Introduction: The Ultimate, Heavy Duty, Stackable, Bullet Proof, Extreme Saw Horses!

Picture of The Ultimate, Heavy Duty, Stackable, Bullet Proof, Extreme Saw Horses!

OK maybe not quite bullet proof, but everything else is accurate. I came up with this design about 16 or 18 years ago. I'm sure I'm not the first one to build them like this but here is my version, and you're all welcome to it!

The second picture (holding up the hover board) is the oldest set (roughtly 17 years ).

The third picture shows a 5 or 6 year old set holding up some I-beams.

I have to paint both sides of 25 sheets of plywood so I needed 6 sets (12 horses) to make the job flow more easily.

Step 1: Thoughts to Ponder Before You Begin

Picture of Thoughts to Ponder Before You Begin

Sizes - The older sets pictured in the intro are 24" tall. The sets I just made are 30" tall. The height is dependent on your purposes. For simply holding stuff off of the ground, the lower set is better (and more economical). If you will be actually working with them, taller is better.

Stack-ability - Each saw horse is 1/2" longer than the one beneath it. Hence the numbers! If the braces were about 2” wider, the horses would stack against the braces rather than the legs. The first set I built was like that and it was pretty cool. Make adjustments as you see fit.

Materials - The best lumber to use would be KD (kiln dried). Generally your other choice is GDF (Green Doug Fir) or equivalent. KD lumber will not warp (very much) while GDF will, as it dries, turn into interesting potato chip (or pretzel or your other favorite curvy snack food) shapes. Unfortunately the longest KD 2x6 I could find was 8’ which would not have been efficient for this job.

Fasteners - I used drywall screws. If you will be using these saw horses for their name sake's purpose (holding up lumber while you saw it) please be advised that drywall screws are hardened steel and carbide tipped blades do not like drywall screws. If you think there is a possibility of hitting a screw with a blade, using general purpose wood screws is a better choice.

Step 2: Bill of Materials

Picture of Bill of Materials

I built 6 sets (12 horses). Most people will only need two or four horses. The length is nominally 3' (36"). Please note that I am giving the minimum lengths needed. I realize that you probably cannot buy a 6' long 2x6. The only length I could find in KD was 8'

Lumber 2x6's (Preferably KD)
For 24" tall:
One set (2 horses) - two 8' and one 6'
Two sets (4 horses) - four 8' and one 12'

For 30" tall:
One set - two 10' and one 6'
Two sets - four 10' and two 12'

You can of course use any multiples of the above you need.

Braces (horizontal strip across the bottom of the legs) - scrap plywood 3/4 inch thick, 5 inches wide by approximately 20 inches long. Yup! you get to finally use those long narrow strips you've been saving for so long!

3 inch drywall screws - 12 per horse
1-5/8 inch (or anything close) drywall screws - 12 per horse

Titebond II or Gorilla glue (polyurethane glue) or any weather resistance adhesive.

Step 3: Tools

Picture of Tools

I assume that if you are building these horses and using the tools listed that you will follow the appropriate safety procedures.

Yes I am a shop teacher. Why do you ask?

Fully functional brain.
Table saw with miter gauge.
- a circular saw with a shoe that angles would work but it will make it a tad tougher to do.
Radial arm saw or Compound miter saw
Electric drill
Phillips screw driver tip(s) #2
Screw pilots
Tape measure
Wood clamps (I prefer hand screw clamps)

Step 4: Cutting the Legs

Picture of Cutting the Legs

Sizes given are nominal and for a 30" high x 36" long horse. I purchased twelve 10' 2x6's for the legs. This gives me four 30" legs from each board for a total of 48 legs.

Set up a stop on your radial arm saw fence at 29-3/4" by clamping on a hand screw clamp (or c-clamping a piece of scrap wood) Set it so it is up off the table to provide for chip clearance. This way saw dust dosen't collect in the corner and make your boards shorter and shorter as you go.

Trim the end off of each board before cutting it to length. This insures you have square ends. Never rely on the lumber yard to give you a precice length or a square end.

Step 5: Cutting the Tops

Picture of Cutting the Tops

In order to make the horses stackable, each top is 1/2 inch longer than the preceding one. This is actually much easier than it sounds.

In theory, the tops could all be the same length and the horses should still stack. In practice they will vary a bit and you will still need to number the horses to stack them. Plus they will be very snug and difficult to get apart. Yes, the first set I made were all the same length.

Another option was to splay the legs out 5 degrees or so, but that would have added another degree of complexity so I chose the K.I.S.S. option in this case.

You will need three small pieces of half inch shim stock for spacers. they should be around 1-1/2 inches x 2-1/2 inches (or anything close.) I didn't have half inch plywood, so I used six pieces of quater inch ply. The quarter inch plywood also came in handy later.

You are going to set your fence stop at 36-1/2 inches and make the first cut. Then add one half inch of shim against the stop and make your second cut. Add another one half inch of shim for the third, and the last half inch of shim for the fourth top cut. Be sure no saw dust collects between the shims for the most accurate cuts.

Step 6: Ripping the Angle Into the Bottom Face of the Top.

Picture of Ripping the Angle Into the Bottom Face of the Top.

Ripping is the term used when cutting parallel to the grain.

I considered not making the angle cut the full length of the top, but again K.I.S.S..

The advantages to not making the angle cut the full length are: a marginal addition to strength and it would aid in clamping work to the horse when in service.

The advantages to doing it this way are: it is much faster and does not involve pulling work off of the saw mid-cut or plunging down onto the blade and running it to a stop.

Tip your saw blade 15 degrees.

Set the height so the length of blade exposed is 1-1/2" (the thickness of the legs.)

Set the fence so the left edge of the blade is 1-1/2" from the fence. It should just barely cut through the left side of the 2x6 when it is stood on edge and ripped. If it does not completely sever the piece off, that is OK, it is easy to snap off when the cut is complete.

Step 7: Cutting the Bottom of the Leg (while You're at It)

Picture of Cutting the Bottom of the Leg (while You're at It)

As long as you have the table saw set at 15 degrees, cut the angle onto the bottom of the legs! The top will be left square.

Secret anti-kickback trick. A clearance block is a piece of scrap wood used, when using the miter gauge with the fence as a stop. This insures that you do not have a part trapped between the blade and the fence (kick-back time!) when you are pulling the part back toward you or if the part tips side-ways while being cut. (This usually happens just after the part is severed while it is still between the blade and the fence.)

You will set up the length of the leg, with the clearance block between the fence and the leg.. The leg is held in place and the clearance block is removed prior to making the cut.

Set up

Attach a nice long fence to your miter gauge and square it up to 90 degrees (perpendicular to the blade).

Set the height of the blade to around 1-3/4". It should just be above the top of the leg when the leg is laid flat.

Turn the saw on and cut through the fence on the miter gauge so you can use the slot to set up the length for the leg.

Using a clearance block set the fence so you will trim a small bit off the end.


Place the clearance block against the fence and a leg against the miter gauge.

Slide the leg against the miter gauge and up against the clearance block, trapping the block between the leg and the fence.

Without moving the leg, remove the clearance block and set it away from the path of the board.

Slowly, keeping your hands away from the path of the cut, pass the leg over the blade.

After the blade has passed through the wood, carefully slide the leg away from the blade and pull it and the miter gauge back toward you.

Step 8: Roughing Out the Braces

Picture of Roughing Out the Braces

Cut the braces from 3/4" plywood. I made them 5" wide by 20" long.

The width can be wider. If so, the horses when stacked will rest on the braces rather than on the legs. No problem either way.

The length will be trimed to fit later.

Cut two braces for each horse.

Step 9: Assembling Leg #1 to the Top

Picture of Assembling Leg #1 to the Top

There are definitely bunches of ways to do this. As I was the Lone Ranger for most of this project, I had to figure out a way to do it alone. Here ya go!


Left and right are always as seen from standing by the workbench and looking straight at the top of the saw horse.

The long point refers to the longest dimension of the angled bottom of the leg.

Set up

Install a screw pilot for a 3" drywall screw in one hand held electric drill, and a #2 Phillips bit in the other. The screw pilot need only extend about 2 inches or so, not the full length of the screw.

Plug both drills in and set them to the side.

Cut four pieces of 1/4" plywood about 2" x 6" to be used for shims.

Set a large hand screw clamp to one side.

Set one of the Free Bonus #2 wedges to one side (This will support the top while it is screwed to the first and third legs.)


Set the leg on two of the 1/4" plywood shims with the long point down! Position it so the top of the leg is accessible to the electric drill. Clamp it to the table across one corner.

Apply glue to the top (square end) of the leg.

Place the top on edge, with the left end about half way up the wedge.

Place the other end of the top on the leg so the lip is resting on the top face of the leg, and both the end of the top and the side of the leg, are aligned.

Holding the top against the leg so the angle is square and flush, drill a pilot hole about 3-1/4 inch from the end and about one half inch up from the work table.

While still holding the top against the leg, insert a screw into the pilot hole, and using the other drill, sink the screw. The top of the screw should be below flush. You can now let go of the top.

Drill two more pilot holes at approximately the top two corners of the leg and put them in at an angle! The screws will hold better if they are slightly cross grain rather than parallel to the grain like the first one. Please see the pictures for a better idea.

Be sure the top is pulled flush against the top of the leg.

Step 10: Assembling Leg #2 to the Top

Picture of Assembling Leg #2 to the Top

The second leg will be assembled to the same edge, on the opposite end of the top.

Remove the wedge from the left end of the top.

Angle the assembly so the left edge of the top will be accessible to the drill. See the picture for clarity.

Set the other two shims where you will be placing leg #2.

Apply glue to the top of leg #2.

Position leg #2 so it is flush against the top with the long point down.

Follow the same procedure for piloting and installing the three screws. Drill and install the middle screw before the two outer screws. Be sure they are at an angle.

Step 11: Assembling Leg #3 to the Top

Picture of Assembling Leg #3 to the Top

This was the tricky one!

Flip the assembly over and replace the wedge under the left edge of the top.

Using a brace (one from step 8), support the leg on the left side of the top. Once again, please see the picture for clarity.

Using the provious procedures, install leg #3. Don't forget to use the quarter inch shims under the leg.

Step 12: Assembling Leg #4 to the Top

Picture of Assembling Leg #4 to the Top

Ahhh, the final leg.

Remove the wedge from under the left side of the top.

Place Leg #4 in position on the shims, clamp, glue, pilot and screw it in!

Step 13: Trimming the Braces

Picture of Trimming the Braces

I'm sorry I cannot give you a hard number to which to trim the braces. As I mentioned earlier, the GDF warps all over the place, and I am only a mere human and have not assembled all of the legs perfectly. Hence the need for custom fitting of the braces.

My original idea was to install the braces and then use a router with a flush trim bit to cut them off. Unfortunately I did not have a sharp enough bit and had to modify my plans.

Here's the real deal...

Set a saw horse up on its legs on the work bench. Gently lift it straight up and tap the legs to insure it is sitting flat and level.

Take a scrap piece of 2x6 and lean it against the legs on the end of the horse. Draw a line on the legs at the top of the scrap 2x6. This will indicate the bottom of the brace.

Set the brace on the 2x6 and mark the legs at the top of the brace.

On the side of the brace touching the legs, mark the angle of the legs.

Square up your table saw blade to 90 degrees.

Pivot your miter gauge to 15 degrees. Make sure you have a long enough fence to support the length of the brace to the left side of your blade.

Depending on the direction you turn your miter gauge; you will have to transfer one of the lines from the front to the back of the brace. See pictures for clarity.

Using the miter gauge and table saw, trim both of the ends of the brace to 15 degrees.

Step 14: Attaching the Braces

Picture of Attaching the Braces

Yer almost done!

Install a shorter screw pilot in the hand held electric drill. Set it for the shorter screw. For this application, a 1-5/8 inch screw only needs to be piloted to about 1-1/4 inch deep.

Apply glue to the legs between the lines you marked in the last step. (You knew they were there for a reason!)

Using the scrap 2x6, position the brace against the legs and clamp in place. I only used one clamp.

Using the drill with the screw pilot, drill one hole in each side of the brace.

Using the drill with the Phillips bit, install the two screws.

Remove the clamp and pilot drill the remaining four holes.

Install the remaining four screws.

Repeat the process for the other side.

Step 15: Numbering the Horses

Picture of Numbering the Horses

As they will only stack one way, I find it usefull to number them for easy stackability.

I guess I got a bit carried away but I stenciled numbers on them.

A magic marker has worked fine for them in the past.


Gartholameau (author)2017-09-08

Nice job on the Sawhorses. I need to build two (wider) to hold my 2200 lb fiberglass camper over the winter. I was wondering what those 8 i-beams might weigh - roughly? Thanks. G

lowpro (author)2013-10-19

Those are the nicest saw horses I've ever seen. Not sure you were truly sticking to the K.I.S.S. philosophy (I've whipped up a very serviceable saw horse in 5 minutes or less) but these are actually a fine bit of woodworking and ingenuity. Might have to make a set.

TN777 (author)2012-12-28

Could you put a saddle on it (for a horse)? The reason I ask is that I am looking for a saddle horse that I can build.

retrotimelord (author)2011-07-28

i love the buggy in da backround

vincent7520 (author)2011-01-11

Sorry but I don't catch the mistake at all !!!…
Did you made too many tops (as I see only 12 Saw horses on the last photo… but this doesn't prove anything).

I want to know ;)

Mikey D (author)vincent75202011-01-11

You got it Vince - 16 tops & only 12 horses, there is a stack of 12 on the bench, two more next to the stack and 2 finished ones on the floor. Oops!

Thanks for looking!


vincent7520 (author)Mikey D2011-01-11

How funny … I would never have find it myself if you didn't point this discrepancy out !…

Welle, guess you have to make a few more saw horses !!… (okay, okay, only a joke)

but then I do admire your work and my next saw horse will be directly inspired from yours !
be sure of that !!…

Mikey D (author)vincent75202011-01-11

Thank you kind sir!


Norm Pro (author)2009-01-19

Laptop with built in printer ?? Neat !! :o)

force9000 (author)Norm Pro2009-03-27

thats an old type writer

Nick Shep (author)force90002010-04-30

No, that's a relatively new typewriter.

hintss (author)Nick Shep2010-11-29

but not the newest! the newest have spell check, automatic whiteout dispenser and such

pfred2 (author)2010-10-13

The horse on the right is my favorite design so far. Handy to work on, light but sturdy, stackable, and takes mostly small scraps to make. Oh, and it is tough to hit the screws it is put together with as well. The only downside is the scarf cut on the tops of the legs but nothing is perfect.

Karletto555 (author)2010-02-09

funny in this part of the world it is called "goat"

Broom (author)Karletto5552010-09-08

Where? That's a great name for them!

Karletto555 (author)Broom2010-09-08

just look the profile

Broom (author)Karletto5552010-09-08

I did, but missed your location. Got it now.

Mikey D (author)Karletto5552010-02-10

That makes sense, they are more goat size than horse size.  :-)

alaskanbychoice (author)2008-06-01

Nice instructable, but have you ever tried angling the legs outward toward the ends of the top of the saw horses so that they can all be built identical and still be able to be stacked ? Just a thought. They would stack kind of like cones then.

Mikey D (author)alaskanbychoice2008-06-01

Thanks Alaskan! Yes, in step 5 I address splaying the legs out by 5 degrees or so. It would have added another degree of complexity and I would have had to cut right and left legs, and keep track of them! ;) Thanks again.

Broom (author)Mikey D2010-09-08

I'm just not getting it. What's the big deal with making the legs 5-deg wider? The bevels will be at 17.5 instead of 15 deg; so what?

For that matter, I'm not getting why wider angle = stackable... or really, why 30-deg total angle of the legs = not easily stackable (without the incremental length changes).

Please explain?

alaskanbychoice (author)Mikey D2008-06-01

I agree yours is easier to do and less complex. I guess I missed the part in step 5, off to reread it. Thanks

Schmaus (author)2008-12-29

Table saws should never be used to crosscut, even if you have a 'trick'. It is a bad habit that will very easily lead to injury.

Broom (author)Schmaus2010-09-08

That's a very pretty world you live in. Here on Earth, some of us don't own 50 different single-use power tools. My table saw rips, crosscuts, edge trims, makes cove cuts, rabbets, dadoes, and occasionally grinds.


rtulloch (author)Schmaus2010-05-07

 Maybe your thinking of freehand cross-cutting which is not what they are doing. 

iMakeItHappen (author)2010-06-25

I really like this and will be making them this weekend, but i just wanted to know what is the purpose of the shims? thanks in advance for helping me out

Mikey D (author)iMakeItHappen2010-06-25

The shim is there to hold the leg parallel to the table top. The top piece of the saw horse in that position needs the leg to be lifted off of the table just a bit so the shim helps out. Take a look at the fourth, seventh and ninth pictures. Hope it helps! Mikey

rtulloch (author)2010-05-07

 If you are not supposed to crosscut with a table saw, why the heck do they make miters for it? If you follow the basic rules it is perfectly safe. They use a spacer block here which is perfect, then clamp against miter and it is no different than cutting it with any other power saw. Where did you ever hear that? The most dangerous bad habit to be formed with a table saw that will lead to injury is getting too comfortable with it which is easier to do than you think. 

Physty (author)2010-01-21

never is a  really long time... are you sure?

The_Beast (author)2008-12-11

I might have to build a set to make my temporary works shop more temporary :)

Devil_Dog (author)2008-09-07

Semper Fidelis, Mikey D!!! Excellent! Your design is more sturdy by attaching the legs to the bottom instead of the side. From your photos, I gather that several sets of your saw-horses are in use around your neck-of-the-woods.

Mikey D (author)Devil_Dog2008-09-08

Yup! We're just about to take a set upstairs. We are enclosing the 2nd floor balcony. Thanks Jarhead! Mikey

Phiber_Optik (author)2008-07-24

Very nice. I want that Honda Odyssey in the background.

Satweavers (author)2008-06-14

I do them kind of like that. Mine are stackable, but I put the cross brace further up so you can use it as a step and you can walk on the saw horse. My beam is like an I Beam made of 2 x 4s so it's really strong.

Mikey D (author)Satweavers2008-06-15

Great idea on the I beam configuration. I personally like the brace lower as is stronger for keeping the legs from splaying out, but the step idea is really worth it also! Thanks for the great comments! Mikey

joeliolyijr (author)2008-06-12

i was kind of hoping it was bullet proof not gonna lie

Mikey D (author)joeliolyijr2008-06-13

That's why the disclaimer in the first sentence. :) I guess I could have used kevlar reinforced ceramic, but that would have increased the cost just a bit ;)

nitrox027 (author)2008-06-13

I kind of recognise your young apprentice hmmm

Consumidor (author)2008-06-12

Loved them, super resistant, well done. Keep Doing Great job. Thanxs

Gyrine 77 (author)2008-06-10

Hey Mikey, Are you expecting a hurricane soon? These ought to do the job. If, however, there is no high wind you can always throw them at people. The should square them away! Keep up the good work. Gyrine 77

Mikey D (author)Gyrine 772008-06-11

Always be prepared! Yes they work very well. They're already scarred up and paint spattered. Thanks for the positive comment! Mikey

Pkranger88 (author)2008-06-03

Very nice horses but you can design the angles to where they all are the same size and thus will stack just like rubbermaid tubs. Also, not to nitpick, but on step 3 you call out a "chop saw." While not entirely wrong, the saw technically chops, but it is a compound (if not a double compound) mitere saw. A chop saw is used with an abrasive blade/disc for metal. Other than that, nicely done.

Mikey D (author)Pkranger882008-06-03

Your are correct. It is a compound miter saw. We use them both so frequently around here that I tend to use the term "chop saw" for both of them. I'll fix it. - - - Thanks! Mikey

depayton (author)2008-06-02

Your mistake in step six is the one top where the crown of the grain on one board is facing the wrong way. Once it get wet, the board will make a cup.

Mikey D (author)depayton2008-06-02

Well... actually... I bought an extra 12 footer and cut 16 tops instead of 12. But good eyes on the ring direction! Thanks for the kudos. Mikey

depayton (author)2008-06-02

These are the nicest saw horses I have ever seen. As soon as I come up with some scrap 2x6's I will make these.

The Dark Ninja (author)2008-06-01

As already stated, you have done a wonderful job writing this. I know nothing about table saws and I have learned a few things here. Thank you very very much for posting a high quality instructable! I wish they were all like this! Great job!!!!

Mikey D (author)The Dark Ninja2008-06-01

Thanks Dark Ninja. My pleasure to share the wealth.

Mr. Rig It (author)2008-06-01

Please feel free to add this Instructable to my group Home Repair, Refurbishment, and Projects I think it would be an asset to have it included.
Thanks and good work.

Mikey D (author)Mr. Rig It2008-06-01

Thank you Mr. Rig It! I added it to your group. I actualy never knew how the featured posts and groups worked arond here until you and Mr. Smith posted comements. The group looks like an informative one for me. I'll be sure to visit it often.

About This Instructable




Bio: I teach High School Welding and Video Game Development (currently) and have taught everything in the Industrial Technology area. I also currently teach Welding at ... More »
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