My wife came up with a grand idea for Christmas this year. We're making a majority of our Christmas gifts... so I've build several sets of collapsible saw horses for the men in our family (if you're a man in our family and reading this, please act surprised).
These fold up and are just the width of a 2x4, so they're fairly easy to store. In fact, I can fit 4 of these into the space that my so called stackables fit.
Step 1: Purchase List & Required Tools
Your purchase list will include:
5 stud grade 8 ft 2x4's (you can use better grade, but the stud grade was fine for me)
One 8 ft 1x4
Four 3/8in carriage bolts, 3 washers for each and a nut (you may prefer a locking nut).
Tools required for this project include:
Jig saw (a circular saw is also helpful)
Drill and 3/8 inch drill bit
Square and Pencil
Other helpful items (not required): After building several sets of these over the last few weeks, I found the following items extremely useful.
Clamps, I used 4, but a buddy to help build would also suffice
Saw horses, you could do this without them, but again, they are helpful
Rope, or other method of stabilizing the lower half, I found the best way to do this was to use a rope and a piece of scrap wood to make a rudimentary tightener for the bottom.
Feel free to come up with a different method. I'd love to hear of other ideas and suggestions (or criticisms) in the comment section!
Step 2: First Cuts
5 - 2x4's will make 2 sawhorses
In order to make this work, you'll want to cut 2 legs out of 4 of the 2x4's. Some of the scrap from these 4 legs will become braces. The 5th 2x4 will be split in two to make the two top pieces.
In the first picture above you should be able to see the pattern that I used to make my cuts. Each leg will be around 35 inches in length. Also, for the sawhorse to sit flush on the ground, I cut the bottom of the leg off at a 60 degree angle (according to the handy dandy speed square). After building my third set of these I started making all of the straight cuts with a circular saw, this sped my construction time by several minutes. I first cut both legs out at 35 inches, then from one end cut a 60 degree angle off to act as a foot.
Pay attention to the direction of the foot and the notch that you'll cut out. You'll want the foot to sit flat on the ground, and the notch to hold the wood. This is hard to explain without standing there with you, but put your noggin to use... If the leg stand next to your right foot and you can hold it in your left hand, then you want the notch on the right ( or an easier way to say this according to my wife is to notch the longer end... thanks!).
Determine which end will be the top of your sawhorse and cut a notch out with your jigsaw. My notch measures 1.25 inches down and 1 inch across. I then angle both cuts a bit (with my first set I put 2 legs together to make an "X" and then held up a scrap piece of 2x4 and marked my cut from there. The idea is to have the notches hold a 2x4 up in the top. I left most of the 2x4 out of the notch so that if I set my saw a little deep I wouldn't damage the underlying supports. If you don't have a buddy working with you, clamp down your wood and get to cutting. You can see that in the picture of the finished project.
It's best, in my opinion, to make all of your cuts, then come back and put it all together. Therefore, proceed to make 4 pair of legs from 4 - 2x4s, and cut the 5th 2x4 in half to be used as the top. If you don't have a buddy working with you, clamp down your wood and get to cutting.
After writing all of this down, it is possible to make just one set of legs, and get everything the way you want it, then use them as a pattern for the rest of your marks and cuts. In fact, to get uniform legs, this may be the best option.
Step 3: Put Em Together
Sorry for not taking pictures of this process, but it's pretty straight forward.
First, I stacked 2 legs on top of each other. Make sure that you've got your notches in opposite directions (like a wrench) and you fee are in opposite directions (so it'll stand). Measure down 6 inches and to the center of the top board and make a mark.
You'll want to drill out a 3\8 inch hole through both boards. Once your hole is drilled, put the carriage bolt with 1 washer through the top board, add a washer in the middle, then push the bolt through the bottom board, add the third washer, then the nut.
Congratulations, you've made your first set of legs.
Now do it to your other 3 legs.
Step 4: Put Together Saw Horses
In this step you'll use some of your scrap wood to put together 2 sets of legs. My legs measure to be about 18 inches apart, but you can make this as long as you want, but if you want to use the scrap, and not make another cut over this, just go about a foot below your bolt and screw the 2x4 scrap to the inside leg.
Before screwing the other side on, check to make sure both will open the same way. I've made this mistake at least once per set that I've built and had to take them apart, swap legs, and put back together. It's a bit of a puzzle, but if you have pieces that match on the inside, you should be alright.
Once you have both sets of legs screwed together, You'll want to measure the outside-to-outside length at the same area as your other brace. This is why we have an 8ft 1x4. Cut this length out of the 1x4, and screw it to the outside of the 2 other legs.
If someone comments and wants pictures of this I can go out and take some (I've got 1 set left to build before Christmas). Also, you should be able to discern the process from the previous pictures.
Once you have the 2x4 in the middle, and the 1x4 across the outside, the legs should open and close. If your's don't, then you may need to loosen the bolt/nut that is holding them tight. I kept mine fairly tight so they wouldn't be all loosy goosy while trying to carry them.
Step 5: Put in Top Bar and Devise a Way to Cinch the Bottom
With all 4 legs put together into 2 sawhorses, put the top bar in both and pull the legs so they hold the top bar in tight.
The method I designed to hold the bottom steady was to tie a rope loosely around both bottom braces, put in a piece of scrap wood and twist. This puts tension on the top bar. Mine got tight enough that I could carry the sawhorses by the top piece without it coming out.
If you can come up with a cleaner or better way to do this, let me know in the comments.
Step 6: Set Up Your Saw Horses to Cut Off the Bottom of the Tree.
This final step could probably be left out, but I put my sawhorses through their first test: Hold up the Christmas tree we shot down (yes shot down, its a family tradition) and hold it steady while i made my cut without having to crawl under the cedar tree.