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A Better Sawbench

This week I began designing and building a ‘new and improved’ saw bench. As you know, I build furniture using ‘only hand tools’  and hand saws and sawing are a very large part of the routine here in the wood shop. I built a saw bench a few years ago following a set of plans from Woodworking Magazine and it has served me pretty well since. Through the years and the hundreds of board feet of hardwood I’ve turned into saw dust,  I found a couple of issues in that design that I felt could be improved on so this week is finally the time to start work on a new one.

I have a couple of planks of Ash that I’m using and will keep you posted as I go. I don’t have any deadlines for the bench but will work away at it over the next week or two. I’m also planning two new ‘boxes’ to transport tools out East with me in early July. One for my sharpening stones and the other a saw till. Each and every summer when I travel to the coast, 90% of my hand tools make the journey with me -safely stored between my large ‘widow maker’ tool chest and my cabinetmakers tool chest. These two boxes will hold all the tools I’ll need over the summer but I’ve always had to pack my sharpening gear and hand saws into cardboard boxes.This year I’m going to do something about that. Nothing too fancy but just some off cuts from the winter projects I’ll use up. Speaking of winter projects, the wardrobe was delivered last week and I’ll post some finished shots as soon as I can. Stay tuned-

From Scrub plane to Jack I dimension the rough Ash for a new saw bench.


  1. Posted by Shannon on Jun 22nd, 2010

    I tip my hat to you sir for working entirely by hand with Ash. I built my Roubo bench entirely from Ash and that stuff is a beast to work with by hand. Swirly grain like you have there seems to pop up everywhere and when it tears out it tears out big time. I’m anxious to see your saw bench design. I too am in need of a better solution so I’ll wait with bated breath.

  2. Posted by Larry Marshall on Jun 22nd, 2010

    Good to hear you’re going to show us how to create the ideal saw bench. Mine was thrown together quickly from available materials. It works but is a bit more wobbly than I would like.

    Cheers — Larry

  3. Posted by Mike Mitchell on Jun 22nd, 2010

    I’m anxious to see the improvements you make on the saw bench. I have looked at the design of the Woodworking Magazine bench and liked it. I keep meaning to build one but have not gotten around to it. Now I have an excuse to put it off longer as I wait to see yours. I hope the new design get the legs out of the way of a long saw a little bit.

  4. Posted by Andre on Jun 22nd, 2010

    Like Mike I too planned for the Woodworking Magazine sawbench but I’ll wait for your improvements. Looking at the Woodworking Magazine design it looks pretty competent for x-cutting, ripping on the other hand looks a little more challenging.

  5. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jun 22nd, 2010

    Shannon- I know what you`re saying- the ash can be a little frustrating but I`m not sweating it too much; this is after all only a saw bench so if I get a little tear out here and there- no worries. Congrats on the new gig – you must be love being surrounded by antique hand tools! You mentioned rebuilding the vise in the work bench in the last post I watched- has that been happened yet…- I gotta visit- for anyone else interested check out-

  6. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jun 22nd, 2010

    Hey Larry- thanks for the comments…not sure if this will be the ìdeal` saw bench or not- time will tell I suppose….. ; )
    I love building workshop furniture and will keep everyone posted on the developments-
    keep well.

  7. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jun 22nd, 2010

    Mike and Andre- sounds like you`re both reading my mind- my old saw bench worked fine for the most part except when ripping wood… so yeah- the new bench is based around that necessity first and foremost. I found that the splayed legs in the Ww Mag saw bench always got in the way. This one is probably a simplified version but should be better suited to anyone that will actually be doing a lot of ripping as well as cross cutting. Thanks for the comments-

  8. Posted by John on Jun 25th, 2010

    Hi Tom-
    I must say that Ive learned more from your writings, and you tube videos over the last month than I have since I started down this winding road of woodworking. I dont wear hats but if I did Id certaintly tip mine to you and your dedication to this ancient craft. I really enjoy hearing what you have to say, or write and look forward to this saw bench when complete. I have a feeling you will see many more makers “unplugging” as your name circulates. Stay safe in your travels.

  9. Posted by Jason on Aug 3rd, 2010

    Tom, any updates on the new saw bench? I’m looking to build my first saw bench and was motivated when I saw you first post this.

  10. Posted by Nathan Jackman on Sep 15th, 2010

    As someone who is currently poring through your book and updating my workshop for a new plethora of hand tools, dying to get an idea for a sawbench. The only one I’ve found so far that looked good was a Chris Schwartz version with splayed legs.

    Can’t wait for an update!

  11. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Sep 15th, 2010

    sorry for the delays on the saw bench…
    its funny how things get turned around so quickly both in and out of the work shop.
    ; )

    keep well

  12. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Sep 15th, 2010

    i missed this comment somehow..? just found it now that i responded to another on this post….not the best at finding comments in this format-
    so yeah- the saw bench..its coming along you know- slowly but surely.
    thanks for the comments everyone-


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