How to cut wood when you have almost no equipment in your garage…

We went to Lowe’s and picked out the wood we needed – the birch plywood and white wood for the shelf supports. For our closet bookshelves project. I thought Lowe’s would cut the white wood to size for us, but they said they didn’t do “project cuts.” At least our two plywood boards were ripped into into 10 shelves… for free!

Now, what to do about the white wood? We decided to get a hand saw. We went home with the wood in our car, grateful we have a bigger car than the mustang I used to own.

When it was time to cut the white wood with the handsaw, I was stumped. Do I just hold the wood and saw away? I needed something to hold it down. I needed saw legs, some clamps, and better planning skills! I had some teeny-tiny clamps that we used for my jewelry dresser, but they wouldn’t fit on the edges of the table.

I asked Sean, our temp roomie, if he had any ideas. He suggested us to use the pallets we had in the garage and clamp the wood to that. Genius, Sean! If you keep this up, your rent just might go away.

Tools needed: clamps, measuring tape, L-ruler, a pencil, a handsaw, a pallet, and of course, a bottle of beer.

Put a pallet on its back on the table. Clamp the wood to the… “legs” of the pallet. Saw away.

Yes, I did all the sawing myself while Nick mowed the grass. It was fun – I haven’t worked with wood since shop class in middle school.

It’s better if you can clamp the wood on two sides and saw in the middle, as seen below (that’s Nick’s hand, FYI. I do not have man hands).

We needed a total of 40 pieces and I sawed them all! I also sanded the edges smooth while watching Friends on my laptop in our garage. Whatever works!

And yes, we will suck it up and purchase some real tools and equipment soon. But we made do, for now!

Next step: Priming them!


13 Responses

  1. good job! I’m a tool junkie, I have an addition to power tools. Sometimes I still grab a handsaw for small jobs and it makes me reminiscent of simpler times.

    Whats your project?

  2. I would recommend investing in a “sawzall” aka. a reciprocating saw – they’re fab. What project are the wooden strips for?

  3. Geez, I forgot to mention that it’s for the closet bookshelves. The wood strips will be the shelf supports. Adding that bit of info now!

  4. Holy crap, my hand would fall off if I had to use a hand saw! We have a miter saw that gets a workout on a regular basis. Just a Ryobi $100 special, but it works awesome!

    Note to self: buy plywood from Lowes where they actually will cut it for you!

  5. Building bookshelves “old school style”. I love it! You’ll appreciate them all the more! I can’t wait to see the finished closet. Well done!

  6. […] 29, 2010 While I’m still stuck in my garage priming my wood, I thought I’d take a break and tell you how much I love thrift […]

  7. I so identify with having no space and no tools. We once used our two barstools as a sawhorse and sawed wood right in our foyer. (With a handsaw. It was rough.)

    A pallet works. Use what you’ve got.

  8. […] be done between 40 and 90 degrees). These are for our closet bookshelves. Yes, that project that I started eons ago. There was a lot of headaches with measuring, remeasuring, recutting, paint drying time, laziness, […]

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  10. alot of work and hard work..good work out too i have to cut wood now to make a table here we go again lol great job people keep up

  11. im gonna build a house next to the building i bought in mexico alot of work but its worth it. i love building things.just learning too. i just want to help the kids and the family down moving soon down there. everyone good luck keep up the good hard work.never give up!!!!!!

  12. this is not how to cut wood with a hand saw

  13. I just found you in a google search. Thanks so much. I’m at a similar stage of skills and I was worried about getting injured making some shelves with power tools. I feel I can do a hobby project with those simple tools. Will let you know how I go.

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