut saw
Bench hook
Coping saw

Planes and Chisels
Block plane, smooth plane or jointer plane
1/2″ chisel
1-1/2″ paring chisel
Router plane (such as the Stanley #71)
Large shoulder plane (optional)

Boring and Fastening
Eggbeater drill or small brace (7″ to 8″ sweep)
Brad points
16 oz. claw hammer
Nail set

1 large handscrew
Cabinet rasp

If you have any questions or concerns, send me an e-mail at On the day we start class you will receive a complete packet of information including construction drawings, photos of the setups and tricks we will use, plus text that will guide you through the project so you won’t become lost , and you’ll be able to build a second sawbench with confidence when you return home.

Click here to register.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Janet

    The photo at the top of this blog entry is from Chris’s recent class at the Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro, NC.


  • Sean

    Soon after you did the first iteration of this bench in Woodworking, I built one. The design was somwhat different with the wedged through tenons and shelf, not to mention the bracing at the top of the legs. I’ve found mine very useful.

    While the new version is surely functional and strong enough, I like the old one better.

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