Sawhorses are one of those things that I tried to do without for the longest time, but they are just too handy when it comes to breaking down sheet goods and longer boards. So instead of buying a set of sawhorse brackets or some plastic sawhorses, I decided to make a pair of my own with a few 2x4s and some strap hinges.
These are based on a design by Steve Ramsey, but with a few changes. I wasn't a big fan of the shelf as it prevents items from being stored between the legs of the sawhorses when folded. I also wanted to strengthen the frame a bit by using a lap joint and make it easier to remove the top if it ever needed to be replaced.
Step 1: Preparing the Lumber
The first step was to cut the parts to length using my miter saw with a stop setup to get consistent sizes. I then decided to clean up the parts for the legs and top rails a bit on the jointer and planer.
Step 2: Ripping the Top Rails and Cross Supports
Once that was done, I ripped the parts for the top rails and cross supports to width at the table saw. The wider piece is the rail, and the remainder will be used to make the cross supports.
Step 3: Starting the Lap Joint
I decided to go with a lap joint to join the legs and top rail. Pocket screws would certainly be quicker here, but I thought this might be a little stronger, and it was a good excuse to get some more practice. I simply lined up the rail on the leg and marked where the two parts met. Then I cut the first part of the joint on the leg at the table saw with my dado blade. Here I used a stop block on my fence and adjusted it a little at a time to sneak up on exact length. (Note that instead of a true half-lap joint I left the leg a bit thicker and only removed about 1/3rd of the material from it.)
Step 4: Finishing the Lap Joint
To finish the lap joint I used one of the cut legs to mark the depth on the top rails and then cut it at the table saw. And here again I used a stop block on the fence to get just the right length.
Step 5: Cutting the Bevels
Once all of the lap joints were finished, I then cut a 19° bevel in the top rail and on the top and bottom of all the legs. (Note that in the leg photo I wanted to remove a bad spot at the top of the leg which is why it looks like I'm cutting off more than I should.)
Step 6: Assembling the Frames
With the cutting complete, it was time to assemble the lap joints. After applying some glue, I just used a framing square to align the rail and leg and then countersunk two screws to hold it together while it dried.
Step 7: Attaching the Hinges
After the glue dried, it was time to attach a pair of 4" strap hinges to the legs. To do this, I ran a center line down the top few inches of the adjoining legs and marked where the holes should go on both legs. Then I just attached the hinges with 1-1/4" decking screws.
Step 8: Attaching the Top
Next I centered the top on the frame and attached it to one rail with three screws from underneath. This makes it very easy to swap out a new top if one gets damaged.
Step 9: Making the Cross Supports
The final step was to make the cross supports. For these I simply predrilled two holes near both ends and then used my band saw to cut an open latch on one side. I attached the cross supports to the legs using cabinet screws (any screw with a flat head will do). Then I tightened it so that it would stay in place when rotated up while still being able to swing down to lock when in use.
Step 10: Finishing Up
Well, that finishes up this pair folding sawhorses. The total cost was just under $20 for the pair and it turned out to be a fun little project. After using them for almost a year they still work great. Having the open center, which allows them to be placed close together, turned out to be quite useful when working on smaller parts.
One minor change that I just made (in the 2nd photo) was to replace the 2" x 4" top with a 2" x 6" top. This extra width makes it possible to clamp work pieces anywhere along the top of the sawhorse which comes in handy. It also makes it a lot more comfortable to sit on!
Be sure to check out our other Instructables and our website (AroundHomeDIY.com) as well. And if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
Step 11: Parts and Materials
- 4 - 2" x 4" x 8' Boards (Frames)
- 1 - 2" x 4" x 8' or 2"x 6" x 8' Board (Tops)
- 4 - 4" Strap Hinge
- 1-1/4" and 3" Decking Screws
- 2" Cabinet / Washer Head Screws