Hand Tool Woodworking++

Lessons Learned Successfully Building an Ugly Sawhorse

I should begin with an apology. I’ve been negligent in moving this blog forward. Life gets in the way sometimes, and I’m sorry. I will do better. Back to sawhorses. In my previous post, I completed (albeit poorly) my first sawhorse, or named more appropriately; frankenhorse. I’m happy to report that frankenhorse has since been dismantled and chucked on the scrap pile for use as firewood. But a noble service frankenhorse provided as I learned more about my complete lack of woodworking skills than I’d hoped.

Not to be thwarted by some ugly handsaw cuts, uneven drill holes, and backwards mounted sawhorse legs, I’m happy to say that after a few more prayers at the altar of the NakedWoodworker’s trove of knowledge, I managed to cobble together two sawhorses that work. They are nothing to look at, but nonetheless I’m counting them as my first success. And in all their glory, behold:


So What Did I Learn

  • Listen to the teacher. In the Naked WoodWorker, Mike Siemsen patiently describes each step he’s taking and why. For example, drilling clearance holes. Mike explains that “the closer you are to the end of a piece of wood the more apt it is to split out and fail.” Well, I didn’t listen and here’s the result:


This lesson made me understand that hand tool woodworking isn’t about short cuts, it’s about the process, and understanding what each tool does and why.

  • It’s harder than it looks. Watching someone saw a straight line, in particular a person who has probably sawed thousands of straight lines, it looks extremely easy. It’s not. I’ve since taken to practising on scrap boards. It’s helping, slowly.

  • Tools matter. In an attempt to keep my start up costs as low as possible, I made my first attempts at sawing with an old toolbox saw that I had laying around. It shredded the wood and made me feel like I just wasn’t capable of woodworking at all. Turns out it was all the saw’s fault; well mostly anyway. After purchasing a reconditioned crosscut saw for $45, the process improved considerably.

  • Don’t quit. After my initial attempt at building a sawhorse and failing, I have to admit, I was disheartened. But after a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I managed to try again and built the two sawhorses pictured above in an afternoon.

  • It’s fun. I’m happy to report that I still have the woodworking bug. I’m ready to move forward and tackle the workbench build in part 2 of the NakeWoodWorker’s DVD. I really wish I’d done this while it was still warm in my garage/shop though.

Till next time.

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