Thursday, February 02, 2017

Testing a new multipurpose saw horse

My students tested my new student saw horse/bench and we made some refinements. One was the addition of a removable wooden hand screw that is reversible to hold irregularly shaped stock or can be used for assembly and planing. The other was that I needed to make a relief cut to allow ripping of stock to take place from the back side. As you rip with a Japanese pull saw, the blade pulls toward you, and a hand braced on the sawhorse at the back stabilizes the whole operation. This relief cut can be observed by comparing photo 5. with photo 2.

The numbered photos show the following:
  1. Use the hand screw outboard to hold angled stock for sawing. 
  2. Use the hand screw mounted inboard for planing or assembly
  3. Use the right side and ledger strip with "c" clamp to hold stock for square crosscuts.
  4. Use the hand screw mounted inboard to hold parts for assembly. In this case the hand screw serves admirably as a vise.
  5.  Mount the stock with "c" clamps to the left side of the bench and saw from behind. Note the cut out that allows for the saw to travel without hitting the hand.
  6. The last photo shows the hand screw mounted with carriage bolts and plastic knobs.
One of the problems with the children's benches we've used at Clear Spring School is the cost of vises. We started our program with some capital that other schools may not have. A good vise can run twice as much as I invested in this bench. It was made in just a bit more than an hour and so there can be few excuses for not putting students to work making beautiful and useful things. The lumber cost $10.70. The large hand screw and clamps were $25.00.

You can see that I'm working toward a cost per student list of tools for those hoping to introduce woodworking in their school. For those hoping to simply add woodworking as a center in an arts complex, thus expanding the student's creative options, two or three benches might suffice, as all students may not be sawing and building at the same time.

Make, fix, create and improve the chances that others learn likewise.






  1. Anonymous7:45 AM

    This low cost workbench design exercise is interesting. I still have to buid a workbench and I coud use this as an interim solution if I had not bought a Workmate about 30 years ago (they are much more expensive and have also limitations).
    A few reflexions:
    Learning various way to clamp a piece is interesting in itself (spatial orientation, creativity, ...) Patience is a virtue. Easy rapid clamping is safer because, if it is complicated or slow, one will tend to work without clamping.
    I would suggest trying to use , instead of two carriage bolt with plastic knobs, two dowels in the top of the workhorse and a single clamp. Benefit: only one handle to turn to secure the wooden clamp.
    As an alternative, if permanent dowels in the top are hampering other uses, one could have dowels glued in the wooden clamp protruding on the to sides so that you can flip it as showed in pictures 1 & 2.
    Of course only experience will tell what is best.

  2. Sylvain, thanks for your suggestions. The dowels in the hand screws seems like a great idea. And it may be that only one dowel would be enough if the carriage bolt and nut serve in the other hole.

    "C" clamps give a very good grip, but I will explore other types of clamp to see which is actually easier for the child to use.

    Thanks for reading and offering feedback.

  3. Hello, Mr. Stowe,

    I stumbled upon this sawhorse bench and I am very intrigued. Could you direct me to other posts you have regarding its construction, please?

    Also, I agree wholeheartedly with your stance on education policy. Rest assured you have a fellow fighting that fight!