Hi all... I'm new here and newER to woodworking and I need some help please. I'm building a workbench (first project) - found a simple plan on the internet. I need to cut notches in the legs (2x6) to accept the cross rails(also 2x6). I don't have a table saw, but I have access to a power handsaw which I've never actually used - so I'm a bit nervous. Can I cut these notches with a hand saw and then chisel out?
First, I'd have to ask ..What exactly do you mean by a "power handsaw"? Is this a Skilsaw i.e. circular saw? Jig saw?
Second, if you've never used a hand held circular saw, you'll need to have someone show you how to operate it, or this will be one of those stories we read about... you know, the stories where people get hurt.
If you're going to "learn" this on your own, please read the manual and get a book on basic woodworking, and practice with someone helping/watching/guiding if at all possible. Unless you know the basics, that saw can, and will bite
HandyGirl- Yes, you can absolutely use a handsaw and chisel out the waste. That, in fact, is a wonderful way to do it. The more comfortable you are with handtools, the better your work with power tools will be.
A couple hints for you. Cut several kerfs into the waste with the handsaw before bringing out the chisels. That is, if the notch is to be 3 inches wide, make your handsaw cuts on your lines that define the width of the notch, and also through the waste parallel to those intial cuts. That way you won't have as much to chisel out and it will go much quicker.
Make sure your first two cuts along your line that define the notch are just inside the line. This will ensure a tight fit and give it much more strength. If its too tight, you can always make it a bit bigger, but you can't go the other way!
Also make sure your chisel(s) are sharp! A dull chisel will make the work very frustrating, slow and inaccurate.
Hope this all made sense. It sounds like you have a fun project, good luck!
Kevin... thank you for the suggestions and the encouragement. I would prefer to use a hand tool - do you think a pull saw would be better for me with limited upper body strength? or does it matter? I'm just concerned that the cuts be straight.
by the way, I understood the process you explained to reduce the chiseling time of the excess in the notches, but what exactly is a KERF? I understand how to make the cuts along the lines, but not sure about the parallel cuts - wouldn't I run the risk of cutting into the parts of the legs that need to be solid??
anyway, I'll just wing it.... Thanks for your patience.
The kerf is the channel, or groove, left by your saw when you make a cut. If your saw's blade is 1/8" thick, when you make a saw cut, your kerf is 1/8". An expample would be, if you want a notch 2" wide, 1" deep.
1) Cut the left edge of your notch so that the left side of the saw blade is just inside your line and 1" deep. (You have just cut a kerf, or a cut the width of your blade)
2) Cut the right edge of your notch so that the right side of the saw blade is just inside your line and 1" deep. (you just cut another kerf)
3) Now, you have to remove all that stuff between your two cuts, down to 1". Before chiseling it all out, make numerous cuts just like your first two, starting just to the right of your first cut and continuting to your rightmost cut.
4) What you are left with are cuts about 1/8" apart, 1" deep. The waste that is left will be easy to get out with a chisel.
It shouldn't matter what kind of hand saw you use. A backsaw or bowsaw would be the most traditional, but a coping saw, tenon saw, or whatever you've got will work. Whether it cuts on the pull stroke or push stroke is personal preference and shouldn't matter.
Does that clear it up at all? :) If not, I'll keep trying :) :) It really is simpler than I've managed to explain it!
Acually cheaper than a couple classes (although classes certainly are fun and helpful and highly recommended) is to go the library and get a couple books on basic wookworking. They are usually easy to read and understand. Searching the archives here will give you an endless list of titles to start with, although any basic book will get you started. Also, may I suggest adding Norm's "The New Yankee Workshop" to your TV lineup? Its woodworking specific, but watch out, you may get hooked :)