• Advertise with us
Project by SilverbackReef posted 03-21-2011 04:42 AM 45197 views 106 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First project post. Here goes.

I was thinking about building a sawbench when I tripped over swirt’s here

At the same time, I happened to be reading Chris Schwartz’s workbench book. One statement jumped out at me: “A bench is a 3D clamping surface” which results in the flush leg and no-apron design notions. Figured I’d try and build a sawbench combining swirt’s and Schwartz’s principles. This is the result.

It’s all SYP. The legs and top are laminated. Joinery is lapped joints mostly created at lamination-time plus miters on the corners. Initial parts milling was done with power tools, everything else was hand-tool.

The good:
  • the design works
  • it isn’t tippy (which was my primary concern)
  • I learned a lot and got to practice some stuff that I’ll use when I get around to building a workbench.
  • Finally got around to making a shooting board (why’d I wait so long? works great!)
The bad:
  • I thought using lapped joints created during the lamination would be less fussy than M&T. I was wrong.
  • My experiment w/ cutting mitered corners entirely by hand was only partially successful. I won’t do it again without building a donkey’s-ear first.
  • Took too long. I feel like I’ve taken something that should have been really simple and made it complicated.

23 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4788 days

#1 posted 03-21-2011 04:48 AM

Nice sawbench!

View David "Lucky Dawg" Brown's profile

David "Lucky Dawg" Brown

440 posts in 4107 days

#2 posted 03-21-2011 05:19 AM

thats cool!

-- dumpster diver delux

View obi999's profile


213 posts in 4522 days

#3 posted 03-21-2011 10:10 AM

Hey this looks really cool, like it very much! The joinery looks perfect and sturdy. I consider to set it on my “to-build-list” at one of the front places.
Welcome to Lumberjocks and i hope to see more projects of you.

-- *** the german lumberjock ***

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4230 days

#4 posted 03-21-2011 10:53 AM

welcome to L J enjoy and have fun :-)

it´s a very fine sawbench , thank´s for sharing it with us

just remember its not how fast or how many projects you finish that count
what counts is the journey from the first thoughts all the way to look the reciver in the eye´s at the delivery

take care

View StumpyNubs's profile


7851 posts in 3915 days

#5 posted 03-21-2011 02:24 PM

I like it- it’s compact and useful for hand tool work. Maybe I’ll build one!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 3753 days

#6 posted 03-21-2011 02:56 PM

Thanks for sharing. Some very good design ideas there. I might have to build something similar.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View swirt's profile


6267 posts in 4087 days

#7 posted 03-21-2011 04:50 PM

Wow I like it. Is it a Swirz or Schwirt ? ;)
I like the look of the stout legs and the side clamping feature of the holdfast holes in the leg. You will have to report back after you’ve used it a while as to how often you use the side holdfast and how well it works overall. Seems like a great idea and not possible with my design.

With your design, I would keep an eye on or consider reinforcing, just to be safe, the 2×4 where the far end of the pipeclamp goes down to lock against it. With the U cut out of it you are essentially down to a 2×2” which may be prone to breaking if you clamp something up tight, though it may be getting plenty of support from the underside lamination of the bench top (hard for me to tell from the photo).

It looks great and will be perfect for more hand tool work. You may feel like you put too much time into it now, but I promise you, after a year you will think it is totally worth it because you will have used it so much. I use mine all the time. ( I should probably get off my duff and post the shaving horse attachment I made for mine.)

-- Galootish log blog,

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4449 days

#8 posted 03-21-2011 05:15 PM

A great bench design and well crafted. I doubt you will worry much about the ‘bads’ because the ‘goods’ will make this bench capable of just about any normal woodworking task.

I use a similar concept which is just two loose torsion box beams sitting on supports. I love this idea because I can have them together or space them out for larger work and the clamping possibilities are almost limitless. In fact I have a pretty good cabinet makers bench too, but I like the beams better. I will be surprised if after using your bench for awhile you will ever need or want anything else.

Welcome to LJ. I hope you enjoy it here!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3808 days

#9 posted 03-21-2011 05:22 PM

Wooooooow, I really want one. You must be a handtool guy. I’ve got a sawbench and a drawhorse on my “to do” list. I love that holddown. Great job!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View SilverbackReef's profile


23 posts in 4067 days

#10 posted 03-21-2011 05:28 PM

Thanks for all the kind words folks. Especially glad to hear from swirt since it was your idea in the first place.

re. side holdfasts: I agree about the questionable usefulness here, we’ll see. If nothing else it’s a convenient place to keep them when not in use. I keep my clamping stops in the holes on the other side when not in use.

re. reinforcing: I did a couple of experiments during the design stage. Those pieces are supported by the underside of the top and the angled faces of the pipe clamp ends focus the pressure into the top portion of the rail, thus into the end grain of the top piece. It creaked and popped a bit the first time I cranked down on it. Hasn’t made a whisper since.

re. shave horse: I saw your note about it, love to see just a photo or two!

Thanks again for all the good words. As a noob I’ve learned a lot and derived a lot of motivation from all the kind folks on LJ.

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3803 days

#11 posted 03-21-2011 05:48 PM

that’s one fine sawbench, sturdy and very well build

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View swirt's profile


6267 posts in 4087 days

#12 posted 03-21-2011 10:53 PM

DennisGrosen asked me on the comments of my sawbench which style I would recommend, mine or yours. I came up with a lame answer of “make one of each.” In thinking about both styles I think that overall I like yours better with a few minor tweaks. I think mine is faster to build but the style of the legs on mine make the cool side clamping impossible.

After using mine here are some ideas I would change on yours to build new ones for myself. SilverBackReef I share these here not as criticism of your design in any way, but just food for thought if you are prepping to build another one and for DennisGrosen who needs a pair.

a) Saddle notch for the pipe clamp – The saddle notch is necessary on mine, but on yours it is not needed because the bench top sits higher than the cross piece, so the pipe could simply sit on the crosspiece and still be below the level of the benchtop. Without the saddle notch, you wouldn’t need the extra wood faces on the pipe clamp jaws. (those are cool though and maybe you already used them, instead of adding them just for this project)

b) One shortcoming of mine, and yours suffers the same fate right now, is that when early on in a rip cut, if the saw is in the ripping gap between the two top halves, the toe of the saw runs into the stretcher on yours and the leg on mine. I find this shortens the usable ripping length of the bench and means I have to stop more often to move the wood (this makes me grumble). It is partially fixable on yours, but not on mine. I would consider raising the height of the short stretcher so that the toe of the saw could pass under it for a bit and it would increase the useable length of the ripping gap. The only downside would be that the short stretcher and the long stretcher would not be lined up. (Keep the long stretcher low like you have it, mine sometimes gets in the way when I try to reach under and tighten an F-clamp)

The only feature of mine that yours can’t do, wasn’t even an intended feature. However, for the kind of projects I play with, I have used it a few times like this … well a photo will show it better than words. LOL

Again, thanks for inspiring more thoughts on this.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4230 days

#13 posted 03-21-2011 11:33 PM

thank´s for your thought´s and idea´s Steve … they are preciated :-)


View SilverbackReef's profile


23 posts in 4067 days

#14 posted 03-21-2011 11:49 PM

swirt, no offense could be taken….since it was your idea in the first place. ;-)

re clamp pads & saddle notches: I spent an evening adding those to my small collection of pipe clamps after seeing the idea in wood mag (I think). Sized the drop into the notches with them in place. I’m not that worried about the notches on mine…and had fun making them: bore, saw, and rasp.

re making room for more ripping: Hmm. In my own case, perhaps make one of the top-rails/clamp-supports removable? With a low rail and a missing top rail on one end, you could get pretty far in a rip without having to move.

re making two: I still need a second support that’s the same size as this one. In one of Schwartz’s photos I noticed that his second support was a shop-made step-stool. I’m thinking that my second will be something other than a sawbench. Hmm, what do I need that’s either 20 inches high or wide?

I don’t do many long rips anyway. My saws aren’t that good (and need sharpening, another item on the to-learn list) and my hands/wrists are ruined from decades of programming. This is mostly for small things that I work on in the morning/evening. When I have a lot to do, I break out an old shopsmith and use it outdoors (don’t have any dust-collection, don’t want it). Now having a proper sawbench, the breakpoint between hand and machine may change, we’ll see.

I’m thinking of adding a signature to this account, how’s this sound:

“There’s no such thing as being too rich or too beautiful…...or having too many clamps!”

View swirt's profile


6267 posts in 4087 days

#15 posted 03-22-2011 04:13 AM

Funny you mention the stool as another option for the second in the pair. I have another option that I just built, but have not had the time to document…and I also want to use it a bit to work out the kinks on the design. It is a stout chair where the seat of the chair is the same height as the sawbench and the top of the backrest is the same height as the workbench. The thing is ugly as a catfish, but so far is very versatile. It’s also not so bad to sit in when I need to catch my breath after sawing or planing.

-- Galootish log blog,

showing 1 through 15 of 23 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics