3 Truths To Better Sawing


After more than four decades toting around saw bucks full of saws and a sawyer bench of substantial weight, I’ve come to know more than a little about sawing. You might be surprised to learn that the human body plays a major role in this process – fitting things properly to the person sawing is vital, as is understanding how your body works. In my opinion, these three truths will make you better when sawing.

(Fig. 1) My sawyer’s bench was built years ago. It has been used and abused, but it’s still holding up.

Let’s begin with a proper saw bench, which I find indispensable in my work (Fig. 1). Having any old bench, or tossing together two sawhorses on which to cut, is not going to allow you to produce your best work. A  bench that you plan to saw on should be fitted to your particular body in order to get quality results. Why? Think about this: As you lift your knee to the top of the bench, your skeleton pivots. Lift your knee too high and you’ll be rocked to one side or the other. Same thing happens when your knee is not high enough. (Matching your bench height to your skeleton is topic #1 in the video below.)

(Fig. 2) It may sound illogical, but there is a way to mathematically figure your ideal saw length based off the height of your sawyer bench – it works most times. Use the Pythagorean theorem in which A² (height of bench) + B² (also the height of bench) = C² (length of saw). Of course, you have to know your ideal bench height first.

Some woodworkers would argue that a handsaw is more important than a bench to saw on. I consider them equally important. As with a bench, having any saw to work with is going to give you results, but those results will not be of the highest quality if your saw is not properly fit to your body. For that, you need a saw length that matches your arm length. But put down your tape measure. The best measurement is right off your body (Fig. 2).

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