Saw

Sawtill in 3 Hours (-ish)

I have too many saws. Let’s just get that out of the way. And if I’m honest I don’t even use some of them all that often. But these are the ones I’ve whittled my saw collection down to, and every time I do use them I remember why they made it into my permanent saws. My panel saws were all taking up floor space in a corner of the shop, while most of my backsaws were laid flat in the drawer under my tool chest. It wasn’t an ideal situation, and I needed a wall hanging sawtill.

Disston, Saw, Panel Saw

My ‘keeper’ panel saws. A couple Disston D-8s, a few more Disstons, a Spear & Jackson and a Warranted Superior. Yes, my shop needed to be cleaned.

Another thing I need to admit – I procrastinate when I reach a crucial or difficult part of a major project. In this case squaring up and cutting the dovetails in the ends of the coffee table boards….so the sawtill was a somewhat justifiable reason to delay that part. That said, I needed this project to be quick, so I kept track of my working time. The stock I used was some Douglas Fir I purchased almost two years ago from Home Depot. The 1x board was around 4″ wide, and straight grained. I didn’t measure anything for this project except for the width of the till, as that’s the dimension that dictates the number of saws I can store in the sawtill. In my case with 7 panel saws, 9 backsaws and a little extra for the inevitable future purchases, the width came to around 26″.

sawtill, sliding dovetail

The sides glued up and ready for cleaning up and joinery

I cut the board and laminated the┬ápieces to minimise waste. I knew I wanted to include some curves in the design, but wasn’t too specific about what I wanted yet. With the glue up done and cleaned up, it was time to cut the joinery. The sawtill has two stretchers in the back attached using lap joints, and a stretcher in the front attached via sliding dovetails that also serves as the rest for the saw handles. I cut the joinery in the sides at once, with both sides held in the vise. Cutting both sides at once saves a ton of time measuring and marking. The lap joints can be marked off directly from the stretcher stock. The dovetail tenons were slightly offset, i.e., the tenon was not centred on the stretcher. I marked the tenons off from the sides, taking care to ensure the offset was on the same side of the stretcher on both sides.

Sawtill, sliding dovetail

Gang cutting the joinery for the sides

…Unfortunately I clearly didn’t take enough care with marking the offset, as I ended up with the two tenons cut offset in different directions. After a little while considering my options and cursing my stupidity, it came down to either shortening the stretcher and reducing the saw till capacity, or ‘fixing’ one tenon by attaching a narrow offcut to it. I went with the latter, glueing up a slice of wood and holding it in tightly place with some tape for a couple hours. This seemed to fix the issue, with both dovetails fitting pretty well without needing any paring.

dovetail tenon

Fixing the dovetail tenon

With the joinery done, I marked out the side profile on one side of the sawtill, and lined both sides up in the vise to cut at once. I just eyeballed the profile and drew it in freehand – I’m sure using french curves for this step would make it more pleasing aesthetically. I used a coping saw to cut the profile out as close to my lines as I safely could. I was close to the end when the saw jumped out mid – vigorous stroke, and caught the index finger on my left hand on the push stroke. I knew something was wrong as a steady stream of blood poured out immediately. I couldn’t tell how deep the cut was, as even under running water the cut bled too much to be able to see anything, so I wrapped it tightly with a large bandaid and headed back downstairs to finish rasping the profile out. With the profile completed, I glued up the sawtill.

curves, coping saw

Cutting curves for the side profiles using a coping saw

A few hours later I headed back into the shop to check out how the till was doing, when the cut on my finger literally started spurting blood through the band aid. Fast forward a few hours, and I was leaving the emergency at 3 AM with 5 heavy sutures in my finger. Turns out the cut almost reached the bone, and was a lot worse than I had anticipated. The next day I decided to finish the project with 9 digits – there wasn’t much left to do, just glue squeeze out clean up and attaching the kerfed pieces that the sawblades slot into. This part took a little fiddling, as the sawtill was a bit steep. I cut the kerfs a bit oversize, and did them on the bandsaw.

Woodworking accidents

Handsaws are dangerous too

I decided against staining or finishing the till at all. I liked the look of the Douglas Fir, and the fact that the till would be in an indoor shop meant that a finish really wasn’t necessary. I attached the sawtill to the wall with two screws through the stretchers into the wall studs. Oh, and I added a couple nails on one side to hold my flush cut saws, and a nail on the top stretcher to hold my Knew Concepts fret saw.

The three hour sawtill!

The three hour sawtill!

All together the working time on this project was around 3 hours, not including the time for the glue to dry and the emergency visit to the hospital. I love having my tools out where I can see them, because, well, I love tools and I think they’re beautiful…but also because a tool I can see is a tool I’m more likely to use. That’s enough procrastination for now though, time to get back to that coffee table…

Side profile of the sawtill and my backsaw collection; A number of Veritas, a couple Lie Nielsens, a Bad Axe and a Disston.

Side profile of the sawtill and my backsaw collection; A number of Veritas, a couple Lie Nielsens, a Bad Axe and a Disston.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Builds, Shop, 0 comments