Build an Economical Sawhorse

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

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    To view the construction details, click on the Image Gallery, above. The construction details are the third image.
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    The first step is to cut the 2 by 4s, using the illustration as a guide.
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    Diagram: Foolproof plans for an economical sawhorse.

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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.

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.

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