Build a Sawhorse for Ripping Lumber with a Handsaw

Ripping a long board with a handsaw is no easy task. Take the amount of muscle required out of the equation and just consider the skill involved in cutting a perfectly straight line for more than a few inches, and you’ll understand why people rush to the table saw.  Yet somehow, before the days of power tools with long, straight fences woodworkers managed to make beautiful, precise masterpieces.

Enter the Ripping Sawhorse

A beautiful, precise masterpiece this project is not. It’s made out of scraps of 2×4 and plywood whereas the Fine Woodworking project on which it was modeled (and luthier who apparently had the same idea) is built from quality lumber. Personally I don’t see a point in spending a ton of money on something that is purely function, not form.

I took Tom Killen’s design and made one critical modification: I ripped the saddle down the center and reassembled it with 1/16″ filler strips at either end.  This created a top in which I could clamp my workpiece and easily saw through it lengthwise using the gap as a saw guide.

A Tip From a Tablesaw

Do you know why your table saws and circular saws all have a riving knife behind the blade (that you probably removed for convenience)? It’s to prevent the two sides of the workpiece from binding back together when they clear the back of the blade.  On a power took that binding can create a difficult situation. Binding happens using a hand saw too, but it’s more likely to just make sawing harder than it is to throw a board at your face.  To prevent binding put a nail or a shim in your saw kerf after you’ve worked far enough into the rip cut that it won’t interfere with your saw blade.

Cutting Lumber Perfectly Square with Hand Tools

Lately I’ve been getting more interested in working with hand tools.  When I first got into remodeling and then woodworking I purchased a bunch of power tools almost immediately because, with my limited knowledge, every cut seemed impossible unless I had just the right blade, on just the right tool, cutting at just the right height and angle.

Ironically just about any cut you can make with a circular saw, jigsaw, compound miter saw, table saw, band saw, planer, or jointer can also be made with just a couple of hand tools, some patience, and a little experience.

Making accurate cuts with hand saws is no exception.

Use a Knife for Marking

During my reading I came across some advice from a master woodworker named William Ng who recommended that laying be done with a marking knife for several reasons: a pencil line is thicker than a cut from a marking knife and thus less accurate, the cut separates the fibers on the outermost layer of wood which reduces tear-out, and finally because the tiny ridge made by the knife blade creates a guide for the saw blade.

I expanded on this advice and found a method for making accurate cuts.  I use a combination square and marking knife or utility knife to mark a perfectly rectangular line around my workpiece, I then cut in at an angle from the waste side of the cut, forming a wall the entire way around the work piece.  Finally I make the cut, allowing the saw to follow the path I made for it.  This method works just as well for cutting mitered angles, you’ll just need a t-bevel to mark your cut instead of the combination square.

Glue applicators cut from wood scrap.

Making Glue Applicators with Scrap Wood

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Are you a woodworker? Are you (like me) too cheep to buy high-end glue brushes but also adverse to applying glue with your fingers like some sort of filthy macaroni artist toddler?  Well do I have just the project for you: glue applicators made out of wood scrap.

What you need is a piece of scrap 6″ long or longer in the direction of the grain. Don’t make your applicators by cross-cutting (cutting perpendicular to the grain), and don’t use MDF or plywood scrap either. These materials will be too brittle at the thickness we’ll be cutting to be useful.

I cut the applicator by clamping a block of wood to my band saw about 1/8″ away from and parallel to the blade then repeatedly running the scrap through until I have a handful of 1/8″ thick strips. I suppose you could do this on a table saw too, but cutting strips this thin between the blade and the fence of a table saw is asking for either trouble or injury.

Once you’ve cut all of your pieces vacuum, air spray, or wipe them clean so you don’t get saw dust in your glue when you go to use them.