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Tool Talk with Bill Rittner

  Saw Sharpening Bench by Bill Rittner 1 of 5  


The pic below shows the top and the wood that I will use in this project. The wood has been collected over the last year.


For shop projects I donít usually buy the materials, but try to use what I have, what I can repurpose, or can find from others discards. The first thing I found was the top. It is a high pressure laminated countertop that a cabinet maker in my building no longer wanted.

The leg stock is Douglas fir 4◊4ís that I have had for many years. The oak board is door sill stock that I got from an estate cleanout several years ago. It will now be used for a shelf.

In this case I did buy a Douglas fir 2x10x8′ board because I needed apron stock and wanted to begin the project so I spent a few dollars on that. The final dimensions for the bench were driven by the already existing top which is 24 1/4″ x 42 1/2″.

Today I finalized several key dimensions. Using the chair that will be used with this bench the minimum clearance under the benches apron was determined that would allow my legs to go under the bench.

The location of the saw tooth line when being sharpened was determined also using the chair. I placed a saw in my workbenches front vise and, using the chair, the vertical position of the saw was adjusted until a comfortable height for tooth filing was achieved. These critical dimensions along with some measurements from the vise gave me the information needed to determine the length of the legs and the height of the aprons.

The rest of the day I spent breaking down, jointing, and milling the stock for the bench base to S4S final size. As you can see in the pic above I stand my project stock on edge on stickers keeping it spaced apart to allow air circulation.

Never lay your freshly milled wood flat on your bench top. It can inhibit moisture loss from the face in contact with the bench top causing the board to cup. I have had this happen. Tomorrow the lengths will be cut as will the joinery. And hopefully glue-up can be done next day.

I started joinery with the legs. They are 3″ x 3″ Douglas Fir and the first operation was to cut them to their final length on the table saw. The height of the blade was set to just over the center of the legs and cuts on opposite sides completed the cut.

Next, holes were drilled in the bottom of the legs to accommodate T-nuts and threaded rubber feet to allow for leveling the bench for use.

This is a feature that I frequently use because I have never seen a level, flat floor and I hate when things roll off my work surface.

The legs were too long to get into my drill press so I drilled them by hand. Sighting down 2 squares using a hand drill or a brace will give you a very straight hole.

Then it was time to cut the mortises. There are sixteen 1/2″ x 3″ mortises to cut so I brought out my benchtop mortiser and it made quick work of the task. I always cut mortises first and fit the tenons to them.

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