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Thread: Low Japanese saw horses

  1. #1
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    Low Japanese saw horses

    I made a pair for myself a couple years ago, and like them for standoffs on the workbench. However, I still haven't figured out comfortable mechanics for using them with actual Japanese saws. Nothing really feels comfortable.

    Oddly, I can find a million tutorials on the Net on how to make sawhorses (if I have to see another person show off chopping the mortise for the feet, I'm going to go crazy). But how are these ACTUALLY used in practice? Refs to a good tutorial/explanation greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I took a brief course including exposure to these.

    I lasted ten minutes. My Ryoba is a ripping machine, with boards held vertically.

    Here's a pithy video from Brian Holcombe illustrating the approach.

    https://youtu.be/3rzNsqA4Kfc

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    I made a pair for myself a couple years ago, and like them for standoffs on the workbench. However, I still haven't figured out comfortable mechanics for using them with actual Japanese saws. Nothing really feels comfortable.

    Oddly, I can find a million tutorials on the Net on how to make sawhorses (if I have to see another person show off chopping the mortise for the feet, I'm going to go crazy). But how are these ACTUALLY used in practice? Refs to a good tutorial/explanation greatly appreciated.
    Have you taken into account Japanese woodworkers tend to sit on the floor while working?

    Comfort is really something one acclimates to from doing all of their life.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
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    Yes I know they are intended to work on the floor and I have seen Brianís video but he is ripping at the workbench.

    It still escapes me how low sawhorses or bamba are supposed to be used.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Have you taken into account Japanese woodworkers tend to sit on the floor while working?

    Comfort is really something one acclimates to from doing all of their life.
    Who needs yoga! This is where it's at. Proper Japanese tool use requires flexible body positioning. (I might be in a wheelchair now if not for that practice.)

  6. #6
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    I doubt that many Japanese woodworkers are re-sawing boards (as Brian did in that video). I have never seen a video of a Japanese furniture maker doing so. I suspect that most, if not all, purchase their boards in the desired thicknesses.

    Instead, I have seen many sawing joinery on saw horses/ These are frequently crosscuts or short rips. The saws are shorter and can work from the floor.

    Others, who work with machinery, are really no different to Western woodworkers (such as Ishitani - he is 90% power and 10% hand).

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  7. #7
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    Before reading this, I repeat that I found the traditional approach impractical and physically demanding. It's my assertion that the low sawhorses weren't designed for superior performance; they're small and portable by necessity.

    If you carry your tools to and from work, bulk matters.
    If your shop is small, size matters.

    Actual experts *will* correct my unintentional mistakes. They will also provide more accurate head counts for the number of Trompten/Menahuni/妖精たち dance on the head of a pin.

    *****



    This approach is meant really for ripping. While rough lumber maybe handled as follows, accurate Cross cutting is done on a light board with a fixed cleat for mechanical advantage.

    Doing this on concrete is unpleasant. A chef's floormat was a decent compromise.

    ****

    Boards thicker than 2" or resawing is typically done outdoors, as it generates loads of sawdust and is sweaty work.

    The traditional way has the user standing, bent at the waist with one (shoeless) foot on the work to hold it down.

    The stroke is quick, nearly vertical (upwards) toward the user's midsection with your nose nearly over the cutline. I kept a clean Tshirt handy to dry the board.

    It's like a spinning class, without the Electronica blare.

    *****
    Getting this alignment right, with a light touch is essential to cutting straight and efficiently. Even with a chef's mat under my work, I couldn't manage.

    Mark Grable was kind enough to steer me in the right direction, he said the blade will "ring" at a high pitch when the tension is right and the cutting pressure optimal.

    My first three attempts were ragged (hence the upright stance, instead.)

    *****
    Once you pass the first third of the board, suspend it between both "trestles" and continue.

    Keep the tip of the blade pointed away from the body, so the blade cuts more toward horizontal.

    If more than 1/2 the blade is captured in the kerf, lightly oil the flats on both sides.

    Thicker than 4" stock will require cutting from both sides.

    If the board bounces, additional packing might help.
    (Rolled towels worked for me.)

    Keep the stroke quick, and light.

    The height of the trestle limits the amount of saw travel. Most of my Ryoba are older, so I avoid hitting the floor.

    My favorite is from the 1960's with a larger Walnut handle. Traditional Paulownia wrapped in rattan handles are too narrow for me to hold comfortably, for long.

    I used Showa Atlas gloves for better grip but it felt like yardwork, not shop time.

    The walnut handle is rectangular in cross section and fixed to the blade with a through bolt.

    As you near the end, drop the front trestle and slow the cutting speed. It's no longer possible to stand on the board at this point.

    Either leave the board long (and crosscut the excess) or get a shop helper or sandbag to hold the board in place.


    One of the low beams *will* get scored on these last strokes.

    Heavyweight beams are cut at waist height, pulling downward. Middleweight boards are often tied in place as they tend to bounce.

    Koichi Paul Nii includes some illustrations of Hideo Sato's instructions on pp. 51-55 of "The complete Japanese Joinery"

    TLNR synopsis - light, quick strokes with your nose over the cutline. One foot on the board.

  8. #8
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    Low horses are typically used for timber work. I don’t believe them to be commonly used for furniture making. Standard height horses combined with a planing beam are typically used instead of a workbench.

    I don’t love ripping on horses but it certainly can be done.

    Butt clamp user for chopping, and I typically just grip stock with cutting joinery using this method.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    Low horses are typically used for timber work. I donít believe them to be commonly used for furniture making. Standard height horses combined with a planing beam are typically used instead of a workbench.

    I donít love ripping on horses but it certainly can be done.

    Butt clamp user for chopping, and I typically just grip stock with cutting joinery using this method.
    If I was clamping something with my butt, I'd want to make sure that I wasn't chopping too close to home. Caution is advised.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Dawson View Post
    If I was clamping something with my butt, I'd want to make sure that I wasn't chopping too close to home. Caution is advised.
    OK, perhaps watch some videos of woodworkers doing traditional work in Japan doing it this way for proper method.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    [edited]
    I donít love ripping on horses but it certainly can be done.
    Here is an old post of me ripping some ash on horses > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?167535

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    OK, perhaps watch some videos of woodworkers doing traditional work in Japan doing it this way for proper method.
    Yes of course, there's also that, with which I am more familiar. (Sorry Brian, you know I kid!)

  13. #13
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    Ah, I missed thst. You gotta add some smiley faces so I know your kidding.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  14. Even Toshio Odate, in his "Making Shoji" book (page 17 in my copy) resaws the kick panel for the shoji in a vise on a western style bench.

    I use my japanese saw horses quite a bit for ripping and crosscutting (not resawing, though) on the floor, and I think they work fine. I actually prefer that to cutting boards with Japanese saws in the vise on my western style workbench. I think the angle of the teeth on japanese saws are optimized for that style of working. But, perhaps I'm the odd person out on this one.
    Laird

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