Workmate Sawbuck





Introduction: Workmate Sawbuck

About: Emeritus Professor of Mathematics.

With two simple wooden crosspieces, a Workmate becomes a solid and stable sawbuck. 

Step 1:

The jaws of the Workmate clamp and hold the sawbuck vee pieces securely. 

Step 2:

These photos show in detail how the Workmate jaws hold the sawbuck pieces.  They are gripped from above and below in a wedging manner and 'alternate' in such a way that great lateral stability is realized.

Step 3:

The vees shown here were made from 13" lengths of good 2x4.  They are actually "X" shapes with two short legs, the latter being long enough for the Workmate jaws to grip from below as shown in the previous step.  The short legs on the prototype shown here are about 1-1/2" long.

The angle between the legs is about 85° which is the largest angle our Workmate jaws would accommodate.

Four 3" deck screws hold each crosspiece together - two from one side and two from the other.  A tight clearance hole was drilled through the 'top' piece to preclude splitting which would adversely affect rigidity.  Also, waterproof glue was used to ensure absolute rigidity (but mostly because this tinkerer likes to use glue !).

Step 4:

The strength and rigidity of this setup is somewhat amazing.  Most of our tree limbs are cut on site to around 4 or 4-1/2 feet in length (to fit into our tractor bucket).  That length of a say 10" diameter chunk is pretty heavy for this old guy to set up on a sawbuck, so it only gets up there with several bumps, knocks, and nudges.  The Workmate sawbuck has so far taken all that in stride.  And once a log is in place on the sawbuck, it is held solidly by the vees.  The lateral stability really leaves nothing to be desired and the wide stance of the Workmate is as secure a foundation as any amateur woodcutter would want.

Some rotation will sometimes occur when attacking a smaller diameter log in a wooden sawbuck.  We use a bandsaw with a 3TPI blade to cut wood 3" in diameter and under, but if a sawbuck was to be used on a lot of smaller stock, then some 'teeth' could be improvised in the lower part of the vees - say some stout nails driven in and heads clipped off leaving maybe 1/4" high studs.

The vees can be clamped in the Workmate separated by various distances.  The placement shown here handles most of our cutting.  A long log is first cut in the middle, between the vees, and the two halves fall to the ground.  Each piece is then placed in the sawbuck and again cut in half as illustrated here.  Our wood burning stove is a small one, so we aim at lengths of 12" to 14" for firewood.

Step 5:

Of course the vees can be set a little farther apart or closer together as shown in the photos here.  The sawbuck dutifully held the short chunk of log shown for lengthwise cutting (done just as a fun test of the sawbuck).

Step 6:

This sawbuck can be setup quickly anywhere it is needed and taken down for storage with virtually no more space required than the Workmate itself takes up, which folds up into quite a compact package.  Ideal for the weekend woodcutter !



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    18 Discussions


    1 year ago

    This design seemed to be just the thing for my occasional wood cutting needs, however I ran into a problem: my workmate would not open wide enough to allow the two Vs (or Xs) to be set in place. My workmate 200 is just like the one picture, but older -- I got mine in the early 1980s. The widest it will open is about 5-1/8 inches, which isn't wide enough to rotate the Vs into position. I'm thinking I will rip the 2x4s so that they are an inch or so narrower and see it that works. Despite my problem, the design seems sound and it was easy to make.

    2 replies

    Our Workmate 200 dates back to around 1994. When fully open, the jaw opening is 5-7/16”. When the sawbuck crosses are clamped tight, the jaws are 5-3/16” apart.

    Reducing the width of the crosspieces would do the trick for you, but it probably will not need a full 1” taken off. Try say 1/4” at first, or experiment on a few scraps. Alternately, you could trim 5/16” off of one of the Workmate jaws (assuming it will still close up) , or decrease the 85° angle a little.

    Thanks for the feedback. I'll take your advice and experiment with some scraps to find the correct change to make. I'll let you know what I figure out. Thanks again for the idea, and the help.

    Nice and simple. I see you understand K.I.S.S.
    I've been looking for a way to hold sections as I cut bowl blanks, with some modification this could do nicely. Definitely do the nail bit and perhaps use bolts at the joints, so as the workmate closes the log would be held tighter.

    I like the frontloader, I sure could use one! Cool chain saw too. Never seen one like that. Greenworks brand ? Who sells them ?

    1 reply

    That 12" cordless electric chainsaw did all the cutting shown in the photographs of this Instructable. It's not as fast as gas, but quite capable for small jobs and very very handy! Many sellers on and off line carry it.

    Great idea to expand the multifunctionality of the workmate.

    This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing this. I will be making this soon.

    One question. Do you undercut the logs (between the Vs) with this setup? Seems like it would be difficult to not damage the Workmate top.

    2 replies

    All sawbucks in which the log simply simply rests within vees are intended for cutting only in the downward direction ! It is the presence of the saw pushing down from above and the vees below that captures the log and ensures that the log stays put. So the rule is do not cut from below in any such sawbuck.

    As to possible damage to the Workmate surface…well...our 'mate is a veteran of 19 years - purchased when finishing off our present country home. Its surface bears the scars of its long devoted service to us, so no thought was given to maybe adding a few more bruises. It has only happened a few times so far, but avoiding further damage is really a wise idea - thank you for bringing it up !

    Why don't we make a sacrificial top to lay down over the good top? A piece of 3/4" plywood placed between the vees and covering both jaws would do the trick. Fastening a cleat to the bottom of this plywood sub-table that just drops into the opening between the jaws of the 'mate would keep it where we want it. Another idea would be to lay a 2x4 on top of each jaw with dowel pegs attached that match and drop into the Workmate holes.

    Yes, I saw your log clamping jaws and admired its elegant design very much - would be especially useful for notching, carving, and really all sorts of shaping work on logs.

    dear me - THIS is the most useful "why the hell didn't I think of that" instructables in recent memory - thanks

    a simple but very clever idea. Just what I need . thank you very much.

    great concept. I think I'll be making one of those.

    This is very clever and useful. The instructions are very clear. Great job!