My "minimalist" Saw Till
By D. Greco
Spring 2012

I got sick of seeing my full size saws on a pegboard or sitting propped on a shelf. They were constantly falling off or getting bumped. Besides, once I finish off those two new saws I'm building, where would they end up? So I decided it was high time I worked on my saw till.

At one time I designed an "Uber-sawtill" that could hold double or triple the amount of saws I own and would feature dovetailed drawers and a whole lot of fancy joinery. Then reality set it. This thing was frickin' HUGE! Where the hell was I going to put this? There just wasn't that much available free wall space in my rather small shop. Unless I could pull off a Dr. Who and make the inside of my garage bigger than the outside, it wasn't going to happen. So I did a quick about-face and figured that I could fit a wall mounted saw till that was about 2' wide and about 3' tall. Here's what I came up with.

small saw till drawing

I also decided that I would use what I had on hand rather than buying anything special for this. I had some pre-painted 1/2" MDO plywood
courtesy of my garage door project. And from my garage wall make over from several years back I had some of that 1/4" plywood bead board.

Part 1
I dusted off my router table, took my finger joint jig down from the shelf and cut the joinery that would hold the sides, top & bottom together. (What? You expected me to cut the finger joints in the plywood by hand? Nah! )

saw till carcass

Saw till carcass

I did use a block plane to cut the exposed finger joints flush with the cabinet sides The kerf board were pieces of an old recycled 2x4. The 1-1/4" dowel was the only thing I bought. I think it cost me $10. And I still have enough to make another saw handle holder! The kerf boards were placed so that I could store just about any size saw in there. But since my back saws are stored in my tool cabinet, this saw till will most likely only see panel and full sized saws. Oh, aside from the finger joints, and the rabbet for the back, all the other cuts were made with hand tools. I used a miter box to make the slots. I also used hand drills, eggbeaters, a push drill and a Yankee Screw Driver to install all the components. Here's a shot showing how this minimalist saw till can hold just about any saw I have.


sawtill test fit

I still need to widen the slots in the kerf board by a tad. They are just a smidge too snug. While testing the fit of all my saws I also discovered that the wooden dowel was mounted too high up from the base. None of my longer saws (like my big miter box saw) would fit. So I ditched the round "bar holders" that held the dowel in place and made a new set of square ones out of some scraps of apple. That changed the vertical dimension from the interior base of the cabinet to the center line of the dowel from 3-3/8" to 2-1/4" and the horizontal one (from the face of the cabinet to
to the center line of the dowel) from 2-3/8" to approx 1-3/4". Not a whole lot, But it made a huge difference.

I need to apply a finish to the bare wood parts and maybe paint the outside so it looks a bit nicer. Then I need to make a set of french cleats for hanging it on the wall. I plan on making a set of (lockable) doors for this and eventually adding a dehumidifier. I know I said "minimalist", but I never mentioned that I wouldn't be adding some neat features.

Part 2
I ended up really hosing it on the first set of parts I made for the doors. I destroyed the work pieces while trying to cut the mortises. I ended up making another set of parts for both doors.
The real trick was moving the mortise for the stiles inboard by 3/4". This gave me a lot more "meat" to absorb the force from the chisel work.

After making the tenons and then the mortises, I started on the groove for the panels. I used my No45 to start it.

cutting the groove
        with a No45

Then I moved to my router plate to clean it up.

cutting the groove
        with a router plane

Here's one door dry assembled
door assembly dry

And here they are against the cabinet for scale.
door assembly dry

The panels were cut to rough size and will be tweaked to fit once I get a chance.

Part 3
I applied a finish to the panels and allowed it to cure. Then I glued the assembly together.  After the glue dried over night I planed and scraped the rails and stiles to get a nice smooth surface.

doors with

doors with
I started installing the hinges last night and will most likely finish up tonight. Then I'll need to fine tune the door fit, remove the doors and apply a finish. Once that's done it'll be time to rearrange some of the stuff hanging on the walls and then hang the cabinet

Part 4
Here it is all hung up and ready to be used.
completed saw

completed saw

The doors were made from cedar and the panels are some luan plywood. I made the door panel grooves too wide but that actually was a good thing. I ended up gluing two panels unfinished-side to unfinished-side. So now both sides look good! Plus it made the doors more "substantial. The cabinet was painted was given several coats of satin white interior trim paint. The cedar portions were given several coats of Antique Oil Finish and wax.

There were a couple of things that dictated the size.
  1. I already store my back saws in my humidity controlled tool cabinet. And I like having them so close to my bench
  2. I don't have a boat load of wall space. So I designed this cabinet to fit the free wall space I DID have. It's wide enough to house some saws, but not so wide that it gets in the way of my bandsaw (which sits along that wall).
  3. It's size was also dictated by the materials I had on hand. Remember, this is made entirely of SCRAP material from several different projects. The only things I bought were the 1-1/4" wooden dowel (for about $10) the door pulls ($4.00), the piano hinges (about $12) and the magnetic closures ($3.00)
I still need to install a lock of some sort and eventually I'll add a Goldenrod Dehumidifier. But for now I'm done. I mean,...other than trying to find a spot for all the assorted stuff this cabinet misplaced!