Introduction: Perfect Sawhorses: Adjustable and Knock-down Design

Picture of Perfect Sawhorses: Adjustable and Knock-down Design

* Adjustable
* Strong/Sturdy
* Don't require a lot of space to store (ie. knock-down)
* Economical (approximately $15 per sawhorse)
* You would enjoy, or at least have some ability in, assembling pieces of wood

If you have some or all of the above criteria for a set of sawhorses then these will be perfect for you.


* The design was inspired by this plan:

* The finished weight of the saw horse is about 20 pounds.

Step 1: Tools Required

Picture of Tools Required

* Drill
* Drill bits (1/2", 1/4", and smaller)
* Wrenches or Socket set
* Skill saw and/or Miter saw
* Pencil
* Level
* Various clamps

* Sandpaper (80 or 120 grit)
* Protractor
* Vise

Step 2: Materials Required

Picture of Materials Required

This list is for two saw horses (measurements in inches):

Qty  Description
4      2x4 8 foot (96") stud
3      1x4 8 foot (96") furring strip/stud
1      2x2 8 foot (96") furring strip/stud

Qty  Description
8      4 1/2 x 1/4       carriage bolts
8      3 1/2 x 1/4       carriage bolts
16   1/4 x 1 1/4        fender washers
16   1/4                     nuts
4      3/64 x 1 9/16   safety pins
1      1/2                    wooden dowel
-      1 1/4                 wood screws
-      2                        wood screws
-      2 1/2                 wood screws

Wood glue is optional for some of the joints

Step 3: Cut List

Picture of Cut List

Again, measurements are in inches


Qty    Measurement    Description
2        30                         Top
4        14 1/2                  Top Supports
4        20                         Leg Sides
8        21                         Legs


Qty    Measurement    Description
4        9                           Leg Supports
4        30                         Top cross pieces
2        27                         Bottom cross piece


Qty    Measurement    Description
2        23                         Bottom piece of the Top Assembly

[Angled Cuts]

The Legs and Leg Supports will require angled cuts.  I decided with 30 and 60 degree cuts, but you could modify to use only 45 degree cuts to keep it as simple as possible.

The Legs have a 30 degree angle where it will rest on the floor and a 60 degree angle where it will rest against the 'Leg Side' (see picture).  The 60 degree cut can be done by hand (would take awhile though), with a fancy miter saw that goes to 60 degrees, with a skill or circular saw, or by clamping a jig to a miter saw set to 30 degrees and the board perpendicular to the miter saw fence.

The Leg Supports (1x4) are easier with two 30 degree cuts.

Step 4: Assembly (1 of 3): Legs

Picture of Assembly (1 of 3): Legs

See pictures for instruction ...

Step 5: Assembly (2 of 3): Horizontal Supports

Picture of Assembly (2 of 3): Horizontal Supports

Once you get two leg assemblies together you can join them with the Top Cross Pieces.  I used clamps to keep everything in place as I drilled holes.

These two Top Cross Pieces aren't enough to keep the entire sawhorse square if someone/thing were to lean on it from the side, so I added a Bottom Cross Piece which I attached with 1 1/4 inch wood screws.

Step 6: Assembly (3 of 3): Adjustable Top

Picture of Assembly (3 of 3): Adjustable Top

The Top Assembly:

First, attach the bottom with the supports with 2 1/2 inch wood screws (recommended to pre-drill the holes).  I put 2 screws in each side.  See the picture for how I used clamps to keep it all in place.

Next, slide those pieces into place and clamp the Top of the 'Top Assembly' to the rest of the saw horse while also clamping the Top Supports so they don't move while drilling holes through the Top.

(See the pictures for more detail)


peterkelly33 made it! (author)2017-06-15

Good job on the Sawhorse. I took inspiration from your design and made my own. I added guide rails for the moving part to as an overkill to stabalise it. I also changed the leg design slightly. I used open mortise and tenon joints. It weighs in at 10.5kg. I still have to drill holes for the retaining bolts but its nearly there. I have to make a second one and I was thinking that I might use them for a height adjustable table.

ChrisS43 (author)peterkelly332017-08-15

Hi peterkelly33. I really like your idea of having the guide rails. I'm also interested in your sketchup design. Would you be willing to share that on the sketchup3d warehouse?

peterkelly33 (author)ChrisS432017-08-16

I've added the sketchup model to the 3d Warehouse. Just search for "adjustable sawhorse" and my one will be there. Look for the one by Peter K.


ChrisS43 (author)peterkelly332017-08-18

That's great! Thanks!

villager (author)2017-01-31

Hi, great ible, but can't seem to be able to download it. I get an unknown error message. Webmaster please have a look at the download script. Thx

hsanford made it! (author)2015-07-01

Took me a little bit, but I did it! My second woodworking project complete! First one was a work bench. :) I'm getting there! Thanks loftyduck, your instructable was pretty easy for me to follow, only had to ask my husband and my dad a couple of little questions (mostly because they seem to insist on helping me whenever I work with wood).

jotuna (author)2015-06-22

Nice! Downloaded and on the way to getting materials. It will become clear, but what is the minimum and maximum height of the horse?

loftyduck (author)jotuna2015-06-22

The height of mine ranges from 32.5 inches to 45 inches. If you add a sacrificial top piece the height will increase accordingly.

jotuna (author)loftyduck2015-06-24

Thanks loftyduck, another question: the pins for the moveable assembly appear to rest on 1 x 4 crosspieces though everything else except the leg gussets is of 2 x 4 material. So does that mean all the weight of the load rests on the lighest pieces? Is there something i'm missing? Is this a misplaced concern?

loftyduck (author)jotuna2015-06-24

You understand the construction correctly but since the 1x4 is vertical the long (4") side carries the weight. So overall the 1x4 doesn't seem to be the weak link. If you need to support more weight I'd actually recommend improving the leg gusset connection first.

Kernel770 (author)2013-04-06

perfect sawhorses indeed! My only thought on improving though (but they are still perfect!) is to replace the pins for height adjustment with bolts or some sort of metal rod? And for this, maybe aluminum L-profiles covering and reinforcing the edges where the pins will sit on during use? (for heavy objects)
I was searching for some sort of desk-construction alternatives, and I think these sawhorses would make a really nice and flexible, though sturdy desk combined with a table plate!

loftyduck (author)Kernel7702015-06-22

Definitely a good idea. The pine dowel i originally used bent so it's since been replaced with oak dowel. Adding metal bits would be good as well or using a harder wood (oak, hickory, etc.) for areas that take extra stress would make it more durable, no question.

MelPhleg (author)2013-07-10

one problem with this instructable:
it can't be downloaded. i've tried several times.
the pdf page says to open with a different viewer.
downloading it with right-click save-link-as works, but the properties give it as 0bytes.
trying to open it with a on-puter pdf viewer says the file is plain text.
opening it in a word processor program gives a totally blank page.

what happened to the download-able file?


lyvwyr70 (author)MelPhleg2014-04-09

copy and paste to word

paulbsa (author)2012-03-29

Good design, but it looks like this would be extremely heavy. Great for fixed use in a woodshop, but I would hate to have to continually carry these around to job sites. I wonder if some of the 2X lumber could be replaced with 1X. I agree about using bolts and nuts in place of the wood dowels and pins. You could also use something like a hitch pin from a trailer that would be secure but easily removable.

skirmishmonkey (author)paulbsa2012-06-21

You are right (see my set below). These are very heavy - although I prefer the word robust. Not really suitable for moving around too much.

I am thinking about making a second set with lighter (thinner) lumber.

Saying that though, these are great for heavier duty tasks and to use around the workshop. I have even used them as a work platform with planks resting on them. (Probably not recommended for environments where the HSE officers breathe down your necks). One extended easily takes my weight (80kg) - again probably shouldn't recommend trying it at home.

The adjustable height is brilliant. I use the wooden dowels and haven't had any issues with them. If you drill the holes to the size of the dowels for a tight fit and make the dowels stick out a few inches either side then you shouldn't have any issues with them coming out mid task.

pbates123 (author)2012-02-05

Wow Great design Lofty Duck!! I see this is has been here for awhile although I just saw it. I want to make a couple for myself and maybe even a couple for a gift!

I had a couple of thoughts. Not having built a set yet it seems it maybe a bit wobbly once it is extended past the lower brace. If you were to route a dado on the inside of the legs say ~1/2in. wide and deep facing toward the slide on both sides, and on the slide near the bottom maybe an inch up drill a 1/2in. hole and insert a short piece of dowel. It would ride in the dado and help stabilize top assembly.

Also adding a couple of heavy duty hinges would allow the legs to fold up for more compact storage - might have to do a little engineering to make sure that add-on is strong enough - just a thought!

Great design I like it!!

skirmishmonkey (author)2012-01-31

When making the flat pack picnic bench - see @gareth0123

I realised what I have known for a while - I needed some saw horses. Looking at the local tool shops (I live in Malta and everything is quite expensive) I realised it would be cheaper to buy the lumber and make some myself.

This design fit all my needs - adjustable height, sturdy and above all, because space is at a premium, they collapse down so don't take up too much space.

They took less than a day to make. I followed the 'ible to the letter - including the 60 / 30 degree cuts on the legs - although they came out ok, I did mess up a few feet of 4 x 2 on the 60degree angles with the mitre saw. - ended up cutting 10 legs and choosing the best 8. Next time I would go with the 45degree cuts.

Other than that, a great design - already put to good use. Here is some pics of my horses. Thanks loftyduck for the design and a clear, easy to follow 'ible.

loftyduck (author)skirmishmonkey2012-01-31

Looks great! Nice work and I agree that 45 degree cuts would simplify the build quite a bit. Enjoy!

bobbybrus (author)2012-01-12

This is by far the best saw horse design I have seen. First it uses standard dimensional lumber, which is a plus. The miter cuts are not that complex. It seems like it would be plenty stable from side to side motion. Finally, the adjustable work surface makes it so versatile, that it can be used to support additional work surfaces at a variety of heights. This would be especially useful when using various woodworking machines, table saw, miter saw, shaper, etc. I would suggest making a adjustable insert with a dowel ended PVC pipe centered with an axle for a roller end feed when ripping long boards on a table saw. One other note, it is good to use a dowel to adjust the height of the saw horse top, but would it not be more stable to actually put the pin through a hole or holes in the top rail. Maybe this is wrong, but it just seemed like it might be better to do so. Overall, it is an exceptional design, which I plan to use. Well done and thank you.

rjlewis74 (author)2012-01-05

These are very cool. Being new to carpentry I've decided as these for my first project. Thumbs up

Lavon93 (author)2011-12-06

Very nice. I'm new to woodworking...on a "grander"

I would like to make a pair of these for my Father-in-law...Who has every tool know to modern man!!! I think he would appreciate these.

Uptonb (author)2011-11-07

Well, I just made a pair of these today, and I have to say these are absolutely great. Very easy to follow 'ible.

Thank you very much for improving on the handyman version and publishing this project.  They will help me immensely on my projects.  :)

Very nice project with excellent instruxtable, thank you

myles136 (author)2011-10-14

Love this idea. I have always needed a 2nd rest for large sheets. I too am opting for a single leg the a Tee base for future casters. I will use 1/2" plywood in place of 1x4's as a gusset on the inverted Tee base. I am also replacing all the horizontal 1x4's with 3-1/2" rips of 3/4" plywood for strength. As to the fender washers, I am confused. A 1-1/4" washer on one side and only the head of a carriage bolt on the other? I will use only four hex bolts at the top with standard washers as the other four bolts are not necessary with a Tee base leg. Your 1/2" wood dowels are sufficient for a normal weight load, in my opinion. Very nice design!

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-10-11

I don't understand something...

Why would you use carriage bolts instead of hex head bolts?? Hex head bolts you can tighten down to the maximum, carriage bolts you can not.....

Not saying you're wrong for using them, I just don't understand why...

loftyduck (author)SIRJAMES092011-10-12

Personal preference I suppose. You're correct that you could get things tighter with hex head bolts, but I liked the look and low profile of carriage bolts. I could always switch to hex head down the road if I find the connections are getting loose.

SIRJAMES09 (author)loftyduck2011-10-13

I'm not saying you're wrong & I'm right, I just did not understand is all...

It goes against everything I believe in to tell someone what to do unless their health is in jeopardy.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-10-11

yes, hex head bolts & fender washers would definitely be better than dowel rods...safer too I think. :0)

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-10-11

matching & labeling is a good idea.

My father was a cabinet builder for over 20 yrs & he always did that. :)

tbird2340 (author)2011-10-09

Question.. Why remove the fence and add that jig instead of just using the fence of the saw?

This is the only part I don't understand. Great horses!!

shallnot (author)tbird23402011-10-09

My guess is the creator of this "instructable" was projecting the excess length beyond where the fence would be.

As long as your boards are cut exactly to length beforehand there is no need to remove the fence when using the fixture to angle them.

Even if they aren't exactly to length as long as you do the cut using the fixture first cutting the other end's angle will be done parallel to the fence so any excess will project beyond the blade without impediment.

loftyduck (author)shallnot2011-10-10

Precisely. I didn't mention in my steps that I made the mistake of not cutting every length first before cutting the angles (in an effort to minimize waste). However, I was left with several boards with two 30 degree angles on either end and a 60 degree angle in the middle (for the legs) which is why I had to remove the fence.

tbird2340 (author)loftyduck2011-10-10

I'm still confused, unfortunately.. Why can't you just take your miter saw to 60* and make the cut? Why do you need the board there?


loftyduck (author)tbird23402011-10-10

The miter saw I used was pretty old and only goes to 45 degrees. I know some newer (and more expensive) saws go to 60. Easiest route would be to just use a skill saw and protractor.

Greenehouse (author)2011-10-10

Great Instructable, thanks for putting it together and sharing it. For some reason I wasn't able to download the plans though.

Ludwig Von Mech (author)2011-10-09

This is very very nice. A brilliant idea!

TexSon (author)2011-10-09

They look great, but if I could offer a recommendation, I would use a bolt instead of the wood dowels to hold the height adjustments. Some a bit heavy or if a something heavy was dropped on one it might break the dowel.

David Catriel (author)2011-10-09

Very nice. I think I'll make myself a pair :)

Tropics (author)2011-10-09

Looks like a terrific idea,but...some of the steps appear to be missing and I am unable to download the PDF. Thanks.

tjk1939 (author)2011-10-09

Nice job...On my to do list.

bobby sissom (author)2011-10-07

beautifull,i will so make my twin brother jealous,he has had a home made set of sawhorses that have made me the same for years,muuwaahaha

dimtick (author)2011-10-06

I really like these. think i'll be building some of these. mine are ok but i've been wanting new ones for a while. I don't have a lot of space so I need something that can easily be stored with minimum space and yet give maximum flexibility. these are perfect.

I think it may be helpful to add a 1x on top of the frame to be sacrificial when making cuts. you can periodically replace the 1x without cutting up the main frame.

I think when I drill the holes I'm going to go around and measure important table, chop saw, router table, etc. and then lay out the holes so that I can set the height to align with the tools

I do a lot of furniture pieces. I think that in addition to the triangle leg assembly, that i'll make some low legs using a horizontale 2x4 with casters for working with large pieces.

nice job.

loftyduck (author)dimtick2011-10-06

I'm glad you like them. I also had the thought to attach another 1x board on the very top to take any cuts and then replace easily, but haven't had the need yet.

I measured the height of the miter saw ontop of my workbench to find the first set of holes and then just spaced evenly from there. So I agree finding key heights is a great idea.

I'd enjoy seeing your rendition when they're complete, enjoy!

mikeasaurus (author)2011-10-06

Nice build, I could use a few of these for some of my projects.
Any thoughts to using steel bolts instead of the wooden dowels for the height adjustment? It seems like that would be the weakest part when the sawhorse is carrying a load.

loftyduck (author)mikeasaurus2011-10-06

Since the dowels are short enough I think they'll hold up to a lot of weight, but I like your idea even better. It would probably be easier than having to cut a dowel to size and drill holes. Then put a wingnut on those bolts to keep them in place. I think the overall cost would be similar between the two options as well.

Also, I've realized if you put the dowel or bolt through the Top Supports (instead of resting on top of them) you can pick up the sawhorse by the Top without the assembly possibly coming out.

dimtick (author)loftyduck2011-10-06

if your worried about the top frame coming out when you lift it, add a 1x stop board to the bottom of the frame. if you look at the inspiration design the pull out frame has a 1x across the bottom which prevents it from being pulled all the way out. may also add a little stability when the frame is at full height.

zazenergy (author)2011-10-06

Very nice documentation and work!

About This Instructable




Bio: the humble handyman
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