Everyone needs sawhorses at some point but the issue later becomes where to store them. I've crafted a previous set of sawhorses that were built after a show on the New Yankee Workshop with Norm Abram. They are a nice set but they always took up a lot of space. So I set out on a research project for a different idea by reviewing many pictures of sawhorses. One that would collapse for easy storage and transporting, be sturdy plus lightweight that could be carried by just about anyone in just about any vehicle. This sawhorse comes in around 10 pounds and when folded down it has dimensions of 5" x 6" x 36". I also added some versatility and flexibility by adding some extra holes to accommodate add-on features. One add-on feature is the variable vertical risers/elevators that can accommodate many different uses. The vertical risers instructions can be found in step 9.
You can assemble a completed sawhorse from its collapsed position to its expanded open stance in less than a 1 minute. I do this in the video that you can watch in step 7.
Step 1: Materials That You Will Need to Make 2 Sawhorses
1 - 2" x 4" X 8' pine board
4 - 1" x 4" x 6' pine boards
1 - 1" x 6" x 8' pine board
1 - 1/8" x 3/4" x 48" aluminum stock
8 - # 8 pan head screws 1 1/2" long
1 - 3/8" x 36" wood dowel
4 - 1/4" - 20 x 4" carriage bolts
4 - 1/4" -20 knurled nuts or wingnuts
22- 1 5/8" drywall screws
Step 2: Building the Main Beam.
2. Cut 2 boards to 3 feet in length from the planed 2" x 6".
3. Rip these 2 boards to a width of 5". (Top Main beam board)
4. Cut part of the 2" x 4" to a 36" length. Plane the 2" x 4" to a thickness of 1". Then rip it to a 3 3/8" width.
5. Cut 4 boards to a length of 7 3/8"" from the 1" x 3 3/8" board. (Leg support beam boards)
6. Cut the rabbet on the side the Leg support board by making a cut 1/4" on the side of the board to a depth of 1/4 ". Then tilt your blade to 15 degrees to match the depth and width of your previous cut as seen in the picture and remove this remaining section of the board.
6. Cut a dado down the center to the 3/4" width by 3/8" depth to section out the 2 Top main and 4 leg support beam boards. On the leg support boards make sure you dado the same side of the board that you removed per step number 5. Use the pictures as your reference.
7. Now measure and place a pencil mark on the leg support boards at 5" on each side. At the end measure in 1" and place a pencil from each side. Remove these corner triangles, sand and round the corners. See the picture as a reference.
8. Rip the 1" x 6" to a width of 4 3/8". (Vertical beam board)
9. Cut 2 boards to a 3 foot length from the vertical beam board.
10. Drill 5 pilot holes for the drywall screws into the Top Main beam board on center. The first hole is in the middle of the board at 18". Followed by 2 holes 8" out from the center and then 2 more holes at 16". Then take a 3/8" bit and drill to 1/4" depth to accept the 3/8" dowel begs.
11. Drill 3 pilot holes for the drywall screws into the Leg support beam board on center. Drill 1 hole at each end 1" in. Drill another hole at 5" as can be seen in the picture. Then drill a 3/8" hole to 1/4" depth to accept the 3/8" dowel begs.
12. Apply glue to the Top Main beam boards dado and screw it to the Vertical beam board.
13. Apply glue to the Leg support beam boards dado and screw it to the ends of the Vertical beam board.
14. Cut 22 - 1/2" sections from the 3/8" dowel then glue and place them into their respective holes of the main beam and leg support board. Sand them down smooth as seen in the picture.
Step 3: Cutting the Legs
1. The legs are going to be 30" in length. You are going to have to make compound cuts so the leg will flare and spread away from the main beam. If it is easier for you to cut the compound angles you can first cut the 1" x 4" x 6" boards down to 3' foot lengths.
2. You will need to tilt your blade to 15 degrees and then set your miter to 15 degrees as well and make cuts on 4 of the boards. Then set your miter to 15 degrees the opposite way and make cuts on the other 4 boards.
3. Now measure your boards to 30" in length and make a parallel cut on the opposite end with the blade again set at 15 degrees and the miter set at the proper corresponding 15 degrees.
4. With your 3/4" dado blades in your saw now cut a dado 5" from the top of each board to a depth of 1/4". Five inches from the top should line up with the bottom of the leg support. The cut is again parallel to the top of the board so it will fit into the rabbet for the leg support board. Observe the cut and fit in the pictures.
5. Now dado out the section that corresponds with the angle cut on the leg support to a depth of 1/16". Observe the cut and fit in the pictures.
6. At this point I marked each leg to its respective location on the sawhorse by label them 1 through 8. I also labeled the corresponding location on the leg support board.
7. You will need to round over the inside top corner of each leg. To do this I found a 1/2 pint can to be the right diameter to use as a template. If you don't have a 1/2 pint can the diameter is 3". Make sure it is the inside portion as noted by the dado cut and then to mark and cut the boards. Observe the picture of the can and the dado cut for a reference. After you've made this cut set your belt sander to 15 degrees and sand off the remaining wood so it lines up nicely with the top 15 degree cut. Start sanding with the cut angle first so you know you've matched the angle correctly.
8. Test fitting all the legs and additional sanding may be required in order to get the right fit.
9. Now you need to make a taper on the inside of the leg so the aluminum support brace will tuck away nicely when storing the sawhorse. To do this measure and mark 3/8" on the bottom of the inside part of each leg. Now measure 24" up the leg and draw a line from this mark to your 3/8" mark. See the picture with the red * as a reference. Remove this portion of the leg and sand.
Step 4: Drilling the Legs and the Main Beam.
1. Drill the main beam first. Mark a point that is in the center of the width of the beam between the leg support and top main beam board. And then measure in from the end to 2 7/8". Now using a 5/16" bit drill a hole. Note I clamped the main beam to my drill press in order to keep the position.
2. Now find the center of the corresponding leg and position it into place. Drill this hole.
3. Repeat this steps for the remaining holes in the main beam and legs.
Note: drilling a hole 5/16" rather than the 1/4" width of the carriage bolt is needed in order to collapse the legs.
Step 5: Making the Aluminum Support Brace.
1. Cut the aluminum stock in 4 piece that are 11 3/4" long.
2. Round off the end by using a dime to mark the radius. Then sand, grind, or file the stock to make the radius.
3. Drill a hole on each end centered on the width at 3/8" in with a 5/32" bit to the 4 pieces of stock.
4. On 1 end of the 4 pieces of stock drill a hole centered on the width with a 21/64" bit to allow the head of the #8 screw to clear the stock. The hole is 3/4" from the end.
5. You can drill additional holes between these holes with a 5/32" bit as this portion of the stock needs to be removed.
6. You can file or use a dremel to remove the aluminum between the holes. You are constructing a keyhole as can been seen in the picture.
Step 6: Attaching the Aluminum Brace to the Legs.
1. Measure up from the bottom of the tapered portion of the leg and place a mark at 10" centered on the leg.
2. Drill a pilot hole for the #8 screws.
3. Place a screw through the hole in the aluminum stock and attach to the leg.
4. On the opposite leg screw a #8 screw at the 10" mark, centered and to a depth the just clears the thickness of the stock.
5. Repeat this step for the other legs.
6. I put the key holes on the same side of my sawhorses so they are uniform.
Step 7: Assemble the Sawhorse.
1. Push a carriage bolt through the leg into the beam and into the other leg.
2. Attach the knurled nut and tighten.
3. Compress the legs slightly to allow the key hole in the aluminum stock to meet the head of the #8 screw. Then release.
4. Repeat for the other legs.
5. Turn the sawhorse upright and check the knurled nuts for tightness again.
6. Go to work.
Step 8: Optional Tweaks.... Measurements
I drilled 2 - 1 1/2" holes centered on each beam 11" in from the end. This is to allow adding pipe clamps to expand the use and stability of the sawhorses.
I drilled 3 - 1/4" holes in the beam. 1 at the center of the beam and 2 outward at 9 1/2". These holes are to support the added blocks I built for clamping and the removable - variable raising, horizontal supports.
I drilled a hole in each of the legs that is centered and 10" from the bottom. These holes will be used for the add-on blocks to support, cut, or work on projects in a vertical position. ie doors or plywood.
The add-on blocks are 2" deep, 1 1/2" wide and 4" long. They are used for clamping or holding the horizontal support. They are held into place with 1/4 -20 4" carriage bolt and knob.
Sand and finish the sawhorses.
I built these sawhorses as a research project to see if it could be done. I had no material intent for a particular purpose when I started this task. Regarding their functionality, this is for discussion purposes only as they have not been tested regarding any need.
Step 9: Building the Optional Variable, Vertical Risers/elevators
I made these optional variable, vertical risers/elevators because there are times when you want some added height for various projects or support. You could use them to support long boards when ripping them on a table saw, raising a router table, a higher makeshift bench or table and outfeed supports for a miter saw. They rise from 5 5/8" to a maximum height of 22 1/2" above the top of the sawhorse.
Materials: 2' x 2' x 3/4" plywood board.
1. Cut 7 strips 3" wide.
2. Take 1 of the 3" strips and cut 4 boards to a length of 4 1/2".
3. Now with 4 of the 3" X 24" strips cut a centered 3/4" dado at 1 end to a depth of 1".
4. With the 4, 3" x 4 1/2" boards and cut a centered 3/4" dado at both ends to a depth of 1".
5. The 2 remaining 3" x 24" strips need 2 dados on 1 side. Cut this dado centered at 2 1/2" in from the ends to a depth of 1".
6. Cutting the through slot for the 4 vertical pieces. I used a router equipped with a 1/4" bit that was centered on the boards. and I stopped short at the bottom of the board at 1 7/8" and at the top (end of the board that has the dado) at 4 7/8".
7. I marked each corner of all the boards with a quarter and then sanded off these corners with a belt sander.
8. With a 1/4" round over bit I routed all the edges.
9. Drill 2, 1/4" holes centered on the horizontal boards 5" from the end.
10. Drill the add-on blocks with a 5/8" to a depth of 3/4"
As you can see in the pictures all of the pieces when not in use are held together in a compact unit for easy storage and transportation.