Finishing Saw benches

DSC00457One disadvantage of this design is that you need to keep centered on the bench or you could get dumped off the end.  So, I decided to add an accent across the bench top to act as a sight reference point.

DSC00459There are many specialty tapes available for painting, but I’ve always had good results with standard 3M blue tape.

DSC00463The red barn Milk Paint gave me the accent I wanted.

DSC00468I then mixed equal parts paint thinner, boiled linseed oil and spar varnish to create a hassle free wipe on penetrating finish.

DSC00469I love a hand rubbed look and a very thin finish.  This mixture fit this bill perfectly.  It also toned down the barn red a bit, blending in into the surrounding finish.


  1. Saw benches are easy to build
  2. Saw benches develop you hand skills
  3. Saw benches build you confidence
  4. Saw benches are practical, functional and even beautiful

And, if this isn’t enough, they look the part and remind me of a quality old world piece of furniture.  Now, for the rest of my life, I can enjoy “a nice Pair”.  I believe Christopher Schwarz would be proud of me for that last comment.  


Building Saw Benches

DSC00506 Notice I didn’t say saw horses, which are a different breed from a saw bench.  A saw bench is lower to the ground in comparison to its taller brethren and offers the following advantages:

  1. Easier to utilize as a step stool to reach the top of your lumber rack
  2. Better ergonomics when hand nailing up a carcass
  3. Easier to kneel on while hand sawing your work
  4. Lower center of gravity, which is always better
  5. The forked tongue allows you to sit on the bench and cut directly toward yourself
  6. The wider top offers more comfortable sitting while you contemplate how to fix your last mistake
  7. The overhang at both ends allows easier access for clamping

Now for some photos of the build process

DSC00492After dimensioning the pieces from power tools, I was left with saw marks.DSC00493Now, you can either sand out these marks, which will fill you shop with fine sawdust and damage your lungs or use a jack plane.  Tell you wife about this health hazard and she will order you to buy one.  One more tool acquisition you won’t need to negotiate.

DSC00472I then used a marking gauge to lay out the cuts.

DSC00499A mechanical pencil will trace down into the marking gauge line for increased visibility

DSC00484The shoulders are cut with a cross cut saw, I then used a coping saw to hog out the majority of the remaining wood.

DSC00486A router plane will clean up the rough uneven cut left by the coping saw

DSC00503Look how nicely you can control the depth of the cut with the router plane.  If you don’t have a router plane, order one before dinner tonight.  You won’t be sorry.

DSC00473I hand cut the notches with a panel saw, then cleaned up the cut with a rasp

DSC00501Top top bench cut out and cleaned up

DSC00475The legs are marked with a triangle.  This identifies their specific location.

DSC00457The legs are angled at 10 degrees off vertical and horizontal planes.

DSC00477After hand cutting the faces, they were cleaned up with a shoulder plane

DSC00502Save the cutouts

DSC00505Use them back as cowls for level clamping of the legs

DSC00494 After notching out and installing the lower braces, they were flush cut with a Japanese pull sawDSC00496Duck tape helps prevent scratching the surrounding work piece

DSC00505Plane the cuts absolutely flush with your block plane

DSC00516 I used traditional nails to better secure the joints.  DSC00514



I will now apply a light stain and finish.  These saw benches are all about practicing hand skills.  If you can build good looking saw benches, you can probably build good looking furniture.  I found the process to be a great skill and confidence builder.   They will also be very useful around my wood shop.

(For a complete understaning of this build project, see Christopher Schwarz DVD or internet write up.  I only hit a few main points in the post.)

Gear Review: Artifact Apron #325-D

We waste so much time reaching for our tape measure, looking up our pencils and crawling under our workbench to retrieve an eraser.  This up and down, back and forth needs to stop.  If I want to do lunges, I’ll go to the gym.

And, it will stop if you learn to wear a shop apron.  This post is a gear review of the Artifact Bag Co. Artisan Apron #325-D.  Hand made in Omaha Nebraska utilizing authentic tight weave cotton, double needle stitching, leather washers and brass grommets.



First off notice the length.  I never liked the evening gown approach…running half way to the floor.  This apron is smartly short in length and doesn’t get in the way when you sit at your bench.

DSC00516The top of the apron is well designed with multiple pockets.  I utilize the top pockets for:  Cell phone (iPhone 6 fits perfectly), and three markers.  One fine mechanical pencil, one fat lead pencil and one sharpie. I use all three of these differently depending what I am marking.  It is very nice to have them all within reach.

DSC00512The bottom right pockets hold my tape measure and eraser.

DSC00513The bottom left pocket holds my 6″ combo square, also referred to as my “truth teller”.

DSC00523To the far right and left, there is another pocket which is perfect for two additional items.  I place a screw driver in the right side and am yet to utilize the left side.

DSC00517The brass grommets are backed with a small leather washer for better support.  All the stitching is robust and industrial quality, like you would have seen 100 years ago.

DSC00461Even the logo is old World looking.  What’s not to love here folks?


  1. Aprons keep you organized
  2. Aprons keep popular hand tools within easy reach
  3. Aprons protect your pants and shirt from stains, dust and debris
  4. Aprons offer some protection from an errant chisel
  5. Finally, aprons are cool and look the part

I am very proud to own this apron.  There is something very appealing about putting it on.  I feel organized, alert and adequately ready to approach my work.   It is very well made and I suspect it will last the rest of my life.  It’s that good.  And, yes, like all my tools, I bought it with my own money.


Ham n Egger Philosophy

In my father’s view, there was no clear separation between woodworking and religion.


He would speak of wood as others may speak of the Holy Writ. He understood wood. He knew how to hold it, how to cut it and how to shape it to his advantage. He knew how a piece would split or break. He understood how thick a piece needed to be in order to hold and about how much weight it would bear. He had a good eye and could see anything that was out of true or misaligned.


His high standards were based upon morality rather than speed. There was a right way to do something, no rough corners, no nails on the ground, no loose piles of lumber laying around. Things had to be neat and orderly. It had to make sense to him. He could never work for the other guy and he could never work for an hourly wage.


I have multiple memories of my father working in his wood shop. His stiff original 501 Levi’s had glue wiped all over them, nearly causing them to stand up on their own. His shop had a certain smell to it…one of fresh cut sawdust usually from pine or oak. There was the Elmer’s glue bottle, with globs of glue all around the top, hanging on a bent wire in front of the heater to keep it warm. He could often be heard singing Frank Sinatra. He has a good voice and still sings today.

He is a true engineer (without formal training) who can build anything. When I was a young boy, my father built a train that actually ran on a rail track around our house. The only thing he didn’t build was an airplane (mom wouldn’t let him).

During all these building experiences, he was often heard to speak about ham n egger’s. My brother and I could never understand what he actually meant. Though never formally verbalized, as adults, we believe we have deduced it’s proper meaning.

A ham n egger is anyone untrained, following his own dreams, not really giving a damn about what other experts think or how they say it should be done, building something that makes total sense to them, yet zero sense to anyone else. Furthermore, the true ham n egger accomplishes all this with very few tools and often with materials that can be found on hand or in his own wood pile. Additionally the phrase grants one an extra level of grace or forgiveness in ones woodworking projects that the expert or professional may not be willing to grant. Though the standard may sound low, it is set by the individual and only the individual. If you are happy with it, you’ve reached the standard. This is the true spirit of the ham n egger. It’s quite liberating once you understand it.


Original ham n egger in the background with second generation ham n egger in the foreground (me).

Though I originally discredited woodworking and found little merit in the skill, as an adult I often find myself reverting back to my fathers inclinations to accomplish something with my hands, often by working wood.

“Well boys”, my father would say, “I think it passes the ham n egger standard.” I would often say, “I think this exceeds the ham n egger standard,” but dad, very humbly would suggest that we were still firmly entrenched within the parameters of the standard.

I love you dad!