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Sawhorse Plans

Sawhorses are an essential construction tool, and this article highlights 5 of the best—3 DIY designs, with complete plans, and two off-the-shelf favorites.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Sawhorse Plans

Sawhorses are an essential construction tool, and this article highlights 5 of the best—3 DIY designs, with complete plans, and two off-the-shelf favorites.

A quick-and-dirty sawhorse that's rock-solid

Framing carpenters usually build these horses when they show up at a job site. They leave them behind for the other subcontractors to use, then build new ones at their next job. It's not unusual for the new homeowner to inherit a pair and hold on to them for years.

Features: Inexpensive, easy to build, super strong
Cost: $12 each
Time: 10 to 15 minutes each (using a pneumatic nail gun)
Skill level: Beginner

Mark's sawhorse plan

Mark's sawhorse plan

Mark Peterson – Contributing Editor

Mark Peterson – Contributing Editor

Mark's sawhorse plan

Go get two 12-ft. 2x4s and one 10-ft. 2x4. Using 16d nails or 3-in. screws, assemble the three boards that make up the I-beam. Attach the legs, using a framing square to square the legs to the beam. Attach the rails last. You're done, so get to work.

Mark Petersen is a Contributing Editor at The Family Handyman.

A true classic that will last for a lifetime—or more

Here's a design that's been around for a hundred years—maybe longer. It's low, so you can use your knee to hold down your work. The compound miters make this one a little trickier to build than the others, but if you take one component at a time and label them as you go, in a couple of hours you'll have a pair of sawhorses that your own grandkids will be proud to replicate someday.

We simplified this one a little bit. On the version Ken made, the legs are mortised into the edge of a non-tapered top board. To make this horse, you need one 8-ft. 2x6 and two 8-ft. 1x6s.

Features: Inexpensive, elegant, light, stackable, strong
Cost: $12 each
Time: one hour each
Skill level: Intermediate

Ken's sawhorse plan

Ken's sawhorse plan

Ken Collier—Editor in Chief

Ken Collier—Editor in Chief

Ken's sawhorse plan

Top: Cut the top to length first, then taper the edges on a table or circular saw. All the angles on this horse are 13 degrees. (If you're the superstitious sort, cut your angles at 12.99 degrees.)
Legs: It helps to cut the legs close to their actual size beforehand so you can hold them up and visualize the direction of the cut and the orientation of the bevel. After cutting the legs to size, reset your circular saw to 90 degrees and taper the legs. Mark the taper line 3-1/2 in. over on the bottom of the leg up to the bottom of the gusset. Lay the top board upside down on a flat surface and attach each leg with three 2-in. screws.
Gussets: Trim the top and bottom edges of the gusset boards with parallel 13-degree angles. Mark one gusset using the sawhorse and copy the other three from that template.

Ken Collier is Editor in Chief at The Family Handyman.

A folding sawhorse with a built-in shelf

Some sawhorses have a shelf and some fold up, but Jeb's design combines both features. And he's right—these horses are fun to build. To make a pair, you'll need a 4 x 4-ft. sheet of 3/4-in. plywood, one 8-ft. 2x6, one 8-ft. 2x4, two 12-ft. 2x4s and eight hinges.

Features: Foldable, includes a shelf, fun to build
Cost: $40 each
Time: One hour each
Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

Jeb's sawhorse plan

Jeb's sawhorse plan

Jeb—Field Editor

Jeb—Field Editor

Jeb's sawhorse plan

Legs: After cutting the top 2x6 to length, cut both sides of each leg at a 15-degree angle. Make sure the angles are parallel. Fasten hinges to the ends of two of the legs, then attach those legs by fastening the hinges to the top piece. Attach the other two legs with 3-in. screws.
Shelf: Cut the 2x4 that supports one side of the shelf. Mark a line 8 in. up from the bottom of the leg, line up the bottom of the 2x4 with that line, and attach it with two 3-in. screws on each side. Cut the shelf to size and notch the two corners using a jigsaw. Fasten the hinges to the shelf, then use two 11-1/8-in. blocks of wood to temporarily hold the shelf in place while you fasten the hinged side of the shelf to the legs. Cut a 23-3/4-in. x 1-1/2-in. strip of plywood to overlap the 2x4 shelf brace. Attach it with wood glue and 1-1/4- in. screws. You may have to trim it a bit before fastening.

Jeb, a Field Editor from Fairport, NY, is a chiropractor by trade. When he's not busy adjusting spines, you can find him assembling wine racks for his friends and family (probably using his favorite sawhorses).

Space-saving sawhorses

These metal foldable horses can be hung on a wall or stacked in a corner. And if you have to drag horses from one job to another, these are the ones for you. But be careful not to pinch a finger folding them up.

Travis is particularly fond of the EBCO brand—he claims to own a dozen of them.

Features: Inexpensive, foldable, strong
Cost: $18 each, plus the cost of the top board

Sawhorses loaded with features

We asked our Field Editors to pick their favorite sawhorse, and the most popular by far was the FatMax. The top has notches, making it a great place to hold sacrificial 2x4s when you're cutting up plywood and other sheet goods. Each leg is adjustable, which is pretty handy when you're working on uneven ground. They have a built-in shelf and fold up relatively flat, making them perfect for storing on the wall.

Features: Foldable, includes a shelf, adjustable legs
Cost: $37 each

Back to Top

Required Tools for this Project

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

    • Hammer
    • Miter saw
    • Air compressor
    • Air hose
    • Cordless drill
    • Circular saw
    • Framing square
    • Hearing protection
    • 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.

    • 2 x 4s
    • 2 x 6
    • 1 x 6
    • 3/4-in. plywood
    • 16d common nails
    • 3-in. screws
    • 2-in. screws
    • 3 1/2-in. hinges

Comments from DIY Community Members

Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.

1 - 3 of 3 comments
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July 14, 4:52 PM [GMT -5]

I built two of Mark Peterson's favourite sawhorses this afternoon and they were pretty easy to put together (I'm referring to the one with the I-beam at the top), although I definitely didn't come in at 10 to 15 per sawhorse! Probably more like an hour each. 3" screws at the top and 2.5" screws for the leg braces did a good job.

Regarding the wood required, you really need one 12' 2x4 and two 10' 2x4's for each sawhorse, otherwise you waste about 5' of lumber. Build the legs out of the 12' length, the I-beam out of one of the 10' lengths, and the leg bracing out of the other 10' length.

If you have a van which can only hold 10' lengths without having to tie the hatch down, substitute the 12' length for two 6' lengths (two legs each).

March 05, 11:33 PM [GMT -5]

I also made the folding horses and couldn't be happier with the way they turned out. I too adjusted the height slightly to match other features in my workshop. One other change I made was to add a sacrificial 2x4 to the top of the horses. This should help,keep them in great shape for many decades. They are that sturdy!

January 15, 3:28 PM [GMT -5]

Made the folding sawhorses this weekend and they are great! I changed the height of them to match the height of my workbench when my portable worktop is on top. Definitely attach the hinges on the sawhorse legs before attaching the other set of sawhorse legs, since securing the screw in a closed angle is a little difficult. Otherwise, real easy to make! Thanks!

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