Tip 1: Build a five-minute workbench
Sawhorses are used for
sawing wood, right?
Well, yes… and no. The
truth is that pros use
sawhorses as a lot more
than just unpaid cutting
assistants. In fact, with a
little creativity, sawhorses
can be one of the most
useful tools in your
One of the best ways to get the
most out of your “ponies” is to set up a semipermanent workstation
when you're trimming or framing
larger or longer-term projects. Screw 2x4s
to the tops and a plywood platform to the
2x4s and you're ready to build. Let the
2x4s project a few inches beyond the plywood
to make it easier for someone to help
you pick up the whole works and move it
around as needed. To keep the clutter out
from underfoot, install a plywood shelf
across the braces.
This workbench folds up in a single piece, except for the lower shelf that you lift out before folding the legs. It's easy to throw whole thing into the back of a pick-up when helping a friend or neighbor.
Tip 2: Make instant scaffolding
Don't totter on stepladders to
do work less than 10 ft.
above the ground. Make a crude, but
safe, scaffolding plank with plywood
and 2x4s up to 8 ft. long. Be sure to
add end blocks to keep the long 2x4s
from folding up while you're working.
Build longer planks if you want, but
use 2x6s for lengths between 8 and 12 ft.
Set the sawhorses so they sit level and so their legs won't rock or sink into the ground. Make sure the scaffolding board is stable before standing on it.
Tip 3: Wider caps are better
Don't cap metal sawhorses
2x6s are a better choice. You'll
get a larger working area and be
able to clamp stuff to the overhanging
sides (photo; Tip 4).
Anchor the 2x6s from the undersides
with No. 12-3/4-in.-long
screws. Don't use longer screws
or you'll be breaking saw blade
teeth every once in a while. If you
want to hang your sawhorses up
and out of the way, let the ends
run a few inches too long and
drill holes in them (photo; Tip 4).
Tip 4: Wooden tops are made to wreck
Don't be afraid
to cut into
your tops! Set your
blade to cut 1/4 in.
deeper than the thickness
of the wood and
cut right through the
tops. They'll still last
Tip 5: You can quickly build strong sawhorses
Need extra horses right now? You can make a pair by
cutting five 8-ft. 2x4s into six 32-in. lengths and eight
Screw the 32-in. pieces into I-beam shapes and, after
you've drilled pilot holes, attach the legs to the I-beams
with 3-in. screws. These screws, along with the upper
edge of the I-beam, stabilize the legs.
Or customize the lengths and heights to suit your purpose.
But you're on your own with the numbers!
Simple Homemade Sawhorse Details
This 2x4 sawhorse design is strong and doesn't require angle cuts.
Tip 6: Get yourself two sets of sawhorses
Don't settle for
one pair of
horses! You'll always
need another set or at
least half of another set.
If, for example, you need
a quick platform for cutting
two horses end to end
with a third one in the
middle, perpendicular to
the first two. Make sure
the cutting line is supported
by the middle
horse. Two sets of horses
both the same height will
always be the most useful.
Tip 7: Give your portable table saw outfeed support
Convert a portable table saw
into a stationary saw by resting
the saw table edges on two overhanging
2x4s. Adjust the placement of the
boards so the saw is well supported
but as far apart as possible so they
won't interfere with the fence, and
then screw them to the horses. To hold
the saw in place, screw through the
holes in the saw table (drill 'em if you
have to) into the 2x4s. You can use a
piece of plywood for outfeed support,
shimming it so it's even with the table
top. But the best outfeed support is a
hollow-core door (damaged ones are
$20 or less at home centers!). A door is
the perfect thickness for most saw
tables (maybe a little shimming
required), and it can do double duty as
a lightweight portable workbench.
Outfeed table for table saw
Outfeed Support Table
Make a pair of sawhorses plus an old door the same height as your saw table to make an outfeed table. In this case the long 2x4s that support the door also support the portable table saw.
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Tip 8: Make handy painting and drying racks
Create a drying platform
when you have to finish
miles of siding or trim, cabinet
doors or just about anything else.
The platform is simple—just a couple
of 2x4s spanning the sawhorses.
After each piece is finished,
transfer it right to the platform.
Start in the middle and work your
way to each end. That'll keep the
whole works from toppling over
and causing a disaster.