Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Simplest saw till

The World's Simplest Saw Till is the point of this blog entry. (Which doesn't directly relate to this first photo, which is just a general example of a saw till.) But first, a little background:

A "saw till" is what woodworkers that use hand tools call the rack that holds their handsaws. Sometimes it's a cupboard with a door; other times it's open air, like the one pictured here. The aim is to keep your saws safe (i.e. where they won't get stepped on), organized, and accessible.

Since getting a shed, and more recently a workbench, I've managed to log a little bit of shop time. I've noticed that I tend to use the same three or four saws over and over.

Part of this focus on just a few handsaws resulted from something I read in a book, in June of 2010. ( Frid, Tage. 1993. Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking. The Taunton Press (by FWW). Newtown, CT.) Tage Frid is a famous old-school, traditionally-trained woodworker. He contends that you don't really need crosscut **and** rip saws in your arsenal. He demonstrates his point by making (presumably) the same number of saw strokes into a board (p. 14) with crosscut and rip-filed saws. He makes pretty much the same progress with each: the rip saw is noticeably faster when ripping a board (cutting along the grain), and nearly as fast when crosscutting (cutting across the grain). (Note that he doesn't specify the number of teeth per inch, which has an impact on the cutting speed. Presumably they're the same.)

Thus, I've been using a rip-filed backsaw (I think it's a tenon saw) for dovetailing, tenons, and smaller crosscutting (where traditionally I think a carcasse saw would be used). For medium to larger crosscutting I use a crosscut saw or a medium-toothed rip saw. And for heavy ripping, I use a coarse-teethed rip saw -- although I'm in the process of modding a one-person crosscut saw into a mega-ripsaw -- but more on that some other time.

So, that's four saws. And I lacked a good place to put them.

Part one of the solution was to stick a bolt on the side of some wooden shelving near my workbench. So, a bolt, or dowel, stuck in the wall. That's about as simple a sawtill as you could have.

That's a pruning saw on the bottom of the stack; then a hacksaw (the fine teeth are good for cutting PVC pipes and other plastics); then a backsaw. I used to have a few out, and I'd use whichever was sharpened; now I just focus on one, and sharpen the teeth when they need it.

My second saw till is almost as bare-bones as the "bolt in the wall" approach: it's a board with three parallel cuts, going the long way. Each cut is about as long as the depth of a handsaw blade, and slightly farther apart than a saw handle (wide enough that I can get my hand between the handles, to grab the saw). I either clamp it to the end of the workbench, a nearby storage rack, or weight it down with whatever's available.

Below is the super-simple saw till. I glued on an additional piece of wood, thinking I might have room for one additional saw. Then I decided to just make the saw till for three saws. But, I still have room for expansion -- and the extra wood gives added flexibility for mounting.

And here, below, is the end view. It's "Grandad wood", for what that's worth: my wife's grandfather had stashes of wood all around the property (mostly offcuts), and these are are some of the pieces. Some sort of Australian hardwood, although I couldn't tell you more than that. I sanded the top a bit, and gave the whole thing some boiled linseed oil. Didn't bother with the underside: no one's going to look there.

So, yeah -- two of the World's Simplest Sawtills. :)


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