Someone Call a Pitsawyer
The following is unfiltered, mostly unedited and likely unreadable. But this is what I do.
Today I launched headfirst into building this Roubo workbench. First up: Dress the legs. Well, the four legs look worse now than when I sawed them up. One leg looks OK from the front. On two legs, some checking has progressed to the point that I’m worried about their long-term life. The fourth leg is punky and is likely a loss.
I set the legs aside. I have a plan to replace them with some 4×4 Douglas fir fence posts. I can still make the legs totally by hand with only one glue line to make each 6″ x 3-1/2″ leg. I can manage that.
So I turned my attention to the two pieces for the top slab. They also had checked a little more during the last two weeks, but not to the point where I wanted to make firewood. So I started out dressing the edges to glue up the top. The work was fairly easy. I started with a fore plane and finished up the edges with a jointer plane.
Once they are glued up I plan to surface the entire top.
After dressing up the edges it was obvious I needed to take off a couple inches to remove some punkiness, nasty checking, bark and a little dirt. I got out my coarsest ripsaw and went to work. After 2 feet of ripping the 5″-thick cherry, I gave up. I am generally a stubborn person, but the sawing was too slow-going to be practical. It was going to take an hour of ripping for each slab.
Senior Editor Glen Huey came into the shop. He raised one eyebrow, but he didn’t say anything about the sweat drips all over the slabs.
“I’m gonna cheat,” I said, “and I need your help.”
We humped each slab onto the band saw. In less than five minutes the deed was done. I can rationalize this a million ways: This is work for a pitsawyer. The lumberyard would have dressed these slabs for the pre-industrial woodworker.
But the bottom line was that ripping these slab wasn’t fun. And that’s where I drew the line. The purists can feel free to throw stones now.
– Christopher Schwarz