Build an Economical Sawhorse

Build an economical sawhorse for your homestead that will look like pure gold to the hassled handyperson.


To view the construction details, click on the Image Gallery, above. The construction details are the third image.


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Build an economical sawhorse for $6 and minimal effort. (See the sawhorse diagram and photo in the image gallery.)

Build an Economical Sawhorse

Though the traditional sawhorse is a staple of every construction site, there's always room for improvement . . . and if a wobbly workstand and an unwieldy 2 by 4 ever combined to give you an unkind cut, you might be interested in knocking together our "foolproof" framing horse.

Take a look at the design. The longitudinal trough at the top is sized to accommodate a 2 by 4 of any length, and prevents it from skewing under pressure from the saw. The crosswise channel near the center of the horse lets the blade pass through the work freely, and the flush, 1 foot by 3 foot surface serves as a compact bench for hammering or measuring.

Perhaps best of all is the fact that the whole project can be put together from three 8-foot 2 by 4s and a scrap of 1 by 4, at a cost roughly equivalent to that of just one pair of conventional sawhorse brackets. Nearly as tempting, it'll require only a handsaw, a hammer, and a tape measure to build.

The first step is to cut the 2 by 4s, using the illustration as a guide. Pay particular attention to the 10-1/4 inch crosspieces at the top, as they must be trimmed at a slight angle to butt squarely against the splayed legs. Likewise, when cutting the 1/2 inch by 3-1/2 inch corner notches in the 14 inch and 19 inch platform boards, use that same angle to assure a good fit. The 36 inch brace rails should also be notched slightly at their upper corners for the same reason; a 1/4 inch indentation measured at the surface will suffice.

Next, using 8-penny common nails, fasten the legs to the sides of the brace rails at the notches. There should be 3 inches of 2 by 4 protruding beyond the upper surface of the rails, and the legs ought to join those bars perpendicularly. Once that's done, you can connect the two halves of the horse by nailing the two 10-1/4 inch cross braces between the ends, and the 10-3/4 inch struts near the center . . . one 14 inch from one end, and the other 19 inch from the other, leaving a 3 inch space between.

Finish up by laying the platform boards over the cross braces and nailing them down (make sure a sample 2 by 4 slips between them). Drive a few more fasteners through the sides of the legs and into the ends of the short braces and the edges of the corner notches, then lock the whole shebang up tight by cutting your scrap of 1 by 4 into two 16 inch lengths and tacking each one between the outer edges of each leg set, about 6" up from the bottom. Finally, check the joints and trim any protruding corners with the handsaw to make sure they're flush.

At first, you'll probably be taken with the fact that this cutting bench makes stud trimming a breeze, because the lumber stays where you put it and the blade doesn't tend to bind. But after a while, you'll begin to realize that it works with shorter boards as well, and gives you the option of using a circular saw in the center or a handsaw at the ends. Then too, it could be lengthened if necessary to provide additional support for even longer pieces.

Any way you cut it, it'd be hard to beat this pony for the price . . . especially when you consider that one does the work of two.

4/22/2010 2:24:48 PM

35 years as journeyman carpenter has taught me many things but foremost is most sawhorses laymen build are way to heavy 'n lack versatility. For sawing, one level scaffolding, or bucking a door (installing butt hinges), nothing beats a woodbutcher sawhorse: made using 42" of 2x4, 'n 20' of 1x4s. First make a pair of upside down tees from two 8.5" long 2x4s with 15-deg bevel (inward facing). Then in the center of each base, fasten two 12" 2x4 uprights. Now cut 1x4s to make four 24" legs and three 48" cross pieces. Mark 3.5" back (opposite ends) on two cross pieces, position face side of each fabbed tee (inside of these marks), flush with top 2x4 'n nail in place at both places. Flip over 'n attach other cross piece in same manner. Now, place leg butted under cross piece with portion atop beveled tee member 'n nail. Repeat until all legs are attached. Nail final cross piece on one side of horse where tee base is, to give sawhorse rigidity 'n serve as step up when scaffold boards are being used. To buck a door set edge of door in the gap betw top cross members (outer end of horse) 'n using a shim, secure it in place or widen gap as needed. Make two sawhorses, which are lightweight, stackable, 'n inexpensive..!!

bob robblee
4/19/2009 9:28:13 AM

Any update on the original sawhorse is good. For some 30 years I have used a variation of it by adding a table top made with two 2 x 12s. Cut two end supports about 24 inches long of 2 x 4 and attach them to the ends of the saw horse. Nail the 2 x 12s {Any combination of 2" lumber can be used to make the tabletop} to the supports and leave a 4-6 inch space between them. Now, you can cut anything, including sheeting with ONE sawtable. Add cross bracing on the legs for further sturdiness.

larry emmons
4/9/2009 10:00:31 AM

When I make it, I will basically use their idea but make the opening for a 2X8 and have blocks of wood that I can put in opening to bring it down to other sizes such as 2X6, 2X4 etc. More versatile that way.

4/9/2009 7:26:00 AM

Please let me know where to find plans or drawings for the $6 sawhorse. It's not in the article.

4/8/2009 3:11:14 PM

Click the "Image Gallery" link in the "Article Tools" box for a detailed measured drawing.

4/8/2009 2:58:24 PM

The plan is picture 3 in the image gallery: Also, it would be easy to convert this into a workbench by adding a piece of plywood with a 2x4 underneath.

brent leishman
4/8/2009 12:07:09 PM

Yes please let us know where to find plans or drawings for the $6 sawhorse. It's not in the article.

4/8/2009 9:54:48 AM

The measured drawing for that $6 sawhorse never showed up in the actual article, just in a blurry way in the emailed teaser. Is it possible to find the illustration somewhere? I do think I'd like to make this.