Herman-Style Sawbench – Panel Prep


Sawbench Crosscutting

Once the panels were out of the clamps, cleaned up, and planed flat, it was time to start building.  The first step was to cut the panels to final length.  This was the perfect job for my Disston No. 7 12ppi crosscut panel saw.  This is not a common filing, but it’s perfect for this sort of cut, where you want as smooth a finish as possible.  The next stop would be the shooting board, and the better the finish here, the less work there.  As you can see, there was a considerable amount of overhang on my existing sawbench, which was one of the reasons for wanting a new one.

Sawbench Shooting

As usual, I cut just outside the line for final length, and used my shooting board and Veritas jack plane to trim things up.  This plane, coupled with a 25 degree iron, is ideal for shooting board work.  It has plenty of mass, is easy to adjust, and leaves a beautiful finish on the end grain.

The two end pieces were a little bit wider than the top, so I ripped them to rough width, again on the sawbench.  My ripsaw kept bumping into the splayed legs of the bench, causing me aggravation and giving yet another reminder of why I was doing this.

Sawbench Planing to Width

Once I had the boards to rough width, I clamped them together and planed them simultaneously to the same width as the top.  A careful examination of the above photo will show a slight difference in width remaining as the planing progresses.  I probably should have clamped the pair lower down to give me a better planing angle, but dropping them in the top of the face vise was convenient, and the angle wasn’t too bad.  In any event, I didn’t have any trouble with it, so all’s well that ends well.

Sawbench Dovetailing

The last task for the day was to cut the dovetail joints connecting the top and sides.  This was a treat, as it was my first chance to use my new Bad Axe Wyatt Earp hybrid dovetail/small tenon saw on a real project.  I won’t bore you with the details of cutting dovetails, since this subject has been (more than) adequately covered by other writers.  Suffice it to say that the Wyatt Earp did a fantastic job on the thicker stock, providing a perfect balance of speed and control.  Dovetailing pine is a mixed blessing.  It’s easier to get a good fit between pins and tails due to the compressibility.  On the other hand, I tent to overrun my baselines when chiseling out the waste due to the same softness.  It’s not the pine’s fault, I just need more practice.

By the way, the presence of the Bad Axe coffee cup was not contrived.  I just happened to be using that cup and, as usual, set it down by my work spot.  No, really!

We’ll get to the rest of the joinery next time.  Stay tuned!

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