When I am deep into a sawcut, you could walk into the shop totally naked, on fire and covered with leprous monkeys, and I probably wouldn’t notice.
Accurate sawing is tantric. It’s a rhythm. It is meditation.
Today I was sawing the legs to length for this Roubo workbench and I was surrounded by mahem. We had a photographer in the shop shooting photos. All the overhead lights were out and there were wild flashes and beeps every minute or so. We had a guest in the shop learning woodworking. Router. Circ saw. Benchtop table saw. Jigsaw. Animated conversation. And we’re trying to close the June 2010 issue of the magazine and there is a lot of torn hair on the floor.
I finished cutting a 5″ x 5″ leg to 33″ with a handsaw. I split the line on all four faces. I was feeling no pain, and I was hearing the sound of one hand clapping. But then I heard this:
“What are you doing working so hard?”
I looked over at our guest, who was learning all the hand-held power tools today. I opened my mouth to explain, and then I knew what it must feel like to wear a saffron robe and live in a cave without speaking for a decade. I couldn’t explain it.
But for you, dear reader, I can explain a couple things.
1. My block plane was not cleaved in thrain by epoxy yesterday. That staged photo was my sick sense of humor leaching through my training as a journalist. I’d apologize for the misunderstanding, but we Midwesterners apologize for anything at the drop of a hat. So it would be meaningless.
2. Here’s how to saw a 6×6. Start sawing on a corner as per usual. Immediately lay down the saw to cut at a low angle across the uppermost face. Saw until you have traversed the face. Rotate the stock 90Ã?Â° away from you. Put the saw in the kerf and advance on the face that is now uppermost. After a few strokes, lay down the saw again and traverse the line facing up. A low sawing angle is less aggressive, but it is more accurate.
Flip the work 90Ã?Â° away from you again. Do the same routine. Start at the corner. Lay down the saw. Traverse the face. When you finish that face, move the saw to 45Ã?Â° and saw like crazy. Throw the handle like you would a baseball pitch. Don’t use much downward pressure. Let the tool do the work.
When you have sawn from corner to corner, flip the leg 90Ã?Â° away from you one last time. Connect the saw kerfs by laying down the saw. Then return to 45Ã?Â° and finish the cut.
If you take your time, I think you’ll find this technique crazily accurate and weirdly fast.
– Christopher Schwarz
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