Maximize Your Sawhorses

How to get the most from folding metal horses—and other breeds

Sawhorses can do much more than just hold up a piece of plywood. Even experienced carpenters will learn new tricks with these time-tested pro tips.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Channels add versatility

You gotta screw lumber to the top of a folding metal sawhorse anyway, so why not build a simple channel and turn your horse into a multi-trick pony?

Meet the Pro

I’ve been making sawdust for almost 40 years. During those four decades, I’ve used homemade sawhorses, store-bought horses and a few pulled from the trash. I’ve grown particularly fond of the folding metal sawhorses shown here. I own four pairs. They’re inexpensive, sturdy, easy to store and easy to set up, and they last darn near forever. So here are a few of my favorite tips for getting the most out of these old friends. And even if you don’t love folding metal horses like I do, read on anyway—many of these tips can be adapted to any kind of horse.

Spike Carlsen
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A bigger top is better

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Build a cutting grid

Figure A: Simple 1x4 Cutting Grid

Notched 1x4s create a solid “knockdown” cutting grid.

Cutting grid
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Add a platform

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Create a paint station

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Folding-horse roundup

There are dozens of styles at home centers and online. Most carpenters I know prefer the folding metal type, but some prefer other breeds. So here’s a roundup:

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Hearing protection
  • Jigsaw
  • Miter saw
  • Safety glasses

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Sawhorses
  • 2x4s, 2x6s, 2x8, 2x10, 2x12
  • Screws
  • 5 - 1x4x8 ft. (pine or oak)