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Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - DJChurn - 08-05-2014

I am sure to get opinions here.

Going to build a "Sawing Trestle" like this one.

Living in one-bedroom apartment now and owning large power tools is out of the question. I am faced with having to do long rips with a handsaw (own plenty). This design comes from a book called "Things To Make". I have seen the Schwartz variation but I like this one for its roots. It is 20" tall and the top is 29"x4"x2". I want to know if anyone would make it taller, wider or a thicker top? I am 6' 2". The reason I am seeking advice on options is that I want to occasionally straddle the horse and use the 90 degree method of sawing. This can be seen in an old episode of Woodwright with Chris demonstrating this sawing method standing at a bench.

Now the other questions on Holdfasts. Read and investigated all that I could find. Seems to be a consensus that the Grammercy ones give you the best punch for the buck but I like the logic built into the Lee Valley product with the screw top. They are expensive and I do not want to blow $80.00 each for 2. Grammercy is currently out of them so I am seeking opinions on others that may be out there, or if someone may have a pair for sale, of any type.

I had one like this before and liked it a great deal but I am open for suggestions.

Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - JimReed@Tallahassee - 08-05-2014

It looks alot like my sawbench that has a 2x6 top. As for the holdfast, I use my booted foot. Before I built the bench, I tested stacks of lumber to determine a comfortable height for boot holding. It has worked well. Any board that wants to move gets a single C-clamp on the opposite end. Good luck with your bench.

Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - Phil S. - 08-05-2014


I made a splay legged saw bench ala Schwarz and it took me about two cuts before I ran my saw down one of the legs, adding interesting texture to the edge of it. I plan to make another following the design presented by Ron Herman with legs square to the floor and hopefully out of harms way. If you do a search for "Ron Herman saw bench" you'll find lots of examples. I found this one modified to have a split top - interesting idea. I have a holdfast hole in my current bench and will have that in the new one. Some have discussed adding a vice, maybe the LV inset vice, to the saw bench as well to increase its versatility.

I have both the Gramercy holdfasts and a LV hold-down. Both are good tools. The holdfasts are faster to use while the hold-downs are bomb proof and can clamp more securely. For most uses I think I'd prefer the holdfasts, being faster and usually adequate, but the hold-down is for those cases where you really don't want your work piece to move. Another option for a holdfast is the one from Lie-Nielsen. A little more expensive than the Gramercy, but I like its low profile. Haven't used them though, but I expect they are up to LN usual standard of high quality.


Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - cwarner - 08-05-2014

My sawbench is a split top very similar to the one linked above. I like it very much and it provides great support for longer rips

Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - Phil S. - 08-05-2014

I see Lee Valley also carries Gramercy holdfasts and are shown as being in stock. Joel's site says they will be in stock in early August.

Wait a minute, that's now. Maybe by the time you order them they will be in stock at TFWW for a few bucks less than from LV.


Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - Paul-in-Plymouth - 08-05-2014

I also made the Schwarz saw bench with top about 20” high and 7” wide. I put a few 3/4“ holes in the top to work with the Veritas Hold-down and Wonderpup and some shop-made stops. I find the 2-by thickness of the top is not enough to work well with Gramercy Holdfasts, but the Veritas Hold-down works very well. Bombproof, as Phil says. Even at $80, I think the Veritas Hold-down is a good value. I use one but have not seen a need for two.

I use my bench all the time for a wide variety of things in addition to sawing. I’ve managed to avoid sawing the splayed legs off, so far, but if I were making a new saw bench, I would consider the Ron Herman design mentioned by Phil or the design by Jim Tolpin in The New Traditional Woodworker with legs splayed on one side, but nearly vertical on the other.

Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - Rob Young - 08-05-2014

If planning to use your left knee as a "clamp" while cross cutting or ripping (assuming you are right handed) then the top of the bench needs to be right at the bottom of your knee cap for maximum comfort. Or at least as comfortable as resting half your weight on your knee can be.

For ripping, I either sit down and do a "Continental rip" or stand and rip at the workbench. Both are overhand rips. I get better results that way.

I have not bothered drilling a 3/4" hole in any of my saw benches to use a holdfast. All are made of plane-jane 2x6 and 2x8 material from Home Depot and work just fine otherwise.

Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - Bibliophile 13 - 08-05-2014

Yes, you can make the top wider. You can use a 2X6 or even a 2X8. Just make sure the grain is straight and there are not knots, or the top may want to twist, giving you an unstable sawbench. Mine warped, and I've had to mess with the ends of the legs to get the thing to stand stable again.

Notice that the ends of the sawbench in the plan are flush with the ends of the legs. That's important. That way, you can crosscut at one end without worrying about the legs getting in the way of your saw.

I highly recommend building two, especially for rips. The second one catches the offcut. The second one can be substantially smaller. When I built my small sawbench, I made the legs on one side straight up and down, and I'm glad I did. For shorter rips, it allows me to saw right up next to the flat surface of the sawbench.

Here's how I often use them in tandem:

Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - Philip1231 - 08-05-2014

I've been using the LN holdfast for some time now and it gets the job done. Small piece of leather glued to the contact surface is a useful addition.

Re: Opinions needed Sawhorses and Holdfasts - thai_woodie - 08-05-2014

Agree with Phil S. comments on the splayed leg design. I made that one, but if I had to do it over, I would make the straight sided split top as linked in Phil's comments.