Split top saw bench

Split top saw bench

Building a split top saw bench from salvage

After burning off some excess calories hand planing some rough cut fifty year old salvage lumber into usable material I realized it was just the right amount to build a saw bench similar to one I saw here.
I liked the design of the that saw bench but I decided after I started building mine that the lower stretchers were completely unnecessary and would only end up being something to stub my toes on.  What looks like a stretcher in the picture on the right is really a drop in fence that fits in the center slot. This makes a nice backstop when cross-cutting that can be easily removed and stowed below when not needed. And although this picture does not show it, I doubled the thickness of the top as well so that I can drill the top to accommodate my holdfasts when needed.

Selecting material

For the top I chose the best of the lot, slow grown pine of some variety with over 50 rings per inch. I suspect this was locally grown at high altitude, it was wonderful wood but a bit brittle in some ways.
I chose the two best pieces for the top and the legs since that was really the guts of the project and decided to use dovetail joints to connect the top to the legs.
Dovetails and tenons
I also cut through mortises in the feet to accommodate the tenons on the legs. The picture at the right shows the pieces ready for assembly. Because I was designing the benches dimensions to match the salvage wood, the legs were considerably narrower than the tops. Though now that it is done I think there is actually going to be some advantage to that arrangement. It gives more clearance when ripping using the center slot for example.
The length of the bench was determined by the material at hand so 32 inches was the longest clear piece I could get of the really nice material. The lower quality stuff with checks and a few knots were used as backing under the top since no one would ever see it.


The assembly was very straight forward since the joinery was simple and the wood was very straight. After glue up I added pins to the mortise and tenon joints to add mechanical strength to the glue. When finished this bench is absolutely rock solid. A few coats of boiled linseed oil and  it was done. Turned out so well, it seems almost a shame to use it (well almost).

Glue up

Squaring it up

Aprons and backing

Aprons and blocking

Cleaning up the joints

Trimming the joinery

Setting the pegs

Pegging the joints


Finished Bench

Removable fence

Removable fence

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