The first stop after leaving the Los Angeles International Airport: the Lowe’s in nearby Hawthorne, Calif. I needed lumber, tools and hardware for my first demonstration at Woodworking in America tomorrow: Build a Sawbench in an Hour.
Buying dimensional lumber on the West Coast is always a shock. About a decade ago, I bought some fir to build a workbench and was amazed at the beautiful clear fir. So thick. So abundant. So… wet. When I ripped it on the table saw, a stream of water hit me in the face. No lie.
So now I know to read the signs with care – many places sell the stuff either green or kiln-dried.
This Lowe’s had a great selection of dimensional fir in sizes I cannot buy in the Midwest, including a 4×12 x 8’. Two of those would make a nice workbench top.
But I was there to buy lumber for two sawbenches. I briefly considered 4x8s for the top, but they looked pretty beat up. The 4×6 material, on the other hand, was clear, straight and dry.
So I bought that for the top, plus some kiln-dried 2x4s for the legs and 1×8 pine for the gussets. So far, so good. Until I got the stuff to the rental car.
I needed to crosscut the parts to fit in the trunk. So out came two 5-gallon buckets to serve as ersatz sawbenches and my Stanley SharpTooth saw. You know what happens next. The locals stop to watch the crazy guy handsawing in the parking lot. So I got a good warm-up on my demo for the WIA.
I also noticed that my SharpTooth was getting dull, so I ducked back into the Lowe’s and found a new one – the 15-088. It had a wooden handle (for a four-finger grip, unfortunately) and the handle was actually nicely rounded off. Heck they already removed the lower horn for me at the factory.
Still, this is a great USA-made saw for $20. The only thing I don’t care for is the fact that the teeth are induction-hardened, so you cannot refile the teeth – they are too dang hard. I’m going to cut my old one up and make some scrapers. I can’t stand to throw tools away.
So now I’m sitting at my hotel watching a thunderstorm roll in over Pasadena. Waiting for the beer to get cold.
— Christopher Schwarz
Be sure to stop by Woodworking in America this weekend at the Pasadena Convention Center – three days of wood-nerdery taken to the highest level possible.
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