Introduction: Adjustable Saw Horses

Picture of Adjustable Saw Horses

Ever wished that your saw horses were adjustable to fit the different tasks that you use them for? Depending on what the project is, varying the height of the work top can be more ergonomic and reduce stress and fatigue on the body. The design was developed by using multiple thicknesses of wood but can be modified to use standard dimension lumber. The final size and dimensions can easily be changed to fit the size needed.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Tools

  • Table saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Drill press
    • 1" forstner bit
    • Countersink bit
  • Drill
    • phillips head drill bit
    • 3/16" drill bit
  • Sander with sand paper

Hardware

  • 76 - 1 1/4 wood screws
  • Wood glue

Lumber

  • 17" (432mm) - 1" (25.4mm) wood dowel Dowel pin
  • 2 - 1"x2"x8' boards (25.4x50.8x2438.4mm) Support rail
    • The dimension thickness is 3/4" x 1 1/2 (19.1x38.1mm)
  • 5 - 1"x3"x8' boards (25.4x76.2x2438.4mm) Top rail, extensions, and top leg rail
    • The dimension thickness is 3/4" x 2 1/2 (19.1x63.2mm)

  • 3 - 1"x4"x8' boards (25.4x101.6x2438.4mm) Ties and legs
    • The demension thickness is 3/4"x 3 1/2" (19.1x88.9mm)
  • 1 - 2" x 4" x 8' stud (or 8/4 lumber) Angled leg rail

Step 2: Cut the Angled Leg Rail and Legs

Picture of Cut the Angled Leg Rail and Legs

This is probably the most difficult part of the entire project. This is because I wanted to try compound angles.

Rip legs to 3" or desired width and cut 2" (50.8mm) longer than final dimensions. Surface and prepare 2x4 stud or 8/4 material to have the angle cut. Make the piece a little longer than final dimension.

To cut the angle on the leg rail, set the table saw to 15 degrees and rip fence to 3/4" (19.1mm) from the blade. Cut the 2x4 stud or 8/4 material. This will be trimmed after the angle is cut. Cut the angle/bevel on the table saw. Four pieces are needed for this project

With the saw set up at 15 degrees, the legs can also be cut on the the table saw. Mark an "x" on one face of each leg. Set the miter gauge to 10 degrees. Cut all legs with the "x" facing up. You do not need to cut a lot off, just enough to transfer the entire angle through the leg.

Set the miter gauge to -20 degrees. Set a stop on the miter gauge so that all legs are cut at the same length. With the "X" facing down cut the opposite side of the leg. I have added a chart to the drawings showing what length of leg and the over height of the saw horse.

I choose to use a miter saw because I get more consistent results quicker with a miter saw. The procedure is basically the same. Mark one side of the legs with an "X". Set the saw at a 15" angle. Use a test piece to make sure that it is the same angle that was cut on the saw. Then set the fence angle to 10 degree. Cut one side of the legs with the "X" facing up. Set the fence angle to -10 degrees. Set a stop to make sure that all the legs are all the same length. Cut the legs to length with the "X" facing down. Eight legs are needed for this project.

Step 3: Cut and Drill the Rest of the Componants

Picture of Cut and Drill the Rest of the Componants

Cut out all remaining components to size.

Mark and drill holes in the support rail, top rail, ties, and extensions. Countersink holes where noted.

This is a good time to do an initial sanding to remove any tool marks.

Step 4: Glue Leg Rails and Top Rails Together

Picture of Glue Leg Rails and Top Rails Together

Glue leg rail assembly together. I did two at a time to save on clamps. The ends should be even.

The support rails are designed so the screws do not meet. Mark the same edge on all the parts. You should be able to line up all the parts and look through the holes. Then mark the top edge. This marked edge will be where the glue goes.

Put glue on the support rail and place 1 1/2" (38.1mm) from the edge of the top rail. Note that he countersink holes face out, not flush to the the top rail. Clamp in place. Drill pilot holes in the support rails from the top rails. Screw in 1 5/8" wood screws into the top rail.

Step 5: Assemble Lower Leg Assembly

Picture of Assemble Lower Leg Assembly

Mark and drill holes in the legs. Make sure to mark the correct side and end. I marked the holes about 1 1/8" (28.6mm) from the top. You want about 3/8-1/2" (9.5-12.7mm) from the bottom edge of the leg rail.

Mark 4 3/4" (120.7mm) from the end of the leg rail. This is the location of the leg. Pilot hole into the leg rail through the leg. Add glue and attach using 1 5/8" wood screws. Do this for each of the sides of the leg assemblies.

Take two leg assemblies, two extensions and 4 business cards and clamp them together. The business cards provide the space that so the extensions can move up and down. I tried it with one and it was too tight. Make sure when you clamp it up, there is enough room to attach the large tie in the middle of the assembly. The large tie should be attached in the middle of the assembly. Do not add the small ties at this time. Repeat this step for the second leg assembly.

Step 6: Assemble the Upper Section

Picture of Assemble the Upper Section

Round over the holes on the extensions. I used 1/4" (6.4mm). They seemed a little much but it helps insert the dowel in the hole.

Mark upper leg assemblies 3 1/2" (89 mm) from the edge of the top rail support. This is where the edge of the extensions will be. Glue and clamp the extensions to the top rails. Check to make sure these are square and flush to the top of the top rails. Pilot hole where the countersunk holes are ans put screws in. Repeat for second top section.

Cut dowels and sand edges.

Dry fit the two sections together.

Step 7: Add the Small Ties and Complete

Picture of Add the Small Ties and Complete

With the upper and lower sections together, turn upside down (do not have the dowels in at this point). Line up the upper and lower sections. Place two business cards between the extension and the small tie. Pilot and screw in the small tie. Do the same for the other side. Repeat for the other leg assembly. Add the small ties on each end.

Take the upper and lower sections apart and sand. Finish if desired.

Step 8: Notes and Discoveries

Picture of Notes and Discoveries

After building this project there are a couple of things that I have learned and worth mentioning.

  • These are great as saw horses. I would not use it to replace as a workbench for heavy woodworking such as chopping mortises and dove tails.
  • The gaps to allow the extensions to move up and down do allow for a little movement.
  • They are strong.
  • The design is based off of something I saw at Ikea.
  • Works great as an assembly and finishing table.

This is a project to fit a need. It was a fun build and simple. Please let me know if you have any feedback. Please visit my blog for other plans and ideas.

Comments

bqanderson (author)2017-02-27

I was showing my friend my instructable and came across a similar design. They made theirs stack-able and had some interesting insight to making it more stable. Here is a link to the other design: https://www.instructables.com/id/adjustable-wood-sawhorse/

Charliefarm (author)2017-02-17

may I ask what type of timber did you use?

adamsonphoto. (author)2017-02-16

OK this one I just have to do. Would help so much when working on an incline with one horse lower. Beats putting 2x6's under the legs!

Great instruct and thanks for the excellent PDF.

MolnarL1 (author)2017-02-16

Thanks!

DodgeD (author)2017-02-16

Nice job, the adjustability is a plus, but I always have a issue with stability on saw horses, with the legs to the horizontal board.Kind of under engineered in design at those points. ( which is the most important ) There never is enough support there. There kind of good when new but then things start to get loose as you use them more and even worse in a commercial application. screws give , bolt holes elongate , glue gives out and so on even though this unit looks nice it looks pretty unsupported in those areas for good long stability over time. Do you think it will pass the rock and roll test over time ? But it is a good looking pair of horses.

bqanderson (author)DodgeD2017-02-16

You are right about the rigidity and becoming loose. Time will tell. I do agree the legs are unsupported at the lower section. This will cause a problem for heavy loads. I do not expect it to hold granite slabs to work on. I do expect it to hold a couple of kids jumping on them. My kids will put them through some extensive testing. Thank you for your feed back.

b.sharp.diminished (author)2017-02-16

I have no problem using this idea.... in fact I made pretty much the same thing for my plastic horses from Sears. They, rather enthusiastically say the can hold 500 lbs each, but unless in rebuilding a Panzer tank as a hobby, I feel these will hold all the weight I have for them.

The OP's design should do well enough as they are I feel.

tazmo8448 (author)2017-02-16

now that is one good idea

GTO3x2 (author)tazmo84482017-02-16

Yes. Very useful.

DidijustDidthat (author)2017-02-16

To be fair this is a clone of the Ikea product, I've done the same thing - It's a good peice of furniture to make with scraps. Usefull Instructable though!

seamster (author)2017-02-14

This is a great looking sawhorse design. Great instructable, too!

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Bio: I have a lot of fun making and designing wood toys. Please visit my blog for all the fun toys I have made. I do ... More »
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